The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
WHILE they are used to cracking jokes about even the most unfortunate events in life, stand-up comedians are also finding it hard to squeeze any humour out of Covid-19, a virus they say has left them down and out perhaps for the first time in their careers.
From shows cancelled suddenly and the prospect of illness and even death, local comedians have not found coronavirus a disease to make light of. In an interview with Sunday Life, comedian Nomsa Dee said the coronavirus had left them down and out, as they faced the prospect of living without gigs for a long time.
“It is difficult for us right now because all our gigs have been cancelled and we’re going hungry. We’re living in a world of uncertainty. Things are messed up and the economy was already putting a strain on us but however, as sad as things might seem we also need to loosen up and we can’t always be serious, down and depressed,” she said.
Despite their own problems, Nomsa Dee acknowledged that they needed to get people laughing in the face of the virus or they would fall into a deep hole of depression.
“If we allow the virus to get us down it will make the situation even more sombre than it already is. Right now, we’re broke yes, but we’re writing more and we’re working on our material. This has also given us a lot of material. This thing is hitting us and hitting us badly but even boxers like Manyuchi have been knocked out by corona,” she said.
Fellow comedian Clive Chigubhu said the virus had depressed even comedians, usually regarded as the happiest and most carefree members of the arts community.
“It’s quite a stressful period for us as well because the virus doesn’t care that comedians are not telling jokes. So, like everyone else we need ways of navigating through this period because it can be quite stressful. We have to find a way of surviving through this,” he said.
“Chigubhu said he was now paying more attention to his social media content, with upcoming skits trying to educate people about the virus in a humorous way.
Right now, as comedians I think we need to focus on social media and that is what I’m doing. I’m shooting some skits that will be on Facebook soon and I think that’s the route that we can go as comedians. Social media can never be shut down. I think in the same breath the Government can also come on board because the content that we make is very relatable and we can be a partner in spreading the message about coronavirus. My skits will be aimed at raising awareness about the virus and making people aware of how they can prevent or fight it,” he said.
Umahlekisa founder Ntando Van Moyo said they had tried to approach organisations with the idea of using comedy as a tool for education but had found no takers.
“We have approached a few people and tried to make them understand that comedy can be used in a positive light to try and spread the message about the virus especially in light of the fake news that’s going around. We can help combat that and we have been saying we can be a useful tool even in the rural areas where people don’t have much access to even social media. However, people seem a bit reluctant to embrace that idea,” he said.