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Mpho Popps the star of awards shows

Comedian currently sought-after events host

Mpho Popps at the 28th annual South African Music Awards (SAMA) at Sun City Superbowl in Sun City.
Mpho Popps at the 28th annual South African Music Awards (SAMA) at Sun City Superbowl in Sun City.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Comedian, actor and TV host Mpho “Popps” Modikoane is a man of the moment when it comes to hosting shows.

Modikoane is set to create his own history hosting both SA’s prestigious awards in seven days of each other. Last week, the funnyman hosted the South African Music Awards (Samas) in Sun City, North West. Fresh from those awards, Modikoane scored another gig to host South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) that are taking place this weekend virtually. He will be hosting alongside Khutso Theledi and GQ’s Best Dressed breakout star Ryle De Morny.

The first night of the Saftas is tonight and will be hosted by multi-talented radio and TV personalities — Smash Afrika and Candice Modiselle.

The actor, who has expanded his skills to acting and producing, is looking forward to showcasing his many outfits. Though he did not want to reveal who is dressing him, he  says if time allows he will change 10 times.

Speaking to Time Out, Modikoane said he was still yearning for more time to flush out Samas from his system and get ready for Saftas. After hosting such a big event like Samas, he believes that one requires a couple of days to recover.

“I need time to sort myself out mentally and emotionally decompress. You know, because when you're in the moment, you're not enjoying what people are enjoying because you are working. It is only afterwards where you get to watch yourself and see how you have performed. But I enjoyed the show. With Samas it was kind like a last-minute thing because Samas were supposed to have happened sooner.

“This week, I will also be working with amazing people. I saw Khutso tweeting that it will be the first time hosting an event and I was like, definitely it won’t be the last time. Once you host your first show others will follow. I'm also looking forward to the awards in general.”

Modikoane explains that no matter how much he has hosted events, he still gets nervous just before the show starts. As an experienced TV host, the funnyman says he normally prays just before the show goes live to deal with nerves. He says he has realised that this ritual was calming him down.

“You know, you can do as much as you can when it comes to preparation. But when those camera lights come on and they are counting down, the nerves start. You know with live [TV], there is no retake, you just have to kill it. I've hosted live shows where the teleprompter was off, but we had to do a link. The one thing I really love about doing these live shows is the energy that is there with audience and presenters.”

When Saftas announced Modikoane as a host, he tweeted that he is grateful that his ancestors have been working overtime opening the opportunities for him. The stand-up comedian has been on a streak of success lately, hosting major industry events in the past weeks that include hosting Khanyi Mbau’s Comedy Central Roast.

“I do believe that my ancestors have been working overtime. You know, my grandmother, who was very close to me, passed away in 2020. By nature, my family is a very close family. We have a little family unit and we always stick together. We spend our time together. And my grandmother was the matriarch of that.

“Honestly speaking, things have been amazing for me. I am on Netflix show called Only Jokes Allowed. I got the roasting master gig, hosted awards. I am grateful for these opportunities. You know, I might not be in a great space mentally and but I am healing. I think I've put in a lot of work and I've been working tirelessly for the past 14 years on my craft. I feel like when my grandmother died she spoke to God to open things up for me.”

Now that the 35-year-old has established his name locally as a stand-up comedian, he wants to grow his profile internationally. When Covid-19 happened, the comedian was supposed to tour Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda in a bid to grow his profile. Modikoane further wants to explore TV production and he was an executive producer in the movie Thina Sobabili.

“So for me, I can't wait to go out there and perform and go see people. I'm a people's person. I like engaging with crowds. I've also been working on storytelling. I am very focused on my comedy but over and above I'd like to go back on the road and just tour. I have some idea of the shows that I would like to do.”

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