7 things to know about Salesman – this week’s star in Trippin With Skhumba

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In this week’s episode of the Showmax Original Trippin With Skhumba, the 2018 DStv Viewers’ Choice Award: Favourite Comedian winner and 2017 Comics’ Choice Comic of the Year visits Salesman’s childhood home in Mabopane township outside Pretoria – as well as the tavern that gave him his break, the stage he was sjambokked on, the stokvel he still gives money to, and the freeway he nearly died on…

Here are seven things you should know about Salesman, who won the Non-English Comic Award at the 2017 Comics’ Choice Awards:

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#1. Salesman has been in eight car accidents

Salesman meets Skhumba at the freeway where he had his eighth car accident when an oncoming car swerved onto his side of the road as he was driving to Monsterlus for a wedding. “I almost died on this road,” Salesman tells Skhumba. “It was bad…  All I could do was protect my face. As long as my tongue is safe because I need that for work.”

Salesman jokes that he must be a cat with nine lives. “This is where I lost my eighth life; I’m now left with my last one.”

Skhumba says that explains Salesman’s distinctive voice: ”Your accent dude. Your ‘meow’ thing… You sound like a cat.”

#2. Salesman’s real name is Ditshego, which means ‘laughter’

Skhumba doesn’t believe Salesman when he says that his real name is Ditshego, which means ‘laughter.’ But Salesman’s mom confirms the story. “It’s even on his ID,” she tells Skhumba. “His father named him Ditshego. He said the way he makes jokes he’ll make the whole world laugh.”

“And that’s happening now,” Skhumba says.

#3. Salesman was the fifth kid – and has three himself

Salesman has four older siblings. “According to the look of things, they were well off,” Salesman says. “But when I was born the wealth was depleted. The first four children depleted it and I’m the skinny one to show that things were bad.”

He has three children himself – Zainab, Sharifah and Magdi. When Skhumba asks why they’re not called Dipuo or Zinhle, Salesman explains that he’d converted to Islam then.

#4. Salesman converted to Islam and changed his name to Jafar Sabiq
Salesman converted to Islam after a year that included accidents two to six and saw him lose his job and be declared medically unfit to work. “When things start looking bad… your praying becomes so sincere,” Salesman says. “The closest people who gave me the motivation of good behaviour were Muslims.”

When Skhumba teases him about changing his name to Jafar Sabiq, Salesman replies, “Wait ‘til you have problems; you just might be Mohammad next week.”

#5. Salesman is part of a stokvel

Salesman takes Skhumba to his stokvel, where he makes his contribution “so that I can save up for better things.” As Salesman puts it, “This is the mini insurance for us comedians.”

This has Skhumba in hysterics. “Salesman has a pocket book where they sign if he’s made payment or not. I’ve never seen anything like this. With all the money we’re making in the industry, this guy’s still part of a hundred Rand stokvel…”

#6. When Salesman started, vernacular comedy was rare

Salesman takes Skhumba to Koki’s Tavern, where he got his break as a comedian. “When I started in the industry, vernacular comedy wasn’t common,” he says. ‘Everybody would run to make English jokes so that they can also attract the corporate side.”

He says telling jokes in the rowdy bar was the best training. “You get to check the weight of your material because these people won’t lie to you… But if they love you, they will love you for real.”

And love him they did: when Salesman was nominated for the Audience Choice Award at the 2016 Comics’ Choice Awards, the tavern even offered free beer to people who voted for him often enough…

#7. Salesman once got sjambokked on stage for stealing a joke
Salesman takes Skhumba to Morula Resort, where Salesman was sjambokked by Roni Modimola for allegedly stealing his jokes. Salesman went straight to the police station to have Modimola arrested. “I went there crying,” he says. “I put Vicks on my eyes.”

Salesman denies he stole Roni’s jokes. “Maybe some of the jokes might have been similar but they weren’t presented in the same way.”

But he admits the incident pushed him to be more original. “Now that this had happened, people would be listening with the intent to hear if I’m not stealing anyone’s jokes. That was pressure to me, that whatever I come with, it’s a hundred percent me… And I think that opened the creative mind.”

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