The age of the internet has influenced the growth of local comedy in a great way, creating space and opportunities for what had been hidden talents in the country.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Characters like Mukadota, Mutirowafanza and Paraffin, among others that were a hit on the small screen prime time viewing in the 90s, are long gone but new media has ushered in a new generation.
Instead of having to go for auditions to act in some sitcom on the nation’s sole television channel, aspiring jesters have resorted to shooting short skits which they circulate through social media.
However, while some have created names and reaped big, others lost their mojo almost as fast as they gained it.
Names like Uncle Richie of the Zvirikumbofamba Sei fame and Baba Tencen quickly come to mind when we talk of names that either faded into thin air, or are on their way down the drain.
With phones with good cameras now being essentially the only tool needed for one to establish a career, artists’ only headache is how to remain famous and realise profit off their efforts.
Award-winning stand-up comedian who also features on skits, Victor Mpofu, better known as Doc Vikela, said there was need to understand that comedy is serious business, just like any other art.
“Art is not a one-day thing because I started over seven years ago but only began getting the benefits two years ago after consistent hard work,” Doc Vikela told The Standard Style.
“It is not an easy business because it forces you to outgrow your last joke and at the end of the day, one really needs to put in extra work to be taken seriously.”
He attributed the influx of skit comedians to the socio-economic hardships in the country.
“The current economic situation is leading people into coming up with most of these jokes and for one to say they are now a comedian after getting a couple of views online, it may be misleading,” he said.
True to his sentiments, some jokers who ended up famous without intent after their videos got a lot of views were convinced that they could pursue the newly found “talent”.
Accomplished comedian Carl Joshua Ncube also weighed in, saying comics who aired their material for free online needed to understand that there was a difference between what they were doing and actually pursuing a career in comedy.
“There is a difference between posting videos online for people to watch for free and actually hosting a comedy show like I do because the first method is not sustainable.
“This is the reason why most people who post their acts online find it hard to have a transition to the stage and usually that is where their fame is lost because a stage performance follows a trend, which takes years,” he said.
“If one’s video goes viral online, it does not mean they are now a stand-up comedian because the transition may be too hard and could lead to loss of fame,” added Ncube.
While online productions are fast superseding local television content, most of the characters are failing to maintain the influence off the cyber space.
In between the views and likes, however, relevance remains a major goal for the serious players hoping for a career in the industry.