Trust Khosa, Assistant News Editor
Comedians in the mainstream industry reckon Zimbabweans needs laughter and humour to ease sorrows in both good and trying times.
So dire is the need for laughter that it has been psychologically recommended as a remedy to heal major setbacks like depression among other troubles.
According to health expert Ryan Barrell, laughter and satire come with health benefits.
“The health benefits of laughing are widely chronicled.
“It releases endorphins, which make us feel happy, as well as other hormones linked with reducing stress, boosting immune response and strengthening social relationships.
“When it comes to mental health, the release of these happy hormones are an excellent short-term relief, while a heightened level of social bonding can lead to longer term feelings of inclusion and the creation of support networks.
Both are key elements in the fight against depression,” writes Barrell.
However, is has been noted that professionalism has raised the appeal of Zim comedy to beyond therapy.
Top comedian Doc Vikela, who recently celebrated his 35th birthday, said a nation short of comedy is as good as dead.
“It feels good that I am celebrating my birthday (yesterday) since I am now 35 years old.
“I’m grateful to God for the talent he gave me and it is the same talent that I am using to cheer up people and even addressing some of the national issues in a satirical manner,” he said.
Born Victor Mpofu in Gutu and raised in Gokwe, Doc Vikela who is famed for his skits mimicking popular figures including the President, continued:
“In my years as comedian, I feel I am doing a lot for the sector and this nation to move forward.
“To be honest, we can’t be an angry nation all the time if we have talented comedians who are good at articulating issues.
“There are some many issues that make people very angry be it in public places like ghettos and kombis but we make them light if we use comedy to find a fun away of sharing these issues.
“If we don’t share this using political satire, we will remain an angry nation which is shot of progress and fun.”
On his appeal of comedy to the corporate world and advise to those who misinterpret their satirical skits when they delve into politics, Doc Vikela said:
“People who don’t understand satire ndivo vari kudzorera nyika kumashure.
“In my case, I have been receiving a lot of feedback from Government departments and other policy makers to endorse their policies or share what people think of them using satire.”
Like most of his peers with multiple endorsement deals, Doc Vikela said professionalism had taken him this far.
“When we talk of professionalism, it has made our skits popular because corporates are attracted by people who has an appeal to them and this can only be measured by how they run their affairs.”
Similar sentiments were shared by comedian Admire “Bhutisi” Kuzhangaira of PO BOX Reloaded.
According to Bhutisi, comedy has become his lifestyle while professionalism has made him eke out a living from his skits.
“Professionalism is an influential step in staying competitive and (being) a person of high standards.
“Personally, it has made me not to settle for less and not to be popular without influence and of course – money.
“I’ve become a voice with an invoice through employing different forms of professionalism,” he said.
Unlike some of his peers who are cashing in on corporate deals, Bhutisi said all was not rosy for them.
“In Zimbabwe, this has become a zero-sum game. I won’t flatter you, corporate appeal is a nightmare but I believe it’s how one plays their game.
“Once you’ve been signed by a company then it will be easy for other companies to do so as well and this have transformed my life in a great one through different endorsements.”
Besides fame, Bhutisi also delivered special advice to aspiring comedians.
“To aspiring comedians; just start from where you are, practice more often, know your technic, be unique, believe in yourself, build your own audience and most importantly know what to say and where to say it.
“To yesteryear comedians, I feel so proud of you guys, you’ve put comedy on the map but in whatever we do make sure we strive to make money out of it, masashandiswa,” he added.
In support of her fellow comrades of skits, comedienne Felistas Murata – better known by her moniker Mai TT – said comedy has helped her to “boss” her way to acclaim.
She underscored the need for professionalism to break barriers.
“Professionalism comes with dedication, integrity and responsibility.
“There are several people who have stepped into comedy but have not necessarily been successful.
“Consistency has played a critical role in my success as an artist. I remain humbled by the grace of God for the doors he has also opened for me in the field.
“I have taken ownership of the role, duties that come with the work, and I have been able to build a name. Promotion, opportunities and repeat business have come through professionalism,” she said.
On her appeal to the corporate world, Mai TT preferred answering H-Metro Entertainment & Lifestyle as follows:
“I will answer this question through the following quotes.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ―H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ―Charles Dickens
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. ―Albert Einstein.”
Mai TT who has achieved a lot through comedy said she was determined to help others.
“We have the duty to provide and support for people who are under privilege.
“We all Zimbabweans, we have to make a difference, and I am inviting everyone to be part and parcel of this process,” she said.
Like most of her peers, Mai TT said it was high they embrace technology and avoid stunted growth.
“My advice is go digital or go home. The world is changing, and we ought to change in a way that makes us relevant.
“No matter how good you are, if you are not embracing technology you are going to stay behind.
“Let us learn technology, let us be innovative and use technology and to our advantage,” advised Mai TT.
Not to be outdone is Madam Boss whose five-year journey on the limelight has brought her both fame and fortune.
Speaking through the husband Ngoni Munetsiwa who is managing her affairs, Team Madam Boss said all was well on course.
“We started posting skits in 2016 and we are grateful because we have gone this far due to professionalism.
“Corporate players want to be associated with somebody who is smart and that is why we are trying by all means to stay away from trouble.
“It is through comedy that we have travelled far and wide doing our work, especially in Europe.
“To would-be comedians, they need to work hard and be original in the way they package their work,” said Munetsiwa.
With most players of his comedy applauding corporate endorsement, Comic Pastor – real name Prosper Ngomashi – said it was high time they focus on one brand.
“In my case, a lot has changed in my life since we started running our affairs in a professional manner.
“However, I urge Zim corporate to copy what is done in other countries like South Africa where you don’t find someone advertising multiple brands.
“In my view point, ukati ku salt uriko, kushuga nekumhiripiri you are there, surely it kills creativity.
“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a choice but we need a situation where one endorsement deal can really change one’s life and not kill their creativity,” he said.
Comic Pastor also advised fellow comedians to go an extra mile and bring some new t the fans.
“We also need to come up with new concepts and avoid imitating others that came before us.
“By so doing, we won’t grow at all but continue to give people an overdose of cheap stuff, which don’t sell,” he added.
Most comedians interviewed by H-Metro Entertainment & Lifestyle noted that professionalism and embracing technology coupled with creativity make one a popular in the genre.
They however noted that household names like the Trevor Noahs and Kansiimes of this world worked for their brands to be where they are today.
With the Covid-19 pandemic taking its toll globally, it has been noted that laughter, which can be generated through comedy, remains a remedy to psychological problems.