With a raw brand of comedy, they are performing to full houses at some of the city’s popular cultural venues, including Alliance Française and the Book Café, and providing a new form of satire for Zimbabweans.
The organiser of a monthly show held in Harare, Samm Farai Monro aka Comrade Fatso, explained to The Zimbabwean that comedy had become necessary to help people deal with issues affecting their lives.
“The use of comedy and humour is very important in Zimbabwe. It allows people to unwind and to laugh at our situations. There is such a range of issues we deal with,” Comrade Fatso says.
The comedians target corrupt politicians and ridicule the ruling elite and their stranglehold on the country. They are not just political though. They push socio-cultural and religious barriers as well.
Some of the comedians have taken interesting routes to where they are today. One such comedian, also one of the few female comedians, goes by the name Blackpearl.
“I was on a poster with Carl Joshua Ncube and I was there as a poet and he the comedian, but a local radio station thought we were both doing stand-up comedy,” she says. The station invited her for a live interview as a comedian and she accepted and has not looked back since.
She feels that stand-up comedy is the fastest growing arts genre in the country. “I wish all the different art forms in Zimbabwe would grow like comedy,” she said. However she feels that comedy is still very much a man’s world.
“The industry is not naturally welcoming to women. For you to be funny, you really have to touch on some sensitive issues and it’s very difficult for women to get into that arena,” she says.
Actor and comedian Michael K attributes the popularity to work done by the artists themselves to bring their work to the people.
Although the audiences are largely on the conservative side, Michael K says people still receive the comedy well because it is mostly social satire.
“We deal with things we encounter every single day. There is comedy in everything in life,” he said. Musician-cum-comedian Ba Shupi says that comedy shows have given him the opportunity to realise a lifelong dream.
“I have been doing comedy since I was a little boy, but I didn’t know where to perform. Now I have the platform to do that,” he says. Promising Bulawayo based comedian Keith Nkosi feels that Harare is leading the way in comedy.
“Comedy in Bulawayo is still young but it’s getting there. We have the artists but the audience is not yet there,” he says.
“Comedy is a growing artform in Zimbabwe and a fantastic way of dealing with key social, political, religious and sexual issues,” adds Comrade Fatso. He notes, though, that there is still a level of self-censorship the country.
“If you are going to criticise the president or talk of the ruling party, the question is what happens after that, but comedians are becoming more and more daring and mentioning names of political parties and people or situations. I think we are definitely seeing growing confidence.”
Q The Bos, who boasts four years of comedy experience, says he has seen crowds grow at comedy shows, and invitations from other countries.Post published in: Arts