Zimbabwean comedian takes on xenophobia on stage

Durban – It’s a painful subject, so comedian Troy Tesla pokes fun at it. The Zimbabwean comedian performed in Durban last week and dealt with xenophobia in his routine.

The mixed audience at Amsterdam Bar, Glenwood, responded with hearty laughter.

He told the Independent On Saturday that if people could look closely at the attacks on foreign nationals, they would see that it was more than just xenophobia, there was racism in it, too.

He said it was not a coincidence that he made jokes about xenophobia at the same time foreign nationals were being attacked in Durban.

“Being black, half South African and half Zimbabwean is complicated. When I meet white people I experience racism.

“When I meet black people it’s xenophobia. Which is why I prefer to be coloured, because I might be stabbed, but at least no one will burn me,” he said.

Comedians tackle big topics that are important to people.

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“I have to touch on issues that people can relate to. Xenophobia was something I was afraid to talk about. One day I just decided to put it out there. I want people to laugh about their problems. It reduces the unpleasantness,” he said.

The young comedian was born in Zimbabwe, and he and his three brothers were raised by their father, who was a farmer, and their mother. In 2006, his family relocated to Durban.

Tesla said the only thing he remembered about this big change was that it was the hardest thing the family had to do.

Tesla told us that as a foreign national he understood that South Africa had many immigrants but the country’s main problem stemmed from illegal immigrants.

“Maybe the South African government should do something to sort out illegal immigration and speak openly about it to the people of South Africa.

“My father used to tell me stories about South Africans who escaped from the violence that was happening in South Africa.

“He used to tell me how hard it was for South Africans to leave their homes behind. He said it was not a honeymoon, but there was a problem to be solved,” he said.

Tesla’s jokes touch on a lot of political issues, but he said he saw things differently as a comedian.

He said a bit of humour in any problem could make a person think about things differently without being emotional.

The comedian lives in Auckland Park, Gauteng, but he will be back to make Durbanites “laugh their hearts out” at an annual event he initiated in 2017, Jokes & Jazz, at UKZN Howard College on May 7.

Independent On Saturday