By Sindiso Dube in Bulawayo
When Umahlekisa Comedy Club started their humble journey six years ago, in an industry, which didn’t value stand-up comedy and as the only club housing young and hungry comics many thought the journey was going be a very short joke that will die a natural and frustrated death.
The comedy club was established by Ntandoyenkosi Van Moyo in 2013, with a mission to grow comedy as an art discipline and its fan base has grown into not just a club but a hub and movement, which doesn’t advocate for jesters only but also creates opportunities and platforms for others artists like rappers.
“The club was formed upon realisation of a need for spaces for comedy as well to create competition among local comedians, and it’s been an intriguing movement full of fall outs, disappointments, victory and all this came with great learning and understanding the culture and arts deeper,” Moyo said.
“We have grown in numbers, fan base, performance wise and also we have created platforms outside comedy that have helped many a musicians. All this we have managed to bulldoze our way besides the economic hardships that have crippled the whole industry.”
In the six years of laughs, the club has maintained their culture of hosting a show each and every last Friday of the month in Bulawayo and cities around.
Jesters were shared in venues such as the Rainbow Hotel, the Horizon night club, restaurants and the club started off with performances in bars and restaurants, before moving to several other spots dotted around the city. This year’s anniversary celebrations were held at Hope Centre on Friday night.
To celebrate its half a dozen years of laughs, the club this year has partnered Youth for Innovation Trust (YIT) for a comedy project styled Humour for Social Change, which seeks to promote the use of spoken word and humour to address socio-economic problems faced by young people.
Recently they established Umahlekisa Stokvel Sundays, where they host chill Sunday sessions where fans meet and mingle with personalities and celebrities. The sessions are made more interesting by music, drinks, comic acts and braai.
HO, Zwexy, Marshal Elarndo Maroosh, Keith Nkosi are some of the original Umahlekisa members, with female comedian Miss Dee joining in 2014 to add the female perspective of comedy.
The club has gone on to groom acts such as Mandla the Comedian who went on to win the outstanding comedian award at last year’s Nama awards, Ckanyiso that Guy who is doing well in his space and an actor in Special Class.
The hub has also managed to export talent, in the name of Long John. The regionally recognised comic is now doing big in South Africa, he will be appearing on Showman where he will share stage with Nicholas Goliath and Stella Dlangalala.