By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
But since 2010, stand-up comic, Carl Joshua Ncube, has been on a pioneering path to prove that Zimbabweans still value good ole laughter and can get the rest of the world to laugh too. Ncube launched his career in an act titled Big Announcement, undoubtedly one of the largest stand-up comedy events to be held in post-independent Zimbabwe.
At the Big Announcement, Ncube recited a fast-paced succession of humorous stories, short jokes, multi-media presentations and one-liners that kept the approximately 1000 member audience resounding with laughter
Now the trailblazing Zimbabwean stand-up comic is going for the big game. Despite that he is fairly new to the stage, Ncube is set to represent his country at the Stand Up Africa Comedy Experienceto be held at the Emperor’s Palace on November 4 in Johannesburg.
If anything, the show which features some of Africa’s best comedy talent is a stamp of approval that Ncube has come of age. The event will feature Nigeria’s Basketmouth and Klint the Drunk, Daliso Chaponda from Malawi, Uganda’s David Kibuuka, as well as South Africa’s Kagiso Lediga and Ndumiso Lindi.
“This is such an awesome privilege oh my gosh, each hour has its own highlights, meeting awesome names in SA comedy, getting the time to sit down and discuss with them. It’s been very busy though, having a documentary crew following us around and the hectic interview schedule, I keep realizing just how big and significant this event is,” he said in an interview.
“My comedy has certainly been evolving improving and changing since I got to SA; the feedback, tips and guidance I get from the comedians here is priceless. It’s good to grow, a bit painful to bear your faults from scrutiny but it’s the best thing I could have ever done. It’s better to climb from the bottom of a really tall ladder than to be at the top of a very short one.”
The comedian’s story, like the jokes he tells, has been one of twists and turns. In 2002, he was chucked out of the UK where he had illegally emigrated. He attempted to kill himself twice, but the drugs did not work. Reflecting on it today, Carl thinks it was all a joke.
“I was deported from England before finishing my nurse education and I thought it was the end of the world. I made two suicide attempts obviously using the wrong drug only to realise that when I came back home, through the 75 percent local content legislation, I emerged as one of the most influential people in the local creative industry.”
In 2004, Ncube produced Zimbabwe’s first animated feature film titled, Nyami Nyami which attracted a low-key reception. However, it was not a lost opportunity.
“It was too expensive to make an animated film but we had all of this written content of jokes that we wanted to use in animated films so I started doing stand-up comedy instead at different places around Harare,” said Ncube.
His big breakthrough came when he performed alongside popular South African stand-up comedian, Darren “Whackhead” Simpson, at the 7 Arts in Harare.
Ncube said that the aim of his comedic act it to portray a Zimbabwe that is far removed from the often repeated negative portrayal in the international media.
“For a long time, politics has been like a fashion trend in Zimbabwe, but as citizens we’ve our own part to play in influencing a new conversation. I am interested in proving that a comedian can be funny outside the realm of politics. We want to hear about hope and laughter – there’s so much more to Zimbabwe,” he said.
The stand-up comic revealed that part of what he is doing is to re-imagine and reshape the Zimbabwean identity which has undergone serious bashing over the past decade.
“If the arts simply focus on the politics then we’re doing ourselves a great disservice. We need to focus on things about love, hope and other things outside politics. I’m trying to paint a picture of Zimbabwe that our citizens can be proud of,” said Ncube.