Conrad Koch is one of South Africa’s most in demand comedy talents. He combines hilarious comedy with world-class puppetry, and has done so for over fifteen years to local and international acclaim. Conrad was the winner of the 2010 Entertainer of the Year award, and of a 2012 Standard Bank Ovation Award from the National Arts Festival. He was a nominee for 2014 SA Comic of the Year, and won The Times Comic’s Pen Award for 2014, a double International EMMY nominated comedian.
What drives you? | A man with a suitcase. I am a puppet.
What is your LIFE-MISSION in one sentence? |It’s my life mission to end racism.
What do you think is often the difference between people who are good at what they do and people who are great at what they do? | Commitment and focus. I’m not a fan of the word focus, because it’s cheesy, like cheap Ford type cheesy, but the truth is that very little beats the power of singular intent. And I know how to focus, mainly because I am a puppet and have no eyelids. We can’t control what life will throw at us, what suitcase you will be put into, or what airline will lose you (in my case it was Air France, true story), but you can control what you do each morning. Focus, feedback, calibrate, repeat is the secret to all success, unless you are Donald Trump. Then just wait for your dad to give you the cash.
What is one talent or strength of yours, which has been critical to your success? | Being a puppet has really helped. It means my skin is thick. I have been punched by politicians and racists alike. Sometimes at the same time. Focus on whats helping you, the people, the events, and move around what isn’t. Too often we become obsessed with what isn’t serving us – from internet trolls to load shedding, instead of mining whats working. The advantage of being a puppet is that no matter what happens it’s never actually my fault. It’s like being an Eskom executive.
When you get / got STUCK, what caused it and how did you get going again? | Getting stuck is all part of getting to where you want to go. It’s going to happen. So instead of wasting mental energy on the fact that you are stuck, look around at what alternative routes being stuck makes apparent to you. Creativity is fueled by constraint. No matter how stuck you feel, always remember I’m just a puppet and I have literally won a court case.
What are the principles and values that you believe are important to live by? | Eating, breathing and pooing. If you leave one of those out you will die.
What are the critical skills that you have used and worked on improving, in attaining your success? | Playing to your strengths. As a puppet I am really good at asking uncomfortable questions, because the only thing worse than being nailed by a puppet is getting angry at one. Existing and not existing has advantages that human beings don’t. If you play to the one thing that makes you exceptional nobody can touch you.
What is your biggest weakness? | I’m made out of latex. I melt in the sun.
Can you share a time in which you either doubted yourself the most or had great fears, yet faced up to them and conquered them? | I doubt myself all the time. I’m a puppet! I literally can’t do anything unless someone else sticks their hand inside of me. But focusing on your doubts is not how to succeed. Focus on what you can do. Now I’m a double EMMY nominated, award winning, globally recognised puppet who has had numerous TV, radio and print media spots, and gets called by actual experts for my opinion. I even wrote an award winning book. The time I doubted myself most was when I was lost in France by an airline. But social media saved me. Book me and maybe I’ll tell you about it.
What do you want to achieve next and what’s in the way? | I want to take my conversation on race and South Africa to the world. Translating it to a global audience is working incredibly well. Like all things though, it just takes time to make as accessible as I would like it to be.