The Napsta – King of Christian Comedy (real name Napoleon Masinga) – is a South African based comedian with over 10 years experience in drama and the performing arts. He’s dazzled all types of audiences as a comedian, featuring at the ‘Soweto Comedy Festival’ and ‘Gospel Laughs & Worship’ in Kenya, as well as the ‘International Pastors & Partners Conference’ hosted in Nigeria, where he performed to a live audience of over 27,000 delegates. We chat to him about the upcoming ‘67 Minutes Of Laughter’ brought to you by Tshwane Comedy Nights as part of Mandela Day celebrations.
How did your nickname, Napsta, come about?
My real name is Napoleon. Every teacher and adult loved that name, but the kids didn’t, so they saw a need to shorten it. Ever since I was in school my name has been evolving… From “Nappy” to “Naps” to “Napstadamas” to “Napstadinho” and eventually to “The Napsta.” I was given the nickname “Napsta” by a guy in high school (The National School of Arts) called Andile, and it stuck with me since.
How did your comedy journey begin?
I was always a funny guy, but I never saw myself being a professional comedian until about five years ago. A Pastor friend of mine called Tshepo Mekgoe sent me a YouTube link of a U.S. based entertainer called Broderick E Rice doing impersonations of famous Pastors on TBN. It was brilliant. Tshepo said I could do it. I then spent the whole night putting together my first comedy demo, recorded off my laptop. I actually added sound effects of people laughing. I made copies and started handing them out the next day, asking people to have a listen. Needless to say it was terrible, but I didn’t let that stop or discourage me. My desire grew. I started watching comedy and writing. One day I was in a planning committee for a church conference, so I suggested we have a comedian as part of the entertainment. They all loved the idea then paused and said, “So who is the comedian?” I said “me,” and they all burst out laughing. Finally they agreed to give me a chance, and I wrote my first ever 15-minute long comedy set. I got to perform it in Lagos, Nigeria, in front of a live audience of 27,000 people. That was my first show and I never looked back.
Do you regret quitting your comfortable job as a copywriter?
Never. I usually take long to make important decisions, but once my mind is made up, I stick to it. Commitment and consistency mean everything to me. I heard God very clearly telling me to leave my job and go into comedy. I trust him every day to provide and help me in this journey. That doesn’t mean I didn’t plan financially and make a lot of sacrifices or meet challenges… That’s all part of the package. I do still consult as a copywriter every now and then, and copywriting has helped me become a better comedian.
You have always kept your jokes clean, which is what separates you from other comedians. Was this a conscious decision?
Yes it was. Coming from a Christian home, we were raised in a certain way by my mom and dad; we were not allowed to swear or listen to secular, vulgar music. That stuck with me throughout my life. I’ve always believed that one doesn’t need to be vulgar to be funny. Comedy, for me, is not just making people laugh, I believe it is one of the most effective forms of conveying a message. That’s why I use my jokes to motivate people, promote good values based on bible principles and tackle those difficult issues that no one wants to discuss.
How did you start the 67 Minutes of Laughter project?
Just like any South African, I have always loved Nelson Mandela and had a dream of meeting him. I never had that opportunity, however I was challenged to continue his legacy in my own way. When I studied his life I saw that what mattered the most to Tata was not building his own empire, but building people instead. He genuinely cared about children, so I thought, ‘Imagine if I could get all the comedians in SA in one show, and we could all contribute to making a difference in a child’s life, just like Madiba taught us?’ I honestly never thought this show would be what it is today. I was blown away and overwhelmed by the response of the comedians and sponsors; it was almost like everyone was waiting for an event of this nature. We all give back in some way or the other, but nothing is stopping us from adding a little fun to it.
There are a lot of organisations involved in making a difference in SA, but you chose NMCH – thank you! Please share why you wanted to be involved with the hospital.
As much as there are many charities who are doing great work, I thought 67 Minutes of Laughter should be about Madiba. I thought I should honour him and his mandate by aligning the show to the vision he had of building a hospital for children. I believe that it is what Tata would have wanted or done if he was still alive. I chose NMCH because it is my way of honoring and continuing the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
What can we expect from this year’s show?
A bigger and better show with Mzansi’s finest comedians! Our last show was done at a theatre that could only hold 280 people, and it was sold out. Even after putting in extra chairs we had people standing and some even sitting on the floor. This year we are fortunate enough to have the show at The Lyric Theatre, which holds just over 1000 people. Prepare to laugh like you’ve never laughed before.
Which other comedians will be joining you?
John Vlismas, Mark Banks, Mpho Popps, Jason Goliath, Donovan Goliath, Robby Collins, Deep Fried Man, Richelieu, Nina Hastie, Lazola Gola, Loyiso Madinga, Lihle Lindzy, Alfred Adriaan, Ebenhaezer Dibakwane.
What special message would you like to share as someone that believes in our project?
We live in a predominantly selfish society, but I believe it really doesn’t take a lot to make a difference. Some people are waiting to have a certain amount of money before they can make what they believe is a significant difference, but the truth is that making a difference is not about ‘how much’ you give, but about ‘how’ you give. What is it that you have in your hand? What skills, talents, business contacts or unused clothes or furniture do you have? Someone out there needs it. Use what you have and start making a difference. If we all do our little part, together we can make a big difference.
- Date: Saturday 18 July (Mandela Day)
- R67 per ticket
- Venue: Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City
- Time: 20:00
Tickets can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/1FXU6AE