Comedy is an old profession. Even monarchs of old had court jesters to entertain. Today, comedy has evolved to a fully-fledged business with sold out arenas filled with people ready to have a laugh. If the number of comedy teams in the country is anything to go by comedy seems to be something many Ugandans consider no laughing matter.
While the jury is still out on which is the most popular comedy group it is clear that all the comedy groups in the city have their devoted audiences.
Want to join in the fun? Check out these groups:
Amarula Family is one of the oldest comedy groups having been around for 12 years. They gained notoriety for their harsh imitations of public figures and skits that involve elaborate costumes leaving their audiences in stitches. They perform on Fridays at De Posh Bar in Kabalagala for 10,000 UGX and on Tuesdays at Wallet Pub in Kabusu for 5000 UGX. There are always updates on these, and all of their shows, on their Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarula-Family/133710740073728
Fun Factory. Unlike many of the other comedy groups in the city, this group’s name pretty much says what they do. They are a troupe of 15 that has been together since 2010. They do 52 unique performances a year. Theirs was a tumultuous start as they broke away from Theater factory (all but one left). Two years later they are still going strong. Their shows are on Thursday Night, 7:30pm at The Plaza Theatre on Jinja Road, opposite KCB Bank. From the 4th of October, they are making a move to the National Theater. Entrance fee for their shows is, and will remain at 10,000 UGX.
As loyal Ugandans, they have planned two big shows on 4th and 5th October to celebrate ‘50years of madness’, says Hannington Bugingo, a member of the group. The fee for this do will be 20,000 UGX.
In addition to their live shows, they have a shorter edited version of their performances called ‘U Turn’ airing every Monday night at 7.30pm on NTV. Their performances are packaged to suit all audiences.
Punked Bunch. Relatively new on the scene, having started in February 2011, this group of five has received enormous welcome from their audience. Dickens Perv, comedy is no stranger to unusual names; a group member believes this is because of their new style and broad humour. They put up a free show every Tuesday at Virgin Island. More details can be found on their facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/punked.bunch.
Crackers. The Crackers, the self ordained ‘kings of comedy’, started out at Effendy’s restaurant but were over whelmed by the crowd and had to move to the more spacious La Bonita theater. On a good night they can seat about 800 people. No easy feat. Ssebakigye Emmanuel, a member of the group, says the Crackers differ from other groups in that they mainly do stand-up comedy. The jokes are in both Lugandan and English to cater to their diverse audience. Daniel Omara one of the comedians, believes that comedy can be built into a worthwhile career.
“I got into comedy because I felt I could be among the best at it, and use my position to change the world for the better. Same reason I’m venturing into acting and script writing (my day jobs) and eventually TV and Film production. I want to be part of the change, so I’m starting the process,” he says.
Crackers shows are every Wednesday at 7pm for UGX 15,000 and UGX 25,000 at theater La Bonita. http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Crackerz-Mic-Check-Comedy-Club/150053465109190
Even as this may seem like a highly competitive business, there is no rivalry. Kuddu Isaac, of Fun Factory, mentions that there is a lot of talent from other groups including Theater Factory, Punked Bunch and Akandoli Ndoli, a Lugandan speaking stand up and skits group with seasoned members like Abbey Mukibi and Kato Lubwama.
“As comedians we work together, not against each other. We are trying to advance comedy in Uganda. Everyone brings something different to the table,” he says. This explains why a troupe of more than 10 each garners their own fans. “We are not building the Tower of Babel,” he concludes.