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Sqoop – Get Uganda entertainment news, celebrity gossip, videos and photosSqoop – Get Uganda entertainment news, celebrity gossip, videos and photos

Four One One

Dying on stage: Uganda’s stand-up comedy at a glance

Comedian Patrick “Salvador” Idringi (left) with a guest during the premiere of his show in 2022. Photo | File

“I have seen comedians, very top notch comedians, ‘die’ on the stage of Comedy Store,” says Patrick ‘Salvado’ Idringi, arguably Uganda’s most accomplished stand-up comedian.

“[Daniel] Omara does one of the best sets I ever heard in my life, but there were a handful of people laughing [at the Comedy Store],” he adds.

‘Dying’ on stage? Yes. Standup comedians do not ‘kill’ or  ‘die’ like the rest of us do. Instead, they “kill” when they have ‘killed’ their audience with side-splitting laughter onstage. When they fail to connect with their audience, then they say they have “died on stage.”

Recently, more and more comedians are ‘dying’ on stage as Ugandan stand-up comedy hits a nadir point owing to a number of reasons. For one, many Ugandan comedians believe comedy performed in bars has led to the decline of stand-up in Uganda. These bar-accusing comedians largely comprise the jokesters who took part in the MultiChoice Africa comedy competition, Standup Uganda, in 2009.

They argue that performances in bars called for comedians to appeal to the audiences’ lowest common denominator. This meant witty humour was swept aside in favour of burlesque. Consequently, an absurdity replaced the conversationality resident in stand-up comedy. This led to the rise of MC Mariachi, MC Kapale and a farrago of other comics whose focus was on applause lines instead of punch lines.

Beery beginnings

In contrast, stand-up comedy rose above its origins in the 1600s as it was performed in taverns to become a form of improvised entertainment. That was in the United Kingdom (UK). It was in the United States of America (USA), however, where it reached its extant notoriety. Comic lecturers, such as writer Mark Twain, toured the country in the 19th Century. Thereupon, standup comedy began to emerge as populist entertainment in vaudeville in the early decades of the 20th Century.

After this, New York-based clubs like the Comedy Cellar, the Broadway Comedy Club and the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, among others, were also watering holes, which lubricated the comedy boom in the 1980s.

Yet in Uganda, when comedians started performing in bars and stopped performing in theatres, comedy took a backseat as lowbrow comedians took the wheel. Many comedy fans, although, claim that this is untrue as Ugandan comedians, they emphasise, are not funny.

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