Loyisa Gola’s new show at the Fringe broadly explores the ways in which pop culture touches everything in our lives, from comedy to politics to our understanding of history as we know it, with his perspective as a South African.
From the start of the show, Gola comes across as a very relaxed guy, just making conversation with random audience members, asking who we are and where we’ve come from. His very relaxed aura persists throughout the show, so even when he’s moving into his set it almost feels like a conversation between friends rather than a performance. Due to this, he really catches you off guard with how funny and smart his incredibly wry jokes are, as well as how brilliant his impressions are. At points though, this relaxation feels like it slips into lethargy, with several strange and extended moments of dead air that seemed to serve no purpose.
Contained within his humour, Gola actually has a lot of interesting things to say about pop culture. You can see this in his winding but reasonable theory as to how Homer Simpson led to Donald Trump, or his interesting commentary on the differing perceptions of Africa and blackness around the globe. What’s particularly interesting is how deftly he interweaves pop culture into anything he wants to talk/make jokes about. At times these ideas can make the show feel a little more didactic than comedic, but Gola usually managed to pull it back to some wry humour.
With Pop Culture, Loyisa Gola creates a really smart and often funny show, which sometimes lacks the energy to fully engage the audience.