Arts & Culture

Riaad Moosa

Comedian / actor

Riaad Moosa remembers the final performance of his debut one-man show, Strictly Halaal, at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg in 2006. He was on top form that night, performing for an expressive crowd — the perfect setting for his first DVD recording. In that moment he remembers feeling as if he had achieved all he wanted to. And then it happened — with the timing and construction of a fatalistic farce he found out that the film crew had messed up and there was no recording of his “waiting to exhale” moment. Luckily he had his sense of humour to fall back on.

The Comics Choice award-winner in 2011, 34-year-old Moosa is affectionately known as the “comedy doctor”. Moosa is a qualified medical doctor but admittedly dispenses more laughter than medicine, saying that the only medical advice he can offer nowadays is: “Go see a doctor.”

As a Muslim comedian, Moosa often touches on post-9/11 Islamaphobia and chooses not to use profanity and explicit vocabulary, making his shows accessible to the whole family. He is proud husband and hands-on father, and some of his comic material is inspired by his family.

Of late, Moosa’s career has shifted towards acting. His movie Material took seven years to conceptualise and complete and will forever be known as the movie that made critic Barry Ronge cry. In the movie Moosa plays Cassim, a young man who wants to be a comedian but his father disapproves. This is one instance where Moosa didn’t relate to his character, as his family have always been supportive of his career choices. Continuing in this more serious vein, Moosa recently accepted the role of Ahmed Kathrada, a former South African politician and political prisoner, in the movie adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s book Long Walk to Freedom.

— Zeenat Mahomed

Twitter: @RiaadMoosa

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