'I was never the class clown' - Stella Dlangalala says ahead of the Joburg International Comedy Festival

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Stella Dlangalala will be performing at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival.
Stella Dlangalala will be performing at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival.

It was bravery and taking a risk at an open mic evening at Kitcheners in Braamfontein in 2018 that kickstarted her career in comedy.

Now a few short years later, she is one of the headlining acts at a comedy show.

She was not always a funny child, but the performing arts were an outlet for Stella Dlangalala (33) and they helped her gain confidence.

“In grade 7 we did skits for the school, and I remember every time it was my turn on stage, the kids would be bursting out in laughter. This was strange for me because I have always been a shy child. I was never the class clown, but in high school when I did drama as a subject, I often chose comedic monologues,” she says.

In high school, Stella did drama as a subject and she kept getting better at her craft.

“I decided to pursue it as a career, but my parents were not feeling it. Eventually they agreed, only if I did other courses to fall back on. So I did drama, media and marketing at UKZN. Now I see why it was important for me to do other things, this is not an easy career. Kuyashuba.”

Her name, Stella, means a lot to her.

"It means big star. It comes from the word constellation and I feel like in many ways that is how my career is shaping up. Becoming a star like my name suggests."

She is gifted in dance, acting and comedy and says she cannot choose between the three mediums.

“As long as I am performing, I am happy. As long as people are moved by what I do, then I am happy. But I really cannot choose.”

She says the South African film and TV industry can still do more in terms of dance movies or series.

Read more | Comedian Ndumiso Lindi on grief, loss and his one man show, Boys Don't Cry

“I feel like we have not tapped into the full potential of what can come out of our country. Our biggest things are humour and dance. There should be a way we can showcase our talent to the world. We are already contributing so much to the dance culture and choreography internationally. TikTok is really helping people show what talents they have.”

She is no stranger to the platform and other social media because she used it to get her name out there.

“When I was not getting gigs, I decided to sharpen my craft and keep pushing myself to do the next thing. I would then post a lot on social media hoping that one day someone would spot me and see my versatility.

“And that, is how I got the role on The Wife. The casting director sent me a message saying they has seen my reels on social media and they thought I would be great for the show.

“I had to do a lot of research for that role because I do not personally know anyone who has schizophrenia. I read a lot and I watched a lot of footage. I did not want to play someone schizophrenic, I wanted to be believable for the viewers and be schizophrenic.

“It was an honour to be working with Lerato Mvelase who is so amazing. And I know a lot of people wanted her character to be with Bhut’omdala, but my character killed her, which was a shame.

“I loved how the directors would even ask me for input. One of my last scenes in the show, before I killed Nomusa, I had an episode where I spoke to myself, in a full on conversation in different voices – that was a suggestion I had made and they took it and it turned out great.”

Because she had been making people laugh on social media before getting gigs, a lot of people suggested that she try out comedy but she did not think it was a good idea.

“I thought just because I was funny on Facebook, it did not mean that I would be funny in front of a live audience. But because I believe in trying things out, I got on stage at an open mic evening at Kitcheners and people actually laughed. I never looked back.”

She says her theatre training helps her on stage when she is doing her comedy. Whether she is portraying an Indian aunty from Chatsworth, or a taxi driver named Sipho, she gives it her all.

“I do not only use my script, but I also use my voice and body to tell the story. That way, I am able to take the audience on a journey and they can visualize it with me.”

Because she is so bubbly on her social media, people always expect her to be as energetic in real life.

“I am much calmer in real life,” she laughs.

Read more | Trevor Noah delighted to host the Grammys for the third time in a row - 'I'm super excited'

“I cannot always be on a hundred. I am also like other people who run errands and I am super chilled.”

She will be performing at the Johannesburg International Comedy Festival from 31 March to 2 April and Emperors Palace in Kempton Park.

“People can come expecting to have lots of fun. I will be telling a lot of stories about me coming to Joburg and my experiences. There’ll be fun and characters and to be on brand, they can expect the unexpected because with me anything goes.”

The line up includes the likes of Tats Nkonzo, Dalin Oliver, Jason Goliath, Rob van Vuuren, Eugene Khoza, Khanyisa Bunu, Yaaseen Barnes, Lihle Msimang, Brian Aylward, Carvin Goldstone, Justice Khubeka, Thenjiwe and Felix Hlope.

Her focus right now is her work.

“I am as single as a leaf,” she says bursting out into laughter.

“I am not seeing anyone, I am very focused on my career. But that should not stop anyone from shooting their shot, sending DMs or ukushela. Anything is possible." 

Show Comments ()