Many doubt it can be a long-term career.
Like other performing arts, comedy is a popular form of entertainment, but many doubt it can be a long-term career. Can someone really make a living from making people laugh? This was just part of a recent conversation between 13-year-old Teta, who aspires to be a comedian, and Arthur Nkusi - a renowned journalist and professional comedian also known as Rutura. Ni Nyampinga brought them together to learn from and inspire one another. Read an extract of their conversation and find out why being funny has a bright future.
TETA: When did you discover you were a comedian?
ARTHUR: (Pensive) Back in high school, we wanted to run a campaign for a friend to be a student representative, so I volunteered to do some sketches. I performed in class after class, and the students loved it. When I graduated from high school, my friends and I started the “Comedy Knights” group, which organises comedy shows. Teta, how about you?
TETA: Well, it started back in primary school in grade 3. At the end of the term (when students received reports), the teachers asked us to prepare performances for our parents and they asked me to create funny sketches. I rehearsed with others, and once on stage people laughed, and the words were really flowing!
ARTHUR: And I bet the words faced no speed humps! I too started back at school. Even when people ask me how to start, I always tell them to start at school because there you have your colleagues’ support.
TETA: How do you feel when you are cracking jokes?
ARTHUR: I feel so good when I make people laugh. People say that laughing boosts life, but what do comedians gain from it?
TETA: They are thrilled! I also get exhilarated when I make people happy. It increases my self- confidence, and it helps build my name.
ARTHUR: See! When you are a comedian, you build your name. A day will come, and you will be seen as a role model.
TETA: (Laughing) Really!? But I’d love to know the challenges in this profession.
ARTHUR: Some people don’t know that it’s OK to repeat a joke you heard somewhere. When you do it, they say you are not funny. Sometimes I run out of jokes too. In addition, comedians are still few, and the comedy audience is huge. Another challenge is, we don’t have professional event managers for our shows. We do everything ourselves, but this motivates us somehow. You can’t always have someone to hold your hand.
TETA: On my side, the challenge is finding a way to practice. I can’t just approach the school headmaster to ask for sound instruments to do a comedy show by myself. They may not take me seriously because I am a child. Another challenge is finding an older person who can advise me like you are today.
ARTHUR: I had the same challenge back in high school. The only solution is working with others. When you want to rush, you walk alone, but when you want to go far, you walk alongside others. If you are feeling shy about approaching the school authorities, your colleagues will encourage you. Positivity is a priority in comedy.
TETA: What do you do when you crack a joke and people don’t laugh?
ARTHUR: Sometimes you try to make someone laugh, but they might be dealing with some personal issues, and they don’t laugh. At that moment, don’t rush to the next joke. You ask them what was not funny. When you ask, that’s when they relax and start laughing.
TETA: What makes you go back on stage the next day?
ARTHUR: You have to go back there because you are committed to doing that. You have to go back there until they accept you as a great comedian.
TETA: What did your parents say when you first broke into the comedy realm?
ARTHUR: My father helped me get into comedy and supported us to start “Comedy Knights”. At home, we are all artists. So it was not difficult at all because they supported me. Well, does your family help you?
TETA: Thank you so much, this conversation has inspired me so much!
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