19 Jan Instagram Heroes: 7 IG Stars Serving Comedy Gold
They say that laughter is the best medicine. When the going gets tough, comedy can be a balm that fortifies and generates hope, which is not to diminish its entertainment value: a temporary distraction is often what it takes to remind us there’s a light side to living, too. The archetype of the fool is a long-enduring one. During the medieval and Renaissance eras the role of the court jester or fool was partly to entertain, but often too they were the only ones in the position to deflate the ego of the ruler – saying, in jest, what needed to be said, but which nobody else would risk saying aloud. The heroism of comedians, fools and clowns lies in this bravery, made safer or more palatable under the guise of “making light”. And so today we’re exploring the many faces of the fool, with seven Instagram Heroes of many talents: chief among those being the ability to make us laugh.
Whether you’re initially fooled or instantly cotton on to the fact that Nochill God’s video conversations with celebrities are the work of clever editing, there’s an uncanny feeling all the same as the Venda-born, Joburg-based comedian chats casually with Rihanna, Cardi B and Doja Cat to name a few. Just as knowing that pro wrestling is scripted doesn’t detract from it’s entertainment value, Muhanelwa’s witty spliced dialogue is genuinely funny and addictive and, in those moments where confusion is temporarily suspended and the illusion takes hold, celebs are brought down from their starry, inaccessible heights to the level of relatability. After all, they’re only human too. Follow @nochill_god on Instagram.
While studying film and TV production at the University of Cape Town, Durban-born Wendy Gumede began making YouTube skits to sharpen her skills. She kept at it and The Black Wendy Channel was born, host to satirical comedy clips such as “Our Zulu Mom Reacts to Her Daughter’s Wishlist” – the latest video in a series starring a favourite character in Gumede’s canon. As her YouTube bio states, she sets out to offer a “refreshing distraction from what is happening in the world” while also thoughtfully addressing the social issues of our time. By 2019 her work saw her interviewing with Bomb Productions, joining the writing team for and later landing an acting role in popular television drama Isibaya. Follow @theblackwendy on Instagram.
Glen Biderman-Pam is a stand-up comedian, actor and director. He graduated from UCT with an honours degree in Theatre and Performance and, with his professional debut in 2013, won the Comedy Central Open Mic Competition – setting the stage for his career to come. Recently you may have spotted him in local series Tali’s Wedding Diary (2017-2018) and Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2 (2020). Biderman-Pam’s IG account hosts self-produced skits or comedic collaborations with his peers in the industry. Highlights include a brutally funny jab at Cape Town cyclists and a new influencer persona by the name of Xander, who might shoutout your new fashion label if you ask nicely. Follow @glenbidermanpam on Instagram.
The brain-child of artist, illustrator, designer and actress Julia Anastasopoulos, do-it-yourself web series Suzelle DIY has captured the hearts of South Africans who either have a tannie just like its beloved star Suzelle, or wish they did. The queen of “stunning creativity” shares tutorials for everything from vetkoek to flower crowns, aided by her trusty sidekick Marianne. Anastasopoulos’ tremendous sense of humour doesn’t stop there, more recently adopting the guise of Joburg girly-girl Tali in Showmax TV comedy Tali’s Wedding Diary, which she co-wrote and starred in. But fear not, Suzelle’s own YouTube channel blazes on while Anastasopoulos continues to explore the other realms where comedy and creativity intersect for her. Follow @SuzelleDIY on Instagram.
With an impressive wig collection and a knack for local dialects, Lasizwe Dambuza has climbed the comedy ranks impersonating South Africans, and poking fun at our industries and institutions, to hilarious effect. A prolific presence on Instagram and YouTube, his videos reveal the humour in the everyday – from disgruntled school teachers to having your card declined at the till. In 2018 he was voted the Most Influential Young South African, going on to become the first in Africa to land a reality show with MTV, with Fake It Till You Make It now in its third season. Follow @lasizwe on Instagram.
If anyone can put a light-hearted spin on the surreal horror that comes with living during a global pandemic, it’s Schalk Bezuidenhout. And while certain branches of Covid-19 comedy cannot be condoned, Bezuidenhout’s videos are funny, sure, but they’re surprisingly reassuring too. This probably comes down to an attribute of which his IG bio assures us, that he is indeed a “lekker mens”. Having grown up in Kempton Park, he went on to study theatre and performing at the University of Cape Town and, in the relatively short time he’s been doing comedy, has become a household name. And yes, his quirky jersey collection helps him out a little too. Follow @schalkiebez on Instagram.
Elsa Majimbo is a 19-year-old comedian from Nairobi, Kenya who shot to internet stardom during the Covid-19 lockdown when her monologue videos went viral on Instagram. Known for crunching loudly on potato chips and wearing tiny ‘90s sunglasses, her satirical clips about life, money and fame provoke the sort of laughter that leads to belly aches. She’s bagged ambassadorial roles for MAC Cosmetics and Rihanna’s Fenty, and won the E! People’s Choice Award for Favourite African Social Star in 2020… all the while completing her studies in journalism at Strathmore University. Follow @majimb.o on Instagram.
Are you an Instagram Hero?
If you’re a creator or business owner in Sub-Saharan Africa using IG to grow your practice or build your brand, you qualify to enter our monthly Instagram Heroes awards series. The Creator category includes art, design and craft, as well as creatives and makers across all fields. The Business category is for local entrepreneurs, agencies, start-ups and well-established enterprises. Submit your work using the form below before Friday, 22 January 2021.