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‘Fans should boo vulgar comedians off stage’

PERFECT PILL: Those that have seen him on stage will swear that Dickson Zizinga is a natural at what he does. The comedian and actor, in an interview with Edgar R. Batte, says he is proud to have been mentored by the best.

What milestones would you say you have achieved, thanks to your talent?

The one I am most proud about is fame; having a big name. It is said that if you fail to make a name the good way, then you can try making it the other way. I am thankful to God that I am famous in a good way. You will hardly find 20 people in Kampala, and 10 of them do not know me. Besides that, I am able to fend for my extended family. I drive my own car, which is a big step and I am a landlord. I am with Fun Factory but I have also come up with some personal television projects and I am a brand ambassador of international franchises.

Where did your journey as a comedian start?

Surprisingly, becoming a comedian was never part of my childhood aspirations. I was shy and a mere spectator at Kangulumira Nursery School and Kangulumira Church of Uganda. I was a footballer until I came to Kampala in 1996 when a friend, Rashid Mayengo, implored me to join Christopher Mukiibi & The Theatrikos. I joined in 1997. In 2000, we had a collaborative project called Wabalabye, with Phillip Luswata who spotted me for my unique stage delivery. When he started Theatre Factory in 2003, and was looking for a cast to feature in a play titled Child of a Delegate written by Mary Karooro Okurut, he called me. That was the first time I appeared in a television series. I played the role of a landlord and I pulled it off. Later, I met Richard Tuwangye, Veronica Namanda, Hannington Bugingo, Nina Katamba and we have been comedians since. But even when I took on roles with other groups, I was still loyal to Mukiibi. Even if he called me up today, I would join him on projects. Him and Phillip Luswata are my role models.

For the years you have acted, what feedback have you received from fans?

It has mainly been jokes and simple talk. I have never interfaced with a fan who has told me that I could have pulled off a certain act better. Many keep asking how I manage to consistently be funny and how we come up with the hilarious skits. The fans ask me how I manage to keep a serious face even when I am acting very funny stuff. Any professional actor or actress is supposed to remain in character. Of course I am also human and there are times when my colleagues get tickled, and I also find myself laughing but many times I try so hard not to laugh. In six months, it could happen once.

The comedy landscape in Uganda has had a fair share of criticism for accommodating vulgar, tribalistic and dreary acts, what are your views on the trends?

Whereas some people will say comedy is growing, my observation is it is being killed. We no longer have educative comedy. Theatre Factory or Fun Factory are not the first comedians. Today, we have spoilt comedy. It is supposed to have a script but there is a lot of vulgarity. To many, a good comedian is one who is vulgar and tribalistic. We avoid disrespecting tribes and each other. The dress code is bad. There is no way you will tell me that you have to wear buns in your chest to appear funny or wear knickers on top of trousers. Then, some comedians irk me when they ask for money from fans, and then go on to use offensive language on people who would have given them money. Comedy has a future if sanitised and it should start with the fans. If someone starts vulgar jokes, don’t clap for them but chase them off stage. Good enough, as comedians, we have an association.

Away from the stage, who is Dickson Zizinga?

I am originally a cab driver. Recently, I have been engaged in farming in my home area of Kangulumira-Bugerele but I have been disappointed by locals in the area who have thwarted my efforts. Otherwise, I am a family man and happily married.

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