The ‘gentleman of comedy’ tells us about Boys Don’t Cry in July… his new show on stage at the Theatre on the Square and about his mastery of a personal voice.
Ndumiso Lindi – or Roosta, as his friends call him – is not a South African household name … yet! That’s soon to change, as this comedian, corporate MC, voice-over artist and presenter is set to blaze across a stage near you in his upcoming stand-up comedy show, Boys Don’t Cry in July, which hits the Auto and General Theatre on the Square in Sandton. Starting on Tuesday, July 23, Lindi is hosting a five-day run for us to enjoy his fresh comedy, baritone voice and flawless delivery.
The oddly named show is largely because Lindi has an aversion to the typical. ‘I try to run away from SOMETHING SOMETHING COMEDY SHOW! when it comes to naming things. I’m running away from those obvious titles and trying out these movie-style titles.’
While the title of the show may be movie-style, the show has a personal touch. ‘It’s a dedication to my father, who died last year in July,’ Lindi says.
‘I decided to do a show I’d dedicate to him, his life and just talk about everything. Dads always say to their sons ‘boys don’t cry, be strong’. When last July came, I fell apart. Because stand-up comedy for us is like therapy, we take our pain and put it on stage and find the funny bits in it. One comic once said a comic goes on stage and talks about funny things, but a comedian goes on stage and makes things funny.’ We know Lindi will.
The aptly named ‘gentleman of the South African comedy circuit’ can read a room like no other. His intuition and street-smart nature help to keep his finger on the pulse of the nation, guaranteeing an appeal to every audience member. His comedy is self-described as ‘observational. I always talk about what I’ve experienced. I talk about my family, I talk about what humans do. I always talk about the music. I’m a storyteller.’
If you’re planning to catch his show, you can expect about an hour of laughs. This comes with a ‘but’, as Lindi says, ‘If you’re really having fun on stage, time doesn’t really matter. You can open your mouth to say hello and the next thing you know 10 minutes are gone.’ His comedic inspiration is classic: ‘I’ll always look up to the greats like Richard Pryor. I started comedy, then bumped into his DVD – it changed everything I knew – how I delivered a joke on stage, the way I build up a joke. Another one is Dave Chapelle. His subject matter, his delivery on stage, just the way he is. Around the world he’s considered the king of comedy. Eddie Murphy, of course.’
With so many comedians out there, what sets Lindi apart from the others is his mastery of a personal voice. ‘I guess I’ve always tried to stay away from what other comedians are doing, especially in a line-up show,’ he says. ‘If comedians are talking about current issues and I’m the headliner, then I stay away from those issues unless I come up with a different angle, which is something I always challenge myself to do.’ His personal touch doesn’t just extend to his performances. ‘I studied graphic design, so all my posters are my own work. Creative director!’
With so much on the go, it’s natural to question what comes next. For Lindi, this year is about collaborations and doing the shows he’s been wanting to do for a while. ‘We kicked off this year with a show we started last year, Married, But Not to Each Other, with Tumi Morake’ – a queen of South African comedy, according to Lindi (we agree!).
‘Next up,’ he says, Keeping Up With the Xhosas.’ He also has his sights set abroad. ‘Comedy is my ticket to the world. I love travelling and it’s taken me to a lot of places around the continent – Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, among them, and overseas the UK, United States, Switzerland. The more you start performing around the world, the more you like it. You feel you’re making the world laugh.’
That said, South Africa is his love. ‘Local will always be lekker. It gives you an advantage to perform in your own language and you know the right references to throw in.’ South Africa has a gorgeous comedy scene but so many of us are out of touch with it because our idea of family time or a date night usually involves a restaurant, perhaps with a movie afterwards. Lindi wants to challenge that. ‘Laughing is good for the body. People should go out and support stand-up and get positive vibes. Also you don’t have to tip anybody.’ Good point!
When asked for any pearls of wisdom for budding stand-up comedians, Lindi says, ‘Don’t do it for the fame or for the money. Do it for the love. Be patient. Keep writing and try to stay original. Don’t be the next me or Trevor Noah or whoever. Find your own voice.’
To get a feel for Ndumiso Lindi’s voice (and probably lose your own voice from laughing so hard), check out his show starting July 23 at the Theatre on the Square, or take a look at his website.