At this year’s Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards, taking place for the eighth time, Mpho “Popps” Modikoane has been nominated for the Comic of the Year award. He spoke to The Star about the challenges facing comedians winging it on set and why comedy was his destiny.
The Star (TS): What are some of the biggest challenges that comedians face in the industry?
Mpho Modikoane (MM): Getting space time is very difficult as well as transitioning between different audiences. People constantly thinking and assuming comedians can make them laugh on the spot makes it very difficult and frustrating. Although it may be fun for us to have constant change, the lack of stability can be difficult for family members and romantic relationships because comics need to always be ready to go across the world for a show.
TS: The theme for this year is Rhythm of Funny. How important is sticking to the script, that is, the set you have prepared, or do you just wing it?
MM: Comedy is half and half. Anything can happen and we need to be prepared for that. We prepare 50% of our set and the rest is improvising. Because audiences believe it’s made up on the spot, the mixture makes it interesting. Prepared sets are funny but improvising is way funnier.
MM: When I realised the most important thing isn’t money but it’s being happy. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a comedian because I was studying something at the age of 19 that was going to make me money but I was not happy. Then I thought about what I wanted and I realised making people laugh makes me happy.
TS: What do you expect this year’s Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards to be like?
MM: I expect a bit of everything: funny, controversial and surprises. There’s a lot of drama brewing on the comedic streets and as much as the sponsor wants it to be, it won’t be dry (see what I did there).
TS: What would winning at this year’s Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards mean to you?
MM: It would mean everything to me to win but it would mean even more for my mother. I do stuff that will make my mom proud so if I won, I would call my mom and say: “Yo ma, we did it.”
TS: What advice would you give to newcomers to the comedy industry?
MM: I’d tell the newcomers that if you’re going do it for fame, then you might as well stop now. We make it look glamorous but it is not, it’s hard work. You need to love comedy and love hard work. I’d also say, be yourself, develop your own voice because if you come in trying to be someone else, the audience and the other comedians won’t like it.
The awards show will take place at Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre on Saturday, September 8.