Comedian MCA Tricky is without a doubt one of the funniest people in Kenya. The 25-year-old comedian whose real name is Paul Kimani Njoroge, opens up about his former life as a street boy and his journey to stardom.
Why the name MCA?
It stands for Member of Chokora’s Assembly – where I once belonged as a street child. My signature style on the stage is a baggy grey coat, red shirt and a three quarter navy blue trouser.
My persona revolves around portraying the life and stories of Nairobi street boys. I put a funny twist to my street experience to entertain and educate my fans on what it really feels like to be out on the streets.
You had a bright future in school why did you quit and join the harsh street life?
The last born in a family of three, I was born to a humble family in Mombasa’s Makindu where poverty is so loud. I was enrolled at Ikungu Primary School in Makindu, Mombasa County but upon completing Class Eight in 2004, I did not have money to join secondary school. I was only 12 so I could not get a job.
My peers convinced me to accompany them to Nairobi in search of greener pastures without my parent’s knowledge. The fact that I was idle, frustrated and needed to survive, I heeded to their plea only to realise that life in Nairobi was more difficult than I imagined. This drove me to the streets.
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For a while, I stayed in Good Samaritans’ homes, hopping from one house to another. Eventually though, they got tired of hosting me and I was forced to taste the unforgiving life on the streets of Nairobi’s Saika Estate along Kangundo Road in Nairobi for three years.
What happened next?
I started working as an errand boy ferrying vegetables among other goodies to and from Gikomba market. That was the moment I came face to face with some of the meanest and angry people in Nairobi.
With time the innocent boy from Makindu gradually became someone else. I sniffed glue, smoked bang and got involved in crimes such as pick-pocketing and mugging. I did all these to survive.
What was your turning point?
After years of living dangerously on the streets, I had to take a different path. I joined the Barikiwa Set Book Group which helped in nurturing my talent as a comedian.
How did you make your way to Churchill Show?
Some friends and members of the group persuaded me and I decided to try my luck. I went for an audition at Carnivore grounds and the moment I got in I met Prof Hammo who, apart from being my role model, was very friendly to me.
He encouraged me to follow my heart’s yearnings and I took his advice.
What was the audience’s first reaction upon being called on stage?
For a moment, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them since mine was a different style of comedy that revolved around my life story.
For the first few minutes, they took pity on me judging by their reactions, but with time I could hear them roaring in laughter. I knew this was the beginning of good things to come.
Do you write your own routines?
My routines are spontaneous - based on things that I have been through in life, including life observations among the less privileged where I was part of.
I use that character so people can stop overlooking the less fortunate and change their perception of street kids. Besides, no one wakes up and decides to be a chokara. You just sink into it like a bad habit; it can happen to anyone.
What happens if the audience don’t laugh?
Everyone has sets that don’t go well. The first few times, it feels really bad. But despite this I have learnt to live with it, being the hard-core type.
Have you encountered mean-spirited hecklers during your shows and, if so, how do you deal with them?
Most people come to a comedy show to enjoy rather than destroy it from the inside.
More often than not, if someone is yelling things during a show, that person is drunk and doesn’t realise how loud they are while talking to a friend or perhaps they are just vocally enjoying the show and don’t understand that their action is disruptive.
Besides, real, mean-spirited hecklers are not as common as people think. In such cases, you can usually just politely ask the offender to be a little quieter for the sake of the show.
Do you think hecklers help the show?
Not more than I would be helping my production by shouting. The person onstage generally has a pretty good idea of how the show is supposed to go. “Speak when spoken to,” is a good rule for audience members.
You make a living out of comedy?
Yes, comedy pays well and my brand demands a six figure performance fee.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Becoming a mentor to the less privileged, including many other aspiring comedians.
What are some of the life lessons you have learnt so far?
That life is a battlefield and not a playing ground. We are here for a short time hence the need to strive and make the best of it.