Thought-provoking funny-man Tats Nkonzo had comedy- lovers in stitches at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this week with his A South African Comedy Story: Tats Nkonzo is Privileged show.
Mdantsane-born Nkonzo, whose real name is Mthawelanga, kept the audience entertained as he tackled some of the dynamics of life in South Africa.
He said: “What we have tonight is a typical South African crowd. We’re all together but everyone is pocketed in small groups. Mixing is hard because the truth is, it gets awkward. Race consciousness is easy.”
He shared his experiences with “racial consciousness” and the awkwardness of trying to integrate with other races and those less privileged than himself.
His epiphany, he said, came when he realised that regardless of race, he
too was privileged and therefore not as innocent as he thought he was. “I was having lunch in an upmarket restaurant in Cape Town one day when a homeless man came up to me to asked me for food.
“I had food in front of me, he could see it, I could see it, but I still said I have no food to offer him. That’s when I realised that Tats Nkonzo is privileged.
“It’s difficult to get out of what you’re used to and mix with other groups. No one will tell you this but privilege affords you a great life.”
After that experience, Nkonzo said he made the decision to tackle privilege by interacting with those less privileged than himself in his effort to be “a better human being”.
A day he will never forget in his new life, he said, was when his four-year-old son kissed a homeless man at the robots one afternoon.
“So many thoughts went through my mind in that moment, as I prayed that robot Jesus would save me from that experience. I also learned that day that there is no such thing as robot Jesus,” he said.
He told the Dispatch he was happy that his audience had “opened themselves up” to the title of his show.
“My material is not easy to listen to if you are closed-minded because of the issues it tackles.”
Closing off the night he said: “Integration is difficult and we don’t know how to beat these issues because we don’t talk about them.”
He said South Africans needed to mix and be able to relate in order to understand each other’s stories.
Audience member Robyn Derwin from Johannesburg said: “People don’t want to talk about these issues because they’re controversial, so I enjoyed hearing someone tell it like it is”.
The show is on until July 8.