Bunu ‘grows up’ for more serious role

They say dynamite comes in small packages and never was the statement more true than in the case of teacher turned comedian turned actress Khanyisa Bunu.

The Whittlesea comedian, who first showed up in the entertainment industry as a contestant on So You Think You’re Funny, has come a long way since trying to impress judges on the reality series as she is now making her mark on South African television.

The first woman to win the audience choice award at the Comics’ Choice Awards, Bunu is one of the newest actresses to join the cast of e.tv’s popular soapie Scandal!.

Bunu said her new role is decidedly more challenging than her current one on SABC1’s Ses’Top La.

On Ses’Top La Bunu comically portrays a stereotypical nosy maid called Nobuhle who gets into her share of trouble in a role that earned her national fame.

The mother-of-one chats to Weekend Post about her new role on Scandal!, leaving teaching for comedy and whether or not she’s had any regrets about the decision.

What can you tell us about your new role on Scandal!?

It’s not too different from the one I play on Ses’Top La but it’s a bit more challenging, more mature, more serious.
I definitely feel like it is going to stretch me as an actress in a way I haven’t been challenged before.

Have you started filming yet?

Yes, I started filming about six weeks ago and it’s been great. It’s very different from being on the set of Ses’Top La because Scandal! has a big cast and you hardly see the other actors on the show – people shoot their scenes and go off. I love it because I’ve got more days off than before!

Did you leave teaching because you wanted to pursue a career as a comedian?

When I left teaching, I didn’t know I would pursue a career in comedy. All I knew was that I needed a change of scenery.

When you entered So You Think You’re Funny did you know you could make people laugh?

I have always been a funny person but I was weighing up my options. I found out about the auditions and I thought, why not venture into comedy? Even though I didn’t win the competition, being on the show opened doors for me.

How has life been as a full-time comedian? Do you ever regret leaving teaching?

The first two years were rough because you’re not used to making money from it and earning a living.
But in 2014, I started getting regular bookings. Last year was the best because it was my busiest year.

Are there any challenges of being a female comedian in a male-dominated industry?

I don’t think it’s any tougher. It’s much easier to notice and remember a funny female comedian than a male comedian just because there’s a lot more of them. Personally I think it’s an advantage.

What advice would you give upcoming comedians who want to make it in the industry?
If you feel you can do comedy, try it and see … and then start building your own audience. Be willing to work hard because I can guarantee you there will be someone coming up behind you who is willing to put in the work. Also get an education and study because it’s always good to have a back-up plan. Nothing is guaranteed.

Do you have any performances lined up in the Eastern Cape region?
I will be performing my second one-woman show, called From the Classroom to the Stage at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival from July 4 to 9. It basically tells the story of my life and how I left my job.

  • Joining Bunu on the set of Scandal! will be veteran Port Elizabeth actress Nomhle Nkonyeni.
    The announcement was made last week by PE Opera House general manager Monde Ngonyama.

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