Johannesburg - Khanyisa Bunu is a comedic sensation you absolutely have to experience. I first saw her at the last Blacks Only Comedy Show at Emperors Palace, and she killed. She’s a humble performer with natural timing, and whether she’s doing it in the vernacular or in English, she serves it up just right every time.
She left teaching to be a full-time comedian, and a successful one at that. She jokes that she failed at teaching – the profession simply wasn’t for her.
“You know you always get that one kid who is smarter than you, so you answer every other kid’s questions, but avoid the nerd in the front.”
She left her hometown looking to do something more, feeling that the Eastern Cape had given her the best it could offer.
“I’m from Whittlesea in the Eastern Cape, but feel free to call me the child of the universe,” she tells me via email.
When I ask, I’m promptly reminded that a lady never reveals her age.
“Let’s just say I’ve been around long enough to have four decades under my belt.”
It’s been eight years of hard slog for Bunu in the comedy industry, and she won an Audience Choice award at the 2015 Savanna Comics’ Choice Awards, something she’s very proud of.
“I was very excited as I was the first female winner in the Comics’ Choice Awards,” she says.
Her journey hasn’t been an easy one.
“This industry is the most challenging thing I’ve been involved in. I know I’m funny, hey, of course I am. But I still have to fight for acceptance from my peers. Apparently, if you don’t swear and don’t talk about sex, you’re not funny. But fortunately, the audience doesn’t think that way.”
Her comedic inspirations and people she admires are based on “anyone who can do clean, smart humour and still be hilarious. Three people come to mind – Skhumba, Eugene Khoza and, of course, Trevor Noah. People are funny out there. Some are overrated. Some are underrated, such as Loyiso Madinga and Mojak Lehoko. Those guys are funny.”
A few weeks ago, I watched her set up a joke about singer Mshoza and skin bleaching, but the Sandton crowd didn’t seem to know who she was talking about. So, how exactly does she deal with a bad joke and avoid what comedians refer to as dying.
“That happens a lot, hey ... I just look at them and say ‘whooo shame’ in Somizi’s voice. Ok, I’m joking. I just flip on to another joke ... you know, like, moving on, folks.”
I fully intend to see her again, and ask her where you and I can catch her doing her thing.
“I’m opening for Trevor Noah on August 9, 10 and 11 at the Ticketpro Dome, and on August 13 at the Durban ICC. I’ve got a few other gigs, but I think that one is the mother of them all.”
Look out for this sister as she is about to blow up. By the sound of things, we might even see her do a bit of acting – I can’t