The ongoing national lockdown has been a hell of a time for us all and this statement also rings true for people like Mojak Lehoko and Nina Hastie, whose job it is to elicit a laugh, even in the grimmest of situations.
While many comedians have had to mourn the loss of opportunities to get booked for live shows, Hastie and Lehoko (along with Donovan Goliath and Lihle Msimang) have been lucky to work on Castle Lite‘s The Lite Show which was renewed for a second season.
What content creation means for comedians
“I think shows like The Lite Show create an incredible opportunity for comedians to have a creative outlet, Particularly right now when we can’t perform in live spaces,” said Lehoko in a recent interview with The Citizen, before adding that the reception to their show has been great.
“Look, I think people love fresh and interesting ways to consume content, and people like watching funny people give them current information letting them be the ones that put you on instead of your parents or the newsreaders, or worse… Reading a book!” exclaimed Nina Hastie.
What is ‘The Lite Show’
The Lite Show is a regular online show focused on wrapping up the weekly headlines in a witty way, giving South Africans the opportunity to stay abreast of the latest news while enjoying a good laugh.
Season one spanned 12 episodes and featured a number of segments hosted by Goliath, partner Davina, rapper Rouge and comedians Lihle Msimang and Mojak Lehoko.
The first season aired in spring last year, well into the lockdown and offered the cast a welcome reprieve from the lack of bookings they were faced with as entertainers who relied on social gatherings for work.
“I think it allows us to do comedy to an audience that we maybe would not have tapped into prior to this,” said Lehoko before adding, “It’s interesting the places you can take things when shooting a bi-weekly show.”
Hastie, who was brought on board in season two, added that opportunities like The Lite Show were “so important”.
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“I mean it’s all good and well to try do shows to your phone camera but even the small engagement you get in a studio from real humans, to know if a joke is funny or not from a camera person or another comedian, is important for your craft tool to stay sharp,” she explained.
“And for many of us, this craft defines our identities, and without we feel dead inside without being able to express ourselves. So yes, it’s paramount, and we are so grateful that brands have come to the party to give us opportunities like this.”
Live comedy shows under lockdown
Concerts and parties are not the only types of events that have suffered under lockdown. Comedians missed out on countless opportunities to not only hit the stage but to earn a decent living from getting to stage live shows, in addition to the other work they normally do.
Lehoko said he last did a live show in Cape Town in May.
“I kind of only get on stage once a month which is completely different to the ‘old world’ when I would get on stage 3 – 4 times a month.”
On the other hand, Hastie said she had tried taking her one-woman show on the road “during the dips of the pandemic, when there was more freedom”. However, her show didn’t gain much traction.
“…but I can tell you one thing, people need to and want to laugh,” said Hastie.
The future of The Lite Show
After a recent hiatus due to the latest peak in infections, The Lite Show has returned to filming regularly and have adopted all the necessary Covid-19 protocols to ensure the safety of the cast and crew while bringing viewers the news in a way they have come to love.
Hastie even recalls having to film her segment from home because she had to quarantine after coming into contact with someone who later found out that they had Covid.
The fact that we are living in sensitive and unprecedented times is not lost on the comedians, who said they were very measured in their approach to topics so as not to cross the line.
“Look, as comedians, we’re good at something called ‘reading the room’. You’ll know when the time is right, and what Is appropriate and what isn’t. Comedy is tragedy plus time. Sometimes some subjects need more time than others. Some – no time can heal it, and you stay away from those subjects,” said Hastie.