As I sit on my desk having narrowly escaped a tricky situation with my health over the Christmas holiday, I take time to take stock over what has transpired in my life in the last five or so years, capturing a couple of things that happened along the way that shaped and helped me in my journey as a comedian.
By Carl Joshua Ncube
I always say to my friends that my life is an open book because everything that has happened to me makes me better, good and bad. When it is good I celebrate and when it is bad I celebrate more, because success does not come dripping on a silver spoon or on a walkway paved with gold.
Here are just a couple of stories out of hundreds more of times I remember in my journey as an aspiring comedian. The journey is certainly not over and there will be more stories to tell.
When I was working on Carl Joshua Ncube’s Big Announcement in 2010, I had only two pairs of jeans left in my wardrobe. They were torn and I decided to join them together, using the pieces from one pair of trousers as patches on the other. I then had one pair of jeans left and that is what I was wearing when I performed my first one-man-show.
I had no money, but I had a dream. I had no idea how to reach that destination but one thing I knew for sure was that it was Nelsy Ncube whom I wanted to get married to.
Even with one pair of jeans left in my wardrobe and US$2 000 to my name, yes US$2 000 in debt — she decided to say yes to my proposal. If God doesn’t exist then I don’t know who does.
When we took this picture (bottom right) in 2009 we were homeless in Botswana. I approached a friend who was running a company in Gaborone with a request to use his office between 6pm and 6am when they were closed and I convinced him that their property would not need any security in the evening since we would be occupying the premises.
Another friend chipped in and allowed us to use her apartment during the day so we could sleep. In return we promised we would clean her apartment and even cook food for her, then we would leave when she came home from work. We did this until we managed to raise enough money to get our own place.
I told my colleagues to look at their shadows and remember these days because they would never be the same after this experience. Sad situations never remain so, the only way is up.
When I performed for the first time in South Africa at the Parkers Comedy and Jive, I was with Nelsy Ncube and Rufaro Rutherford Dhliwayo. We only had US$150 with us and Fungai Tichawangana had given us US$50 when we left Zimbabwe.
After the performance, the person who was hosting us at his house in South Africa told us that he would no longer accommodate us that night because he forgot to tell us that there were guests visiting him from outside town. I still had two more performances to do in South Africa and had no accommodation. However, somehow God intervened and we ended up getting more shows in South Africa for close to a year.
When I was in South Africa performing at various gigs, we lived in Northriding in an apartment that had nothing but blown-up mattresses.
I had three T-shirts left in my wardrobe and couldn’t afford even a haircut because all my money was used to pay rent and food. It was always important that I got to all my gigs on time and worked hard on my craft ignoring my situation.
In a huge way I am glad I had the support of the most amazing wife, Nelsy Ncube who was just my girlfriend at the time and one of my best friends, Rufaro Rutherford who made sure I kept my focus. They also made me remember that what I was doing had nothing to do with me but had more to do with every other comedian in Zimbabwe.
I am glad I listened to them and this is evidenced by the achievements of the Zimbabwe Stand Up Comedy today.
Excerpts from stand up comedian Carl Joshua Ncube’s biography entitled The 40 Days that Changed Me and Other Random Stuff. The biography which will be out in August will be available on audio book and eBook.