Khanyisa Bunu: Funny and brilliant

Picture credit: Supplied
Picture credit: Supplied

It's not often that a newcomer gets to open a show for mega comedy stars such as Trevor Noah.

But the hilariously funny Khanyisa Bunu had this privilege this Women's Month.

"There is nothing like opening for Trevor Noah, first of all when [Trevor's manager] Ryan called me... eish I could not believe it. He called me and said 'You're gonna open for Trevor Noah'... it never sank in," Bunu says.

The former teacher turned comedian said four days before the show she had an artistic block... a complete blank.

"Miraculously on the day of the show my creative juices started flowing, I started writing and that material killed," she laughs.

"It was one of those moments I will never forget, and the audience loved me," she says, ranking it as a career highlight.

Bunu left teaching nine years ago. It had taken longer for her to realise that her gift of the gab can turn into a fruitful career.

"I was always the centre of attention, regaling my family with stories of my mischievous comings and goings at boarding school."

After matric, she first registered for law, and never studied for her exams. As a result she failed dismally and admits to wasting her parents' money.

She had to stay home in Whittlesea, a small town south of Queenstown in Eastern Cape, for a year until she figured out what to do.

Teaching was a way forward because she figured it was "easy".

"I taught geography and English at Zolani High (in Whittlesea) but I was not entirely happy."

She came to Gauteng in 2008 and entered a writing competition organised by Maskew Miller Longman publishers. The company published her Xhosa novel Umbhodamo, which is a set book for Grade 8 and 9 in Eastern Cape.

Still, she wasn't completely fulfilled. After coming across an advert, asking "So you think you are funny", she decided to enter.

She was confident because her whole life people have told her she was funny. During the auditions in Bloemfontein, she was told the judges don't laugh - but when it was her turn the judges fell off their chairs.

She made it to the top six.

"As women we need to take courage. Life becomes a maze, we need to discover what we are made for and just go for it.

"Our country needs us as women to stand up and stop the PHD (pull her down syndrome). After all we are the ones who carry men in our wombs for nine months. So how is this a man's world?"

In 2011 Bunu came back to Joburg and started pursuing her comedy career.

Three years later her career reached new heights as she won the 2014 Savanna Comic's Choice Audience Choice Award - the first woman to win the coveted award.

Soon after she performed and hosted a number of major headline events, including Kings & Queens of Comedy, Blacks Only and the Comedy Central Roast Battle in 2016.

Bunu has performed on the international circuit too, with outstanding performances in Botswana, Nigeria, Swaziland and most notably at the Greenwich Village Comedy Club in the capital of comedy, New York.

Her most well-known performances have been on Season 4 of Ses Top La on SABC 1 and recent appearances on e.tv's Scandal.

The hardest thing she has learnt about the industry is that being funny is not enough.

"There are so many other factors which affect your progress, I have never doubted the fact that I was funny. But my dream is to be the most sought-after female performer and comedian in Africa, and my journey is only just beginning."

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