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Comedians take stand-up comedy to new heights

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Comedians take stand-up comedy to new heights

Story by Farai Gwaze

Zimbabwe’s comedy scene is getting hotter than ever, with a fresh wave of stand-up comedians taking to the stage.

Stand-up comedy, once a niche entertainment, is now attracting bigger audiences and fostering a new generation of entertainers.

It has been a long journey of determination which started way back in the 90s.

Stand-up comedian, Doc Vikela said, “The history goes back to Edgar Langaveldt setting the tone in 1997 creating the first stand-up comedy post-independence. After that, Victor Mavedzenge and Michael Kudakwashe came in as guests and after that, there was a performance gap.

“Then Carl Joshua Ncube hit the stage 2008-9 and it was like a whirlwind that no one saw coming. Shortly after him, was the likes of myself, Simba the Comic King, Clive Chigubu the late and Ntando VanMoyo. Clive and Ntando were in Bulawayo while myself and Simba were in Harare. The first comedy club was then set up in 2010, Simuka Comedy Club and that was to ensure we had a breeding ground for new talent.”

Technology has also played a role in the evolution of stand-up comedy with skits and short videos becoming popular on social media.

“We started doing skits back in 2014 after completing film school with the likes of Roland also known as Boss Kedha. Over the years, a lot of people have found a way to make a living from skits, some even opening companies, and this contributes to the GDP of our country, it’s money that may not be calculated in it, but it is there,” said a stand-up comedian, Bhutisi.

But Zimbabwean stand-up isn’t just about laughs. Comedians also use their platform to address social issues.

Doc Vikela said, “Imagine if you may look at how good it has been that we have got a cholera pandemic and then a comedian goes on stage and jokes about cholera, not saying that cholera is funny but saying guys, we are our downfall. Why do you not wash your hands, you do your thing then after without washing your hands you’re saying, mazondo arikunaka at a council bar. When you do that, you can find people rolling and laughing and it’s people watching stand-up for the 1st time.”

Doc Vikela and Bhutisi are so confident about the potential of the industry with the duo set to embark on a national tour dubbed “Comedy Junta,” which will start in Harare and take them to Triangle, Mutare, Bulawayo, and Masvingo.