Trevor Noah doc on Mzansi Magic


An award-winning documentary about popular South African stand-up comic Trevor Noah, directed by Los Angeles based David Paul Meyer, will begin broadcasting on pay-TV platform DStv this week, on the Mzansi Magic channel.

You Laugh But It’s True shows how a multiracial comedian (Noah) creates material from his experiences during apartheid as he prepares for the biggest show of his life.

You Laugh But It’s True will be broadcast on Mzansi Magic on Thursday, 6 September at 21h30 and on Saturday, 8 September at 22h00. There will be additional broadcasts to be announced shortly.

The film started out as Meyer’s thesis project to satisfy his graduating requirements for his master’s degree in film at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Says Meyer: “I set out to make a documentary about a story somewhere in Africa that didn’t just focus on war, poverty, or disease. As I became drawn to the theme of comedy coming from tragedy, I wondered what comedy looked like in say, South Africa for example. I then met a South African studying at a university in Los Angeles so I pitched my idea to him and he referred me to his cousin Rabin Harduth, who is very involved in the comedy scene in South Africa.

“After a brief conversation, I bought a ticket and three weeks later was flying out to Johannesburg, having never been to South Africa or Africa before. Rabin introduced me to various comics in Johannesburg, and it all progressed from there.

“This was back in 2008 and that’s when I first saw Trevor Noah perform. He had only been doing stand-up for a year or two, but even then, I saw something special.’

You Laugh But It’s True was funded through donations from Meyer’s family, friends, and American actor Anthony Anderson’s foundation.

The film’s synopsis reads: In South Africa’s emerging world of stand-up comedy, comedians of colour have only recently started performing on stage. With the opportunity to finally command the attention of a large audience, they go beyond just settling for easy laughs and confront the legacy of apartheid head on in their material.

Against the backdrop of this volatile environment, 25-year-old Trevor Noah ambitiously pursues his passion to entertain. Yet his fledgling career as a comedian is largely relegated to headlining at corporate events due to the country’s comedy scene being so small.

Determined to pursue his dream of performing all over the world, Noah decides to produce his first one-man show, despite his lack of experience performing on stage. Based on

the size of the proposed venue alone, it will be the most ambitious debut ever attempted by a comedian in South Africa. To prepare for the show, Noah revisits his past, creating

material from memories of growing up in the township under apartheid. As the child of an interracial couple, a union that was illegal in South Africa at the time of his birth, Trevor’s life

reveals the story of an outsider who has somehow figured out a way to relate to everyone through his comedy.

Despite this progress, the preparation for the show becomes increasingly difficult as Trevor faces a multitude of challenges: an underdeveloped comedy scene, criticism from other comics, strained personal relationships, lingering racial tension, and a shocking family tragedy.

Festival Screenings/Awards:

IDFA 2011 (Competition for First Appearance)

Austin Film Festival 2011

Friars Club Comedy Festival 2011 – Winner of Jury Award for Best Documentary

Boulder Film Fest 2012, Planete Doc Film Festival (Official Selection)

Encounters South Africa Int. Documentary Festival (Official Selection)

Lighthouse Int. Film Festival – Winner of Jury Award for Best Documentary

Official Trailer:

Official Website:


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