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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

Mojak Lehoko: On writing for Black Tax and tackling grief in new stand-up show

The comedian speaks to The Citizen about how his new stand-up show is inspired by grief and his role as writer on Black Tax.

“Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy,” once said funny actor John Cleese

Collective grief

You get a sense of collective laughter when comedian Mojak speaks about his latest show, In My Own Head, which he recently presented at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown).

“There’s a feeling of collective grief since the pandemic. I speak a lot about mental health, anxiety and grief on the show and I think a lot of people could relate to that,” Mojak tells The Citizen.

His full name is Mojakisane Lehoko but is know as Mojak. He says his show challenges how people have dealt with grief. “We grow up being told ‘you should be strong’ or that ‘men don’t cry’ isn’t normal.”

This was the first time he played the show in front of an audience. “There are elements of older shows, but most of it is new. I didn’t try it [the material] here in [Joburg] which was quite risky, but it went well.”

In My Own Head isn’t entirely inspired by the 2020 passing of his father, but he says that was a huge factor.

“Yea it is one of the things that motivated it, but the last three years have been hectic for a lot of people. We’re all grieving… some people are grieving the loss of relationships, jobs or plans that didn’t work out. There are versions of us we’ve all lost.”

The comedian lost his father just before the pandemic in February. “The show is an opportunity to address what I was dealing with.”

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Black Tax

Mojak is one of the writers on BET comedy show show Black Tax which returned to screens this past weekend for a third season.

“I’ve been on board for a while now. But I come in a bit later in the process after the scrips is done,” says Mojak.

He has been with Black Tax since the inception of the show but he does what is called punch-ups. This is the process in which a group of comedy writers gets together to sharpen jokes that aren’t quite landing in a script. “The lot of the story is already there, we don’t try to change much.”

The TV show is created by the multi-award-winning team of Meren Reddy, Joshua Rous, and Luke Rous.

Black Tax isn’t Mojak’s first attempt at television writing. He has written for Ekasi Stories’ Wannabe, The Real Jozi A listers, Abomzala and Ses’ Top La.

“I started on the LNN (Late Nite News With Loyiso Gola) show in 2010 and then Kagiso Lediga gave me an opportunity on Bantu Hour,” explains Mojak.

He says there’s a disparity in writing for a satirical show and a contributing to a series like Black Tax. “You need to have an understanding of politics in a satirical show.”

“On Bantu Hour we had to create a scenario and then the jokes-it’s building a world in a lot less of time. While those things are already there on a show like Black Tax.”

With a big background in satirical television writing, Mojak got the opportunity to add to it in 2018 when he was at the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

“I spent about four weeks there shadowing David Kibuuka where I shared his office. It was similar to the LNN but it was more intense because the shows were everyday unlike once a week on LNN.”

His stand-up comedy show In My Own Head will around Joburg in the coming months.

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