SETTING THE BAR FOR UGANDAN COMEDY
By Paul Ndiho
Standup comedy is gaining popularity in Africa. Comedians are becoming household names, earning fame, and recognition. Ugandan comedian Kenneth Kimuli — also known as Pablo, is no exception.
Comedians are as funny as ever, and can turn your bad day into a better day with their hilarious jokes.
“When I was born my dad walked into the maternity ward took a look at the baby and asked my mother one question: is this a joke? Here I am a living joke….”
Inspired mainly by American comedians, Kenneth Kimuli, is known as Uganda’s king of comedy. He started doing stand-up in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2009 when won a comedy competition called “Stand up Uganda”, that he rose to fame.
“When I decide to start my comedy called “Pablo live.” It was meant to mentor people that were interested in stand-up comedy, create a platform for them, and let the world know that there is stand-up comedy in Uganda.”
“Pablo”, a professional journalist, turned comedian has a quick wit and unpredictability that makes him a natural entertainer.
“My mom thought I was a miracle worker because every time I would do something she would hold her head and say the son of God. And because my dad thought I was strange, he would read me “The rise and fall of Idi Amin…” as a bedtime story. Imagine all those nightmares.”
Pablo has wooed everyone with his unique African infused brand of comedy and humor, selling out venues across Africa. He’s also a burgeoning actor and musician.
“I tell my comedian friends the future for comedy in Uganda everybody should buy sunglasses because the future is bright.
“Hah aha… I once helped our neighbor who wanted to commit suicide, when he was about to hang himself. I was only 10 I said go ahead I am only waiting for your shoes and the man changed his mind.”
Arthur Rutaro, an independent industry analyst, says the government needs to pay attention to this growing industry.
“I think the government needs to come up and support them. Being a young and emerging industry it’s composed of young people, people below the age of 30 and most of them are doing it on their own. They are pushing themselves, despite the talent that we see in them.
Mr. Rutaro says 15 years ago “comedian” was not a known profession, and in Uganda it is still a bit informal. The hippest comedy nights take place in the backrooms of bars, restaurants, theaters, and makeshift performance spaces.
“To me looking at them standing out and inspiring young people, they are inspiring us. They raise a lot of hope. They bring back hope for the majority of the youth and the young people.
In Uganda, there are few full-time comedy clubs and no real circuit for stand-up comics to perform. But the burgeoning comedy scene in Uganda is exciting and it’s impressive to see how polished Pablo is for someone who has only been doing stand-up for few years. Pablo now believes that comedy is being taken seriously as a career path.