An entertainer finding himself

I am not normal.

I’ve accepted this. It’s taken years of arguing with myself (often audibly) for me to come to that conclusion. I struggle to “take things seriously”. I need to play.

You know that guy who’s always got the most random twists to situations and crazy comments? – I see myself in him. Bless him. He’s a lovely bloke.

I was a shy kid. The last of four siblings, I was the introverted chubby kid under mom’s wing – and I loved it. I was always curious though. Always watching and taking things in.

I moved to my dear uncle’s place in Springs for my high school stint (2002 – 2006). That is where the shyness would be shedded. In the terrain that is Springs Boys’ High School, the surroundings allowed for the effervescence of the personality to surface. I’ll credit that mostly to God [the designer] as well as some of the upperclassmen I hung out with from 8th to 10th grade.

By the time I was in my last year of high school (2006), I was churning out randomness and basking in an ability to evoke laughter at a surprising frequency. I cannot explain the intense feeling of accomplishment and self-fulfilment that comes with drawing cackles out of a crowd of my peers. A large part of my social experience became about finding the funny in almost anything.

My ambition to study film at AFDA [one of South Africa’s leading film institutions] was scuppered by the school’s hefty fees. That struck a significant body blow to the dream that was moulded throughout high school. Film was supposed to be one of my creative outlets. I was convinced I possessed one of the most creative minds on the planet.

That’s not what I walked around proclaiming, though. It’s just a strong personal conviction.

“I’ll just work for one year, then get funding for film school the next,” I said to myself after a depressing period in which the film dream slowed.

That’s when IBM came into the picture. In June 2007, the company took a small group of us in as part of a pilot project. The plan was to equip us with Dutch language skills and eventually to have us working for their (Dutch) IT service centres. So there I was, a 19 year old thrust into the corporate whirlwind and waking up every morning to do what I had sworn a personal oath never to do – work in an “office job”.

Here’s the catch – I was having the time of my life. It turned out I had a knack for the language. Why Dutch? It happens to be the “mother language” for one of SA’s  official languages – Afrikaans. Basically, Afrikaans stemmed from Dutch. I blazed through the four-month-long language course with surprising aptitude and was then working within the (telephonic) IT service sector of the company.

Having settled into the new environment well, I got to know my colleagues and inevitably, the randomness trickled through. [Please note that by “randomness”, I refer to my tendency to find the funny in everything]. I gradually became known around the office for my twisted view of everything and revelled in it.

By the time I was in my third year at the company (2009), I became exposed to the most gorgeous form of expression – Stand-up comedy. Words cannot describe the sheer “This is what I do” feeling I got when I gave it a try. There came adventures at comedy clubs, which I’ll get to later in detail.

Frustrated with the lack of creativity around me, I used my savings to leap into a journalism degree at Rhodes University. I had no idea what I would be exposed to. The place, the people… the drama.

We’ll get to that in a second. Stay tuned.

-Tyson

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