UP IN THE AIR WITH… SENELISO ‘SNE’ DLADLA

Sne

This award-winning comedian chats to us about his love of humour, his favourite city hang-outs and his fear of heights…

I’m a KwaZulu-Natal [KZN] boy who grew up with six siblings, which already makes an awesome story to tell. I was always the family entertainer. I fooled around every chance I got because I felt fulfilled making people laugh.

KZN isn’t only about its scenery and geography. Even though it has amazing places to visit, I’d recommend that visitors spend time with the locals. I’ve never met such loving and hospitable people anywhere else.

Durban by iStock

Sne’s stomping ground: the coastal city of Durban. Image courtesy iStock.

Unfortunately I can’t disclose my family’s address. That’s where I’d send anyone looking for a great time in KZN. My parents are cooler than I am – how they got that right I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s an ancient sangoma involved. Rather do yourself a favour and start with Durban. Go straight to Florida Rd, give me a call and say: “Sne, I was dead until now!”

People often overlook my hometown, Pietermaritzburg, when visiting KZN (they call it a city, but we all know the truth). Be sure to visit the Botanical Gardens if you’re in the area – you won’t regret it. There are always fantastic shows on at the Hexagon Theatre, as well as great comedy acts at the Golden Horse Casino. Not that I’m promoting gambling, but I think you should at least visit it, even if you’re feeling unlucky!

People always think comedy’s easy, but they don’t realise you not only have to make people laugh, but also bring them real joy for as long as you have their attention.

Sne in Orpheus

Sne (left) pictured in a poster from David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa production.

I once did a gig in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. It changed my life. The audience literally lost their minds. People were on tables, running around, bashing chairs on the floor and hitting each other because they were laughing so hard. The minute Mitchells Plain is mentioned, many misconceptions come to people’s minds, but the community there are the most down-to-earth, loving people I’ve ever encountered. Places like that are the most enjoyable ones to perform in because the audience aren’t there to be impressed – they just want to have fun with you for a few hours. That’s what comedy’s really about.

I’m currently based in Cape Town, which is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I love the people I’ve come to know here and the fast, edgy Afrikaans they speak. Above all, though, I love Cape Town’s history.

I also love the international tourists in Cape Town. It’s impossible to go through town without encountering someone from another country. It’s fantastic hearing their stories and making them feel awkward when I tell them not to take over our country, as their ancestors did. I also love trying to communicate with someone whose English isn’t great. You start using what you assume are friendly gestures, but then realise that they might mean something very different in other cultures. You might think you’re gesturing to them to come and sit next to you, but perhaps what you’re really conveying is: “I’ve got a bag of peanuts that I want you to smuggle back into your country.”

Cape Town, one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Cape Town attracts thousands of tourists each year. Image by Darling Lama.

Access Park is where you’ll find all the clothing brands you want. That’s where I usually go to get my sneakers. For incredible food, you need to hit The Old Biscuit Mill. And there’s a gem I found called Rockwell on Beach Rd in Green Point, next to the SABC studios. All I can say is: check it out! A voice inside you will say: “Thank you, Sne. Why aren’t you my life advisor!?”

There are some amazing places in Cape Town, but you have to keep your ear to the ground most of the time. The Alma Café in Rosebank has fantastic country music with a “home-cooked meal” kind of vibe. Café Mojito on Long St always has performers doing acoustic sets, sometimes with a drummer and saxophonist. The Waiting Room, also on Long St, has live jazz and is such an incredible venue that when I first went there, I asked myself: “Sne, what have you been doing with your life? Chilling at home all this time watching TV series and getting chubby!”

Capello on Long St sometimes has a marimba band which performs with a saxophonist and I also have to recommend the Cape Town Comedy Club. It has great comics, fantastic food, a beautiful vibe and the V&A Waterfront, all in one!

The V&A Waterfront one of the most scenic places in the world to watch the Rugby World Cup.

The V&A Waterfront. Image courtesy Cape Town Tourism.

The simple things in life make me laugh: conversations, circumstances, comments and attitudes. People’s constant failures are normal, but are really hilarious.

We’re living in a time when people think artists are disposable, but they aren’t. Many of them do similar things, but none are the same. My ultimate goal is to make the country and the world understand how important it is to engage with the arts.

I’m afraid of heights, so being on a flight is challenging for me. Feeling the plane leave the ground makes me feel uneasy. I always grip my seat tightly and while I might be smiling, inside I’m screaming: “Is there no other way to get there!?” People might assume that because I’m a comedian, I’m going to sabotage their flight with shenanigans – and I admit I’ve always wanted to wear a balaclava while checking in or sitting in the plane.

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