My kind of comedian

He calls himself “The Other South African Comedian”. It’s witty and catchy, just how a comedian should be. The tagline is great for marketing ahead of his many international tours this year. But, I have a major problem with it.
To me, he is no “other”. He is my friend and brother. Yes, my brother from across the road, literally.
Carvin H Goldstone grew up in Newlands East. I grew up in Newlands West. Yes, it was just a road that separated the South African Indian and Coloured communities growing up in the 80s (giving away our ages there!) Yet, our experiences were common, and what connects us today. I didn’t meet Carvin under those circumstances. It was actually almost two decades later.
He was clearly the coolest dude on City Campus of the then Technikon Natal, where we both started studying journalism. His natural comic timing was evident from day one – and got stronger in the three years that we were there. Carvin put the funny back into studying for us all – a mixed bunch of journalists across the racial spectrum; discovering life and ourselves, as adults in the real world. Carvin and I spent a lot of time together, in and out of class. Perhaps, more so, because his love interest, who later became his wife, was my best friend! Carvin also became a firm favourite with my folks and sisters. He really is that endearing.
Last week, I finally caught up with him, straight from his comedy gig off the ship, at his home in Durban. And, it was hours before another gig. Carvin is one busy man.

The many expressions of Carvin H Goldstone. I have to admit, I love my own expression here too!

Did he ever anticipate that he would be a sought-after comedian? He laughs. He says he still can’t believe it. But, he admits he loved being on stage from a young age.
At the age of six, by sheer co-incidence of being at the right place at the right time, he played the role of a shepherd for a school play. He was elated. It was a huge moment for him, and he was bitten by the stage bug. He was already a wonder kid by then. Carvin went to school two years earlier than was the standard for his age and this continued throughout his career – so he always raised eyebrows.
When he was about 10 years old, he saw a play by learners at Newlands East Secondary. It was based on Grease – “slick, phenomenal and inspiring” is how Carvin remembers it, as if it were yesterday. That’s how he chose his high school. Things didn’t turn out as he had expected. Sadly, the drama teacher had passed away and Carvin says he was gutted. He had been at the school for a year, and still no play! So the next year, he persevered and put on his own play with fellow learners based on the June 16th Soweto Uprisings. Somehow, when it came to deciding on a career choice, he leaned more towards journalism, saying he could always pursue drama with his feet firmly in the media industry.
How poignant; that’s exactly what happened.
On campus, he impersonated everyone. I know I was a victim too! He had a wise crack for every comment. It just flowed for Carvin. It never seemed contrived to me. Or as if he was putting in too much effort. That was Carvin – a bag of laughs. And if you’re wondering, we did get work done too. A mixed bunch, as I said before, but we were serious about our craft of journalism. Our lecturers, editors and our resumes can attest to that.
It was actually on campus that Carvin was persuaded to take his comedy further. His eyes light up as he talks about his first ever comedy gig at Durban’s Point Yacht Club where he was paid R50. He was nervous. He practised in front of his father. At first, his father did not find anything funny. And then, Carvin made him laugh so much that he knew his son was onto something.  Carvin was just 17 years old at the time. He did odd comedy gigs after that. But nothing major.
Carvin-Goldstone serious.jpgHe was focussed on his journalism career at the time. He spent several years working at The Mercury and Independent on Saturday. He flourished as a journalist. But, within the newsroom, he flourished as a comedian too. He says he was given a “free pass” to imitate and impersonate people and their mannerisms. Fellow journalists, colleagues AND editors were so eager, that they would often shout “Do me! Do me!”
Carvin took it to another level when he entered and won the Madras Masala Comedy Festival upon the insistence of a colleague. It led to a meeting with a household name in Durban – Muthu Murugan. Carvin has great respect for him and acknowledges the role he played in his development as a comedian. Muthu Murugan would take Carvin to perform with him – and gave him an open and willing audience to test his comedic skills. Of course, this audience was of Indian origin. And so his comedy took that direction. Carvin says it took a while for him to develop the Coloured voice in his comedy.
It happened by co-incidence, again. During a braai with friends in Newlands East, he began talking about their lives growing up in the community. He touched on their parents, their homes, school and everything in between. It was relatable, it was funny, it was clean. And that’s how the idea for his one man comedy show “No Swearing” at the Playhouse in Durban began. It’s still his best show, he says. And with the DVD of the show, his style of comedy became more popular and more watched. He calls it comedy with a purpose, and meaning.
cover no swearing.jpg
His journalism career was also taking off. Carvin joined e-News as a sports journalist, and also reported on daily, breaking news. He has several regional and national Vodacom Journalist Awards under his belt.  He tells me that the story closest to his heart is that of Ronald Dlamini. Watch it here…
Watching that, you realise where Carvin gets his thread of storytelling from. It’s that passion of journalism and telling it like it is; that is now woven into his comedy. In 2015, due to popular demand, he decided to immerse himself into comedy full time.
There have been many national and international tours since then, and this year, he is pushing the limits. He will be in Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Qatar, to name but a few of his international destinations. There are others on his wish-list and in the pipeline. With all this, does he feel successful?
“No ways! I don’t feel by any stretch that I have made it. I did not even think my comedy would appeal to people beyond Newlands East.”
With that, we enter into a quick question and answer session…
When will you stop doing comedy?
When I have nothing to say. For now, I still have a lot to say. But when I’m happy and comfortable to stop, I will.
What do you miss most when you perform?
My family. Good food. And, sleep.
Your favourite dish?
Lamb breyani
Can you cook?
What do you love to do when you are free?
Play with the kids. Relax. Do nothing
Do you see yourself as a role model for the Coloured community? Not really. I also have my flaws. I just think I’m bringing an alternative narrative in a community that has too much of one narrative. The power to change that is in the hands of community and we should not blame the media or anyone else.
Your best compliment as a comedian?
When people say I make them think of their grandmother. It warms my heart that I can have a good effect.
I say to myself, but you always have had that effect Carvin. I told you, he is no “other”, he is my brother.
Here’s one of my favourite videos of Carvin, because yes, I grew up eating Post Toasties.

(All images from Carvin H Goldstone’s Facebook page)

6 thoughts on “My kind of comedian

  1. Just showed the video to all the ladies that work here at Zimbali. Literally have my phone in my hand with a whole group of ladies around me and my phone is on full blast!!! only one person knew what post toasties were!!! Had such a good laugh again!!!!

  2. I love this Maya. Its like you write of my experiences with Carvin or anyone who has had the opportunity to get to know him even if it’s just for a short while. Great piece.

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