Laughing All the Way to Stardom

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Friday, 20th October 2023
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The crowd couldn't stop laughing at the expense of Krista Rensburg, an aspiring comic who recalled a humiliating moment in her life. "I won't say it again until another comedy show." It was about my pants and a very incriminating brown stain that I unknowingly paraded," Krista reflected on her time on stage.

She was one of the many up-and-coming comics who braved the spotlight in the first ever, Makhanda Open Mic Comedy Competition. The competition, hosted by local comic local comic Langa ‘Illy’ Kulati, took place during Heritage and Tourism month to help share our stories, in a light-hearted way.

The Rhodes University Bachelor of Music student explained that she grew up on stage and that entering the competition was an opportunity to explore a new medium of performance and creative style. 

“It was very exciting! This competition helped me realise that stand up is something I’d like to possibly pursue career-wise. I’d actually been writing material for stand up since 2022, however I was only inspired to perform this year during the competition, an opportunity that I’m eternally grateful for as it opened my eyes to not only the difficulty of stand up in comparison to other performative art forms, but also helped me discover the passion I have for comedy.” 

“In a funny way, I’ve been preparing for this moment my entire life!” she said.

Krista gets her ideas for her regimen from her crazy and adventurous daily life. 

Krista gets her ideas for her routine from her adventurous daily life. “Every time I thought of a joke or thought other people may find this funny, I’d just jot it down in my notes app and I guess it came in very handy.”

Some of her role models in the entertainment industry are comedians such as John Mulaney, Trevor Noah and Kate Pinchuck. “I discovered Kate at the National Arts Festival in 2022 who showed me that women also have a prominent space in comedy to fill”.

Langa, born in Makhanda and affectionately known as Illy, is a regular and popular comic on the comedy scene, having appeared in sold-out performances such as Eastern Cape's Finest Comedians. Speaking about the area's plethora of comic talent, he stated that Makhanda had produced countless comedians through Rhodes University. Among those who work both nationally and internationally are Rob van Vuuren, Tsepiso Nzayo, Virgil Prins, Seneliso Dladla, Tyson Ngubeni, and Kate Pinchuck.

He said that stand-up comedy is one of the fastest growing entertainment industries in the world. "The Eastern Cape comics make up more than 40% of those working on the South African circuit." However, the quantity of stand-up comedy shows has reduced because most Makhanda venues are still recovering financially from the Covid-19 outbreak."

"So, Makhanda Open Mic Comedy Competition is all about celebrating this great art medium and promoting more local comedians through an open mic segment," Langa added.

The competition recruited competitors using a video application, held three preliminary rounds, and a grand finale on September 28.

Keep your tabs on upcoming open mic segments by reaching out to Illy on

Photograph: Local comic, Langa ‘Illy’ Kulati congratulating 2023 Makhanda Open Mic Comedy Competition winner, Kirsta Rensburg with a cash prize sponsored by Makana Tourism.

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