Tats Nkonzo: The African with Wifi

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 10 Aug 2015

If comedy can claim to have a social purpose surely it's that of forcing you to see the world differently by comically highlighting the absurdities of what you think you already know. Tats Nkonzo repeatedly draws on this technique to wrongfoot a (British) audience assured in its views of Africa as a whole and South Africa in particular. It's not all ebola and Oscar Pistorius, you know.

A consummate performer, Nkonzo adroitly unpicks the comfortable Western view of the world, and his skill lies in knowing how to challenge an audience without hectoring them into wanting to leave. In particular, he explores how the West clumps together many nations and cultures into something referred to as 'Africa', which it can then demonise. A glorious extended skit involves the personification of the worst global diseases, competing to be tagged 'the best'. There's audience participation here and his skill is evident in that the punter required to play the role of Aids doesn't seem to mind at all.

Nkonzo sings too. Mocking conventional song forms and the kinds of language permitted in hip hop, he strums on his guitar and showcases a sweet voice which also charms. He critiques the use of the N-word, and while Nkonzo mentions in passing comparably offensive language found in South Africa, it's a shame he doesn't explore those particular cultural specifics more. That said, this is a truly glorious hour that challenges perceptions in a powerfully inclusive manner, performed by somone who, by rights, will be a star.