Africa’s biggest comedy festival will kick off later this month, with more than 60 comedians including Trevor Noah, Casper de Vries, Chris Forrest and Eugene Khoza.
The number of female comedians however, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Among them is Nina Hastie, who will be performing two shows titled Kings And Queens Of Comedy and My Child. Hastie has been a professional comedian for more than 10 years, but has only been doing it full time for the past two years.
The 32-year-old from Pretoria has a unique style of comedy. She is a white woman who tells jokes which many of her friends would call “black jokes”. “Comedy is about who you are,” she says.
“I may be a white woman, but I’m part of the black culture of this country. People can laugh at me because they know I’m part of the culture, so I’m laughing at myself too. I’m not on the outside making jokes about a culture that I know nothing of.” That said, the comedian doesn’t want to be put in a box.
“To say I’m a comedian who only tells jokes which appeal to black people is not true. I’m a South African, I don’t know everything about everything. The only thing I’m trying to do with my comedy is to show the prejudice that still exists in our country through laughter.” Hastie says it isn’t necessarily more difficult for women to be accepted into the local comic fraternity.
“The only thing that I could say held me back from getting into comedy full time was me. I spent a lot of time figuring out exactly who I was and working on my delivery. Because you need to be confident in yourself before you get on that stage.”
So what can people expect from her shows at this year’s International Comedy Festival? “On Kings And Queens I’m a bit more feminine. I explore topics that many South African women can relate to. And on My Child, the comedy is a bit more rough.”
Hastie has headlined comedy festivals such as the Comedy Festival, Soweto Comedy Festival and the Wits Comedy Festival. Last year, she performed her one woman show Hey, Nina (Hey, You guys in isiZulu) at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.