Can Malawi’s comedians stand up and get counted? Well maybe and maybe not.
The International Comedy Day July 1 passed as a silent joke, the greatest being that the artists in the sector, comedians, did not know about commemoration of the day.
“I am not aware of the International Comedy Day. When was it?” wondered John Nyanga who is known as Izeki when on stage.
Ntam president Ian Chitsekula said his office is worried that it also missed the comedy day three months after missing the theatre day.
The president added that there is no need to have a separate association saying comedy is part of theatre. On participation of women in comedy, Chitsekula blamed lack of interest from women in comedy.
However, this does not reflect a dead industry of comedy in Malawi. Over the years, the industry has been growing and the country boasts of a number of comedians. The list has artists, Nyanga and Erick Mabedi who trade under the name Izeki ndi Jacob, Chindime ndi Samalani, Mr Jokes, international comedian Daliso Chaponda and many others are still building their profiles.
Nyanga, who is not a member of the National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) under whose umbrella the comedians fall sees a bright future for Malawi comedy.
“We need a mechanism that can introduce people to comedy from a tender age. We need comedy in primary and secondary school curriculums and I believe if properly managed we can have a good crop of comedians in future,” said Nyanga.
Chitsekula and Nyanga also revealed that there is gold in comedy. They said successful comedians can hold shows in public venues the same way musicians and stage plays.
London based Malawian comedian Daliso Chaponda has performed twice in Malawi and has proven the growing popularity of his trade although Malawians are yet to embrace the art fully.
In Zimbabwe the Malawian comedian was a major hit. All his shows were sold out. He attracted a huge audience from very diverse cultural backgrounds and social classes.
“Daliso Chaponda’s Laughrica demonstrated how viable, portable, inexpensive, easily accessible and very entertaining stand-up comedy can be if the art form is mastered proficiently and the audience who will consume it has been well considered,” reads a story in the Zimbabwe Herald.
International Comedy Day was first commemorated 31 years ago and was designated to highlight the uniqueness and value of comedy.