Riaad Moosa, a silver medallion graduate of the College of Magic in Cape Town, started his comedy career as a comedy magician. Regularly enchanting people with his special blend of magic and comedy, he was presented with the Comedy Magic Award at the Centre for the Magical Arts in Cape Town. He performed at many birthday parties where he was constantly tormented by uncles-who-think-they’re-funny asking him, “Hey, Mr. Magician, you gonna make my wife disappear?” That’s genius that…
Riaad, who is also a qualified medical doctor (yes, really), started doing standup comedy while still studying at the University of Cape Town Medical School. He was an instant hit, receiving rave reviews at his debut show. But then again, he failed his first chemistry test at UCT in Jameson Hall; he claims that he was distracted by the birds…
Riaad started performing stand-up at the Cape Comedy Collective’s free Comedy Lab workshops, and just two months later he was the winner of the hotly contested One City, Many Comics Talent Competition held as part of the One City Festival in September 1999. Since then, Riaad has mended his ways and does not endorse bribery anymore.
Being one of the first members of the Cape Comedy Collective, he became a regular headliner on the comedy circuit during his rookie year, where he was also invited to perform on Pieter Dirk Uys’s “Evita Live and Dangerous” eTV comedy show.
Alongside comedians David Levinson and Paul Snodgrass, he performed to sold-out shows (basically, only the first show was sold out. OK, not really sold out. It was full on the opening night and they gave away a lot of comps) in his debut stand-up comedy theatre production “The Paracomics” at Artscape in Cape Town.
Riaad’s humour is based on his experiences as a young Muslim relating to post-911 Islamaphobia (sounds fun, doesn’t it?), growing up in Cape Town and general observational and opinion-based humour. Skirting around the relatively taboo topics with charm and ease, this comedy doctor will split your sides and keep you in stitches at the same time.
Now, a regular headliner on comedy circuits all over South Africa, Riaad is also a sought-after act for bigger productions. He has starred in Alex Jay’s 5FM Comedy Jams and Real Concert’s Winston King Size Comedy shows, as well as headlining the Sprite Soul Comedy Jams in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
He supported Marc Curry of “Hanging with Mr. Cooper” fame, rocking the crowd at the Durban Playhouse in 2001. In 2002, he supported Russel Peters in his show “Made in India” at the Luxurama Theatre where he received excellent reviews from his parents and critics alike.
In 2002, Riaad was part of the largest stand-up show in the history of South African television “Laugh out Loud”, where he joined nine of SA’s top comics to raise half a million Rand (about $5) for the Reach for a Dream foundation.
In 2003, Riaad performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, headlining in the “Cape Comedy Collective -The new South Africa stands up” production. During his month at the festival he performed with the top comedians on the planet (OK, not ‘with’ – he performed relatively ‘near’ them. The top guys were in one theatre and Riaad was in another – close to the toilet), displaying his special brand of South African humour on a world stage.
In 2004, he was a writer and performer for SABC 1’s “Pure Monate Show”, which achieved cult status amongst South Africa’s urban youth. Riaad also featured in the “Crazy Monkey – Straight Outta Benoni” movie – one of the biggest grossing SA movies for 2005 (he had 1 line in the movie – impressive).
In September 2006 Riaad Moosa performed his first one-man show “Strictly Halaal” at the Nelson Mandela Civic Theatre. The run was sold out a week before it started and 5 extra shows over one weekend were added to meet the huge public demand. In November 2006, he continued the tour in Durban at the International Convention Centre; and, in March 2007 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre packing both houses to capacity and adding on extra shows.
He repeated the run in Johannesburg in May 2007 and produced a DVD of the show. There was a DVD out already, but he didn’t make it…a lot of Indians come to his show and they all have cell phone cameras. Riaad did a show in Durban once – after the show, there were already bootleg DVD’s of his show available in the foyer!
In 2008 Riaad appeared alongside Marc Lottering and Nik Rabinowitz in the hit variety comedy show “3 Wise Men.” The show was directed by David Kramer and was one of the fastest selling shows in 2008.
