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Comedians reap benefits at last


IT’S ONE thing to gripe. It’s quite another to do something profound and see the fruits. Southern Eye Lifestyle zeroes on artistes who are not resting on their laurels and are making fans take notice.

From Left -Long John,  Carl Joshua Ncube, Marshall the General, and Ntando Van Moyo at the Umahlekisa Comedy Night held at Horizon
From Left -Long John, Carl Joshua Ncube, Marshall the General, and Ntando Van Moyo at the Umahlekisa Comedy Night held at Horizon

Admire Kudita
Own correspondent

Umahlekisa Comedy Club

Ntando Van Moyo
Ntando Van Moyo

Started over a year ago by Ntando “van” Moyo, aka the General, the comedy initiative was inaugurated at Jimmy’s Diner corner Robert Mugabe Way and 9th Avenue by the young artist-cum entrepreneur from the townships..
“Jimmy, having lived overseas and being exposed was partial to the idea which was new in town. The payoff for him besides him being a nice guy was that when people attend the show, they would hopefully buy drinks and eats at his place. Soon enough, the place grew smaller as our audience grew.At present, we have members approaching between 100 and 150 who attend our gigs,” Moyo said in an interview with this writer earlier in the year.

Asked about the new home of his mobile club, he said that it had moved to Flame Diner just next door which was a bigger venue.

Gaining clout

Carl Joshua Ncube
Carl Joshua Ncube

Just last night, Ntando hosted peers in the game such as one of Zimbabwe’s most innovative multi-talented individuals the comedian Carl Joshua Ncube alongside Q the Boss (Nqobizitha Mazibisa Dube) who are all Harare-based. Carl has built the comedy industry in Zimbabwe and is leading concerted efforts to monetise the arts.

“I can say that today comedy is putting not only bread, but the eggs too on my family’s table,” he quipped in an interview at the Horizon Club venue of their Thursday night comedy gig. Incidentally, other comedians such as Long John and some from National University of Science and Technology (Nust) took to the platform regaling fans with punch lines that alternatively flew off the handle and bombed out. Some of the jokes were wonderfully delivered and some took too long to get to the punch line.

But Q the Boss has what they call great comedic timing. This is the ability to deliver jokes as timely as and as wittily as one can get away with it.

And that without dragging the story line for too long. As he said after his rapturously received set: “It’s not so much what you say; its how you say it.” The artist draws inspiration from the likes of Steve Harvey, the late Richard Pryor and Bernie Mac. So does comedy pay?

“I can’t divulge the figures bro, but I can tell you that for a gig like this we earn more than South African artists who get paid between R300  and R1 000.”

Q the Boss
Q the Boss

These were the words of Q the Boss in an interview on the sidelines of the show who revealed that he was forced by his dad to drop the Boss part of his name “he still at home with his parents besides working in the family business doing books as an accountant”.

“He said you are not yet a boss!”

Getting paid
With time and local support, his platform can only grow bigger with corporate partnerships. A local design company can donate website design for example to help increase his online presence and purchase the young man a vital piece of online real estate.

Our artists need not seek out charity, but can settle for partnership arrangements with corporates with whom they can barter services. For example, sponsor the design of a web site and get advertising space for your company and get mileage off the traffic visiting Umahlekisa Comedy Club’s site for information titbits. Close to a hundred people saw well healed fans trekking to see Umahlekisa Comedy Club — a hundred people with potential to bring three or four along when the initiative hosts another event.

Those people can potentially give the club an income monthly from the loyal ‘members’ as they pay to attend the shows. It takes time. In the process, Umahlekisa will become a recognisable and bankable intellectual property.

That is how you grow brands. It is much like being a citrus farmer. You need vision, guts and endurance to win that. Much like being an East African long-distance runner as well.

Star billing
For what it is worth, Moyo has built a brand — albeit a cultural one is which is growing in influence. He is a leader of the new school of young artists who refuse to accept the stereotype of the whining and pathetic listless artiste.

Umahlekisa is carving out space  which did not exist prior and it’s a platform he has been sharing with other comics such as Clive Chigubu, Long John, Keith and now Nust students.

Moyo is visionary and if he continues to exploit new media platforms such as Facebook,  Twitter and WhatsApp to cultivate audiences, he will soon be able to milk his cow. With milk, comes cheese.

We give him a 7/10 clarity of vision, drive and work ethic. The three begging are for his punch lines that sometimes take long to hit the sweet spot. He’ll get there.

Maybe, he will need to enlist other writers to deliver jokes that suit his style. It happens in the United States where stand-up comedy really began.

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