Don’t expect to see Trevor Noah at screenings of his new ‘The Daywalker’ live comedy film, currently on circuit. During our conversation, one of South Africa’s funniest men reveals why he doesn’t like watching his own performances, how he beats Loyiso Gola at the game ‘Fifa 10’, why hanging with the paparazzi is never fun, the joys of being heckled by a six-year-old, and getting obsessed with twitter.
What’s it like seeing yourself on the big screen?
I never watch any of my stuff. I can’t. I become too self conscious and then I’ll never do anything. When I’m performing I’ve literally got to perform to the best of my ability and not be afraid so if I see what I do I might think I look like such an idiot that I’ll never do it again,
This was your first one-man show and it was filmed. Are you a sucker for extra pressure?
I think I work well under pressure. I do like extra pressure because it motivates me, it makes me want to do it right and do it well.
It was extra pressure but you have to rise to the challenge and thankfully I have a good support team around me – I have friends, I have family, I have good support.
You originally got into comedy because some of those friends forced you onto stage at a club. In hindsight, do you think you would have got up onto stage of your own accord?
I don’t think I would have, to be honest. I really don’t. For years I’d pondered, I’d always thought about doing comedy but I never had the backing and it’s such a difficult thing to do without someone having faith in you. I think that goes for a lot of things you do in the public – so it’s really a situation where I owe a lot to my friends. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have gone on stage.
You’d made a name for yourself as a radio and TV presenter before launching your comedy career, but have you ever had to take on any strange jobs to pay the rent?
I once worked at an arcade but that wasn’t really a job – I just sat around and played games. I was the manager but my job was also to introduce people to new games. People aren’t very quick to spend money on something they don’t know how to play, so once they’ve seen somebody else playing it they’re more likely to spend their money.
Are you still into playing games?
Very much so. I love escapism.
What is it about comedians and games? Loyiso Gola is just obsessed with ‘Fifa’.
I’m not as keen on ‘Fifa’ as Loyiso is but he needs to practice because I whip his ass all the time. It’s one of those things. I understand why he’s so keen – he needs as much practice as he can get. [laughs]
Do you hang out with other comedians a lot? You’re also in a comedy collective with David Kibuuka.
Yes, we’re trying to get comedy to more places and hoping to get more people into it. South Africans generally don’t like to travel far for entertainment because we don’t have a public transport system to speak of. People want to go to something close by, so we want to take comedy to the people, where they are.
It’s very difficult but we’re coming along.
You’re also bringing your comedy to twitter – even though you seem quite shy in person, you’re writing funny comments about pretty much everything that’s happening to you.
I am quite a private guy so what I like about twitter is you still retain your privacy. You can make statements without really delving into them – you know with Facebook it becomes a conversation.
So do you feel pressure to be funny in your tweets?
I like it as a challenge to myself. I love it, I have so much fun with it. It’s more of a game – I don’t force myself to do it, there’s no pressure. If something funny comes up I write it, if not, I don’t.
You recently tweeted that you were heckled by a six-year-old…
That was horrible. I was doing some corporate gig and they had kids in the audience, just running around, screaming, shouting. You know, it’s hard enough making people laugh but when you’ve got stuff like that going on, it just makes your job 100 times harder. I never understand – if you want to pay me to make you laugh, why don’t you give yourself a fair chance to laugh?
Are you heckled often?
No, not really. So I don’t really need any of those quick comebacks either. I’m not the kind of person who gets stuck into the audience, I’m a very chilled out guy.
Being so chilled out it’s quite odd to see you on that ‘Tropika Island of Treasure’ reality show, having your every move filmed.
That trip was actually quite unnerving, I’m not going to lie. I rarely keep to myself and then on that trip the cameras were with us all the time, causing me to stay away from what was happening a lot more than I would have normally.
You’re literally travelling with the paparazzi which is something very strange – it wouldn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Normally they’re trying to sneak pictures without permission, here they were actually invited to come along. So it was a very strange setup that did detract a little from the overall experience.
But being asked to be on that show means you’ve hit some sort of celebrity status. Do you get recognised a lot?
A lot of people recognise me and sort of greet me. About three out of 10 say: “Tell us a joke.” I never do – punchlines just aren’t my style of comedy.
- This article originally appeared on EntertainmentAfrica.com.