Riaad’s 2nd theatre show “For The Baracka” hit ‘The Fringe’ at The Jo’burg Theatre (formerly the Civic Theatre) in July 2009, all playing to record-breaking sold-out audiences, even prompting Riaad to add additional dates and showtimes to accommodate the overwhelming public demand. South African Muslim comedian Halal Bilal was Riaad’s support act for the show; Halal started performing with Moosa in 2007, when they did the “Make Laugh Not War” show along with the American Muslim comedy troupe, Allah Made Me Funny.
The adventures and misadventures, the pitfalls and pratfalls, of child-rearing in a changing geopolitical landscape form the theme of “Riaad Moosa For The Baracka”. In the show, Moosa grapples with raising his son in a world that appears to be on the brink of disaster – and that’s not even counting the domestic woes of sleep deprivation, psychological torture and marital strife. But, in the end, he ponders whether it’s all maybe just a blessing in disguise, a ‘baracka’ of sorts (baracka: the Arabic word for a blessing or gift in Muslim culture).
Fans and new audiences alike just couldn’t get enough of the show, which led to “Riaad Moosa for the Baracka” being extended for a grand finale in the main Nelson Mandela Theatre at the Jo’burg Theatre. Tickets for this show sold out within 30 minutes of tickets going on sale. This “extravaganza” which closed the show’s run at the theatre was filmed and is now for sale on DVD at shops everywhere.
Riaad’s standout standup comedy skills were also recently included in the DVD for the successful “Blacks Only” comedy shows, and he also featured in the Anant Singh/John Vlismas produced comedy-collective feature film “Outrageous”, which was released at cinemas nationwide in 2009 and is scheduled for DVD release in April 2010.
Along with SA’s top comedians – including Trevor Noah, David Kau, John Vlismas, Tumi Morake and Marc Lottering – Riaad was one of the headline acts supporting international superstar Eddie Izzard for the 46664 “It’s No Joke” concert in February 2010. This event raised funds for the ongoing work done by charities that fall under the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Riaad has since become a presenter of “The Second Opinion – with Dr Riaad Moosa” on the E news channel’s satirical news programme “Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola.”
In March 2011, Riaad was awarded the “Comics Choice Award” at the “1st Annual South African Comic’s Choice Awards.” Riaad Moosa once again received nominations for the Comics choice Award in both 2012 and 2013.
On 17th Feb 2012, Material, the movie that “made Barry Ronge cry” opened in SA cinemas nationwide to overwhelming critical acclaim. Having had a strong input on the script and writing process, Riaad also flexed his comedic and dramatic muscles in this movie, which continues to delight audiences all over SA.
In 2013, Material won five SAFTA’s (South African Film and Television Wards), including one for Best Actor awarded to Riaad for his role as the conflicted Cassim Kaif.
In mid 2013, he started presenting a popular health and fitness television show called “Doctors Orders” and is also toured with his live standup comedy show of the same name.
Riaad plays the role of Ahmed Kathrada in the epic Oscar Nominated and Golden Globe awarded biopic “Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom” which was released in November 2013.
Currently, he is producing the world’s first funny medical educational show #DOC or “Doctor On Call”, in which he utilises humour to communicate important and practical health promotional information. The first few episodes were launched in January 2016.
Moosa, one of the country’s most popular and acclaimed funnymen with a style all his own, is known as “the Comedy Doctor”, and he certainly seems to have the remedy for the nation’s ills at the moment: a healthy dose of laughter, straight up – hold the aspirin.
What the critics had to say:
“The man sure is funny, even on repeat…” – Helen Herimbi, The Star Tonight
“Clean cut comedy show also uplifts society.” – Sibusiso Mkwanazi, The Citizen
“Byderwetse humor, Moosa se respek” – Marzanne Van Den Berg, Beeld Plus
“Baraka… just what the doctor ordered” – Atiyyah Khan, Pretoria News
“Yes He Can” – Citizen, Citi Vibe