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Just for laughs

Updated Friday, June 24th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3
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They say the crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow and in the comedy world the artistes have tomorrow in the minds, writes STEVENS MUENDO.

You have watched (or probably heard of) Dr Who, the BBC epic hilarious drama series. It depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor, who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the Tardis.

Along with a series of companions, he faces a variety of foes while working to save civilizations, help people and right wrongs.

Local comedian Dan Ndambuki aka Churchill

The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, and as the most successful science fiction series of all time, in terms of its overall broadcast ratings, DVD and book sales, iTunes traffic, and illegal downloads.

Well, on a chilly Sunday morning at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Pulse hooks up with one of the Dr Who popular actors, Neil Reidman, a leading British actor also famous for his roles in productions such as Prince of Morocco, Merchant of Venice, Pinocchio, Holby City, Tough Love, The Bill, Holby City, Holby City, Body Story, Casualty, Crimewatch File, Nature Boy, Come Outside and Body Story, Casualty, Crimewatch File, Nature Boy and Come Outside just to mention a few.

Accompanied by his host Sharon Agina, the director of the Pearls of Africa, a Kenyan film (now being filmed in Kenya and Hollywood) and a fellow British actor Kevin Leisle as well as teen star actress Francisca Agina, we head to Serena Hotel where we are joined by filmmaker Alex Konstantaras and fast-rising Kenyan actress Liz Njagah — both starring in the just released comedy film Me, My Wife and Her Guru.

Comic Relief

 â€œHow is the comedy industry in Kenya? Is theatre big here?” Reidman poses; throwing the whole table into a prolonged discussion on how local stand-up comedy is yet to measure to international standards.

Reidman was voted the Best Male Actor at the 9th BFM International Film Festival for his role in Darren in The Birthday in 2007. He was also nominated for the Best Actor award BFM in Win Lose or Draw with a nomination for Best Actor in 2008.

“To bring out the real character in a comedy show, one has to play their role as if they believe in it. That is how you become a good comedy actor,” he notes to a humble nod by the celebrated stars around the lively debate.

From Churchill Live, to the Mnet screened Comedy Club, Me, My Wife and Her Guru the new Comic Central show, as well as the ongoing play 43rd Kenyan Tribe, the stars debated opening up to the reality of what international comedy is as compared to the scene across Africa.

Local comedian Eric Omondi

 â€œIf you don’t watch out, the Nigerians will come over and take over your industry as they are becoming very aggressive in selling their act across the world. Just look at real local situations affecting the people and bring them out in a comic way,” Reidman said noting that comedy does not necessarily need to be sophisticated.     

The plot

“That is true. The Me, My Wife and Her Guru  movie, for example is inspired by all the stories related to cults, fake pastors and Finger of God type of Churches, which made headlines in local news last year. It’s a fictional piece and a critical view to today’s Kenyan society,” noted Konstantaras talking about the just released movie featuring seasoned actor Ian Mbugua.

From the old Vioja Mahakamani TV series to Riverwood Kenyan comedy has come a long way, growing from leaps and bounds to the new generation of actors inspired by shows like Fanya and Family, Steve Muturi, Shabbir, and frontrunners Redykyulass.

In fact, comedy is one of the fast growing art in our showbiz industry. Besides the now popular Churchill Live, two TV comedy shows are set to hit local TV in the coming months.

Weekly club comedy nights have received a major following in Nairobi and are being used by amateur comedians as launching pads into the big stage.

“I have had a good and challenging run screening 44 shows (so far) of Churchill Live non stop. I have been looking at the new talents in town and advising them on how they should come up with their own style and character as opposed to copying my style.

That is what Churchill Live wants to do for the actors,” maintains Daniel Ndambuki aka Churchill.

Back in the days we used to act and mimic the likes of Raila, Moi and Kibaki during that Redykyulass era. But we are now bringing these guys live on stage.

We are changing our way of scripting as well as our language to let our comedians attain that international standard,” explains Churchill.

According to Churchill, even though Kenyan comedians have long thrived on mediocre jokes centred on tribal dialects and jokes, time has come to take the industry to the next level.

Intelligent Jokes

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