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Cotilda, the lone female stand-up comedian

Cotilda during the interview. Photo by Ismail Kezaala

On stage she is the smiley girl who goofs about everything, in real life she is still the smiley girl who goofs about everything. Cotilda, the only lady in The Crackers stand-up comedy outfit is funny even away from the stage. She chatted with Christine Wanjiru Wanjala about her life, making people laugh, Big Brother and a few rumours that have been going around about her.

So Cotilda, who is she?
I am a stand-up comedian. I am city born and raised, but you can’t believe how I have explosive local moments. I like dancing in supermarkets. I enjoy “dry” tea and ground nuts. I am “villagical” like that.

Come on, tell us a little more about yourself.
Ok, my full name is Cotilda Inapo, Cotilda with a ‘C’ not a ‘K’. It is The Crackers and Mic Check that have popularised my name with a ‘K’. I am 24 years old, a Computer Science graduate, though I am not practicing. Still I have skills, so you can bring all your spoilt computers. But if they get worse, well I do not know anything about it. I am also a God fearing lady who won’t miss Sunday service. At campus I was a liturgy secretary. I am an OG of Gayaza High school and Uganda Martyrs SSS, Namugongo.

Is there anything else we need to know, a husband maybe?
No, I am still single.

You must be joking about being single, after all you joke about everything. Speaking of relationships, I believe congratulations are in order?

I don’t know how to put this delicately so I will just say it. I heard you were pregnant?
(Laughs), I am not pregnant. I do not even know where that came from. You see that’s the funny thing about being in the public eye. You do things you are not even aware of. I hope next time I am pregnant I am the first to know. (Tries to keep a straight face then laughs out loud again.)

I hope so too. How did you end up in this public eye anyway?
It’s a crazy story. I have always loved comedy so I used to attend the M-Net search for Uganda’s top stand-up comedian. I had buddies who were trying out. When that ended and a section of the participants formed The Crackers, I would attend their initial shows at Effendy’s where they would ask a member of the audience to come up and crack a joke or two. I went on stage thrice and all three times I made people laugh. They asked me to try my hand at it on a more permanent basis, and well, here I am.

So how is the industry treating you? Do you feel well received being one of the very few women doing stand-up comedy in Uganda?
I am loving every minute because I get to be free and myself on stage. It is fun and a world of opportunities. People are opening up more and more to us as The Crackers and I am happy to be able to make people laugh.

Are there times you feel you are not received well, or jokes that do not work?
Well, the audience judges us female performers a lot harsher than they do men. There are things society expects women not to say. Also, when you make so much fun of the guys, they don’t seem to take it so well.

So what is the hardest audience you ever had?
Hmmm, I will say it was a show we had in Malaba.There was a language barrier as the people were mixed, from Kenya and Uganda. That was by far the hardest group ever. Usually, the hardness of a crowd depends on what they are going through I guess. If they haven’t paid rent, for example, and the landlord is on their case, they may not have such a sense of humour. (laughs)

You seem to laugh a lot in your shows, sometimes even before the audience starts laughing. What’s up with that?
I laugh if something funny pops in my head. I am usually telling something funny so it is definitely in my head and I laugh.

Where do you get your jokes from?
I look at real life situations or what they are then ask myself why. Like if you see two black people with an albino and then you ask why two white people can never have a black child. The way I phrase it is what makes it a joke.

Church leader, computer scientist, you seem to have a pretty serious side. Do people take you seriously?
Unfortunately, hardly ever and I am okay with it since I like making people smile. I don’t mind if you laugh at my expense. But there was this one time I wanted to be taken seriously and nobody did. I was injured in an accident on my way to a family function last year. But the person who took me to the hospital and the hospital staff kept asking me, “Aren’t you Cotilda”, instead of sympathising that I had a huge gash on my arm that was bleeding profusely. When I tried to tell them it hurt, no one took me seriously, and they kept thinking I was exaggerating like a comedian! It was not funny at all.

When you do not have a show, and are not trying someone’s computer in the name of repair, what do you do?
I am on Kampala Road walking around, chilling, calling people for plot. But really for some reason the week just goes. I develop websites as a hobby sort off. I am working on one for The Crackers right now. I also help out at my dad’s construction firm, managing, not mixing the cement. I also have gigs, hosting events. If I am not doing all this I am at home watching Big Brother.

Speaking of Big Brother, what do you think about the Ugandan representatives?
I am rooting for Uganda. I don’t think Kyle and Jannette. It is the alien conditions that cause our contestants not to win. Seriously if they threw in a little load shedding, feed them some ‘mmeere yonna nenkokko’, you would see results. They need some local conditions there for their true characters to come out, like if Flavia threw in a tear gas canister.

Would you go to represent Uganda?
Like the average person, I picture myself in the Big Brother house. I think it is a wonderful opportunity, but right now my career is moving in a particular direction. I do not see myself getting that much time (90 days) to be in the house.

Your career, tell me a bit about this direction it is moving to.
Comedy is going places and we are right in the middle of it. Our stand-up is English, meaning it can cross borders. And as you have seen there are a lot of chances for comedians around Africa. I must say its comedy’s time. We are waiting with our suitcases packed. (Laughs).

What does your family think of this career?
They are supportive. They attend my shows, even when the audience was really small back at Effendys, they would come and actually pay. We are a family of 10, two parents and eight children, so they would fill up several slots. They believe in letting their children pursue their dreams.

Sometimes your language gets a little strong. Don’t you worry that your parents may be watching?
They respect that it is a job. They know that I am a pretty stable person, if it was too much, they ask me about it and I explain why I said what I said.

The crackers had a song in which you had a part. Are you also an upcoming singer?
(Laughs) No I am not. I am a good hip hop dancer, atleast I must have been that in a previous life because I love it.That song was just people having fun. In fact, we may have an album launch where we will charge Shs1,500 for ordinary seats and Shs3,000 for VIP.

So where do you see Cotilda in five years?
I see myself going as far as I can with stand-up comedy, but I am open to other possibilities, in acting, TV presenting, and also travelling. I would love to host my own show on TV.

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