I must admit to loving WCafés because of a tuna sandwich. Sadly, they’re removed it from the menu. They’ve updated it, but now it’s a Niçoise situation, and I am just not a Niçoise kind of guy. Man, that fish sandwich, it was just perfect – an open sandwich on ciabatta, with just a slight tang of mayo, and some coleslaw on the side … But that was then. Today I am having the chilli egg omelette, because I like a bit of spice.
Chuckles are my secret vice. I love the yellow pack, the peanuts. Lots of other people must love them too, because they’re often sold out! I try to eat healthily but it’s hard if you work at night, because then you come home and you’re starving and you open the cupboard and there are the Chuckles, just waiting for you.
I have this one dish that I am very good at. You slice some bread, and there’s this device called a toaster, and you pull down the levers and you wait and the bread shoots out … No, I help with the prep but my wife is the expert when it comes to cooking. My daughter, she’s only nine, but she’s a pro, baking cakes and flapjacks.
We have four kids, aged one, four, nine and 11 – three boys and a girl. It’s busy and challenging but also unbelievably rewarding. Children give such meaning to your life. I always say you don’t often see parents heading off to India to “find” themselves. Kids provide purpose. Not that it’s always easy – I try to negotiate with my kids but my wife, Farzanah, just needs to adjust the circumference of her eyes and they fall in line. They’re so sweet though, and they always treat me with something on Father’s Day. Preferably not breakfast in bed – our bedroom is upstairs and it’s pandemonium with them squabbling over who carries what.
We follow quite a healthy diet and lifestyle. I’d call it Indian cuisine with a healthy spin. Lots of healthy fats, loads of veggies, as little sugar as possible. We’re also on the gluten-free end of the spectrum because my son is allergic. My favourite dish is the classic breyani we eat as part of lunch on the big, congregational Fridays.
I’m on a big health kick at the moment. I’ve decided that I want to be my fittest ever in my forties. I had a big back operation last year and it changed my outlook. After the op I suddenly felt old! So I’m focusing on my diet, being careful with the carbs and doing some intermittent fasting. I know if I can get the eating right, I’m halfway there. I’m not sure that I’ll ever have abs though and be all oiled up on the cover of Men’s Health … But it’s the goal that counts.
Wellness is also a big focus in my work now. I’m working on a project called The Best Medicine; the plan is to be educational about health in a humorous way. I’m doing videos, and planning some podcasts, and then I’ve also got a recurring skit planned called The Sick Doctor, in which I’ll be documenting my experiences with all sorts of therapies. Next up is my show Not a Nice Guy, which will run at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town in June. Basically, it’s about getting older and feeling like I’m getting a bit more cynical. When you’re young, you try to be nice on the inside and the outside, but as you get older you kind of get over that. I think it’s because you’ve seen more of the world, and you have more responsibilities. And you realise the human condition is one of conflict – the heart says one thing, the brain says another, the animal brain has its own point of view. I’ll be doing this show for the rest of the year throughout South Africa, and when I’m happy with it I’ll film it. I want all my work to be easily accessible online.
I was halfway through studying medicine when I decided to switch to comedy. This was around 2000 and stand-up comedy wasn’t big in South Africa yet. It was something I did on the side while studying. Then I had the opportunity to be part of the Pure Monate comedy show on SABC. I’ve never looked back. I would be much more melancholic without comedy. It makes me more playful.
Being part of the Netflix series Comedians of the World was an amazing experience. It’s challenging doing comedy overseas because people don’t know how to place me in context. They don’t know how to place my accent, which is a very flat Cape Town accent of Indian descent. So I’ve learned to lead with my accent, almost a kind of deconstruction of the way I talk, and then afterwards it’s easier to connect with them. But it’s tricky, I mean I am of Indian descent but I look Arab. Yet my first language is English. And I trained in medicine, yet now I am a comedian. That whole package is something they’ve never seen before.
Follow Riaad Moosa on Twitter: @RiaadMoosa