Comedy review: Loyiso Gola: Unlearning

Loyiso Gola - Unlearning what he thinks he knows in a hilarious hour-long show. Picture: Contributed
Loyiso Gola - Unlearning what he thinks he knows in a hilarious hour-long show. Picture: Contributed
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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: When you have grown up in the townships of South ­Africa, it’s hard not to laugh at the things white people get upset about.

Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)

****

Loyiso Gola has a lot of fun looking at white ­people’s ­problems from this perspective – gently reminding his audience that first world ­problems are pretty minor.

Gola is tall and rangy, with a habit of rolling his eyes and looking to the ceiling as he softly chides us for our ­privileged ways. But this is not “us and them” comedy. The theme of this show is unlearning what you think you know – and Gola has also decided to throw away the things he thinks he knows about white people – about education, class and what it means to be a man.

He still finds it astonishing to see poor white people – and he cannot quite believe his eyes when he sees a ­Caucasian ­person wielding a mop or broom.

In South Africa Gola is a ­really big deal, a well-known television name – but he drops this in subtly, halfway through the show, in the course of a very silly anecdote about a road trip gone wrong. We ­British people don’t like to hear ­people bigging themselv es up at the beginning of a show, he explains.

Gola may be able to play to huge rooms in South Africa, but it is a delight to see him working in a tiny room. He reads the audience ­brilliantly, feeling his way, noticing the references we get and those we don’t.

His delivery combines the warm and playful intonation of Africa with the pace and rhythm of the great ­American stand-ups. Behind his playful bewildered style is a brilliant comic brain – inviting us to question what we think we know about colour, privilege and our own history.

Until 28 August. Today 9pm.