Laughter is medicinal. The comedy Industry in Kenya started off on good footing, from Vitimbi, Vioja Mahakamani, Kivunja Mbavu, The Ridiculous, just to mention but a few. A decade later, the Churchill show breathed some fresh life into the industry, that has seen it evolve into a multimillion entertainment sector with talent and good content served hot.
Comedy makes Kenyans better people. Not only does it amuse and entertain an audience, but it also provides a platform to address societal issues that they relate with and while it exposes the rot in social institutions and political scene, through humor. Upcoming comedians in Kenya have made the most out of Youtube to nurture their talents and grow their brands. Themed on peculiar habits, culture, traditions, and customs of our very own, most of the comedy content is aired in Swahili and English which are official languages in Kenya.
Certain legitimate comedy tastes and styles of comic appreciation now represent an important means for new generations of the culturally privileged to demonstrate their cultural distinction. Some comedy is told best in vernacular to hit closer home, a niche that is rich in content and very contextual but has not been fully exploited in the Kenyan Comedy Industry. Inooro Fm and Inooro TV presenter, Jeff Kuria, King of Kikuyu Radio show hosts, took the liberty to go down that road in a Kikuyu Comedy Show.
With expertise and authority in mainstream media and production and his very own Jeff Kuria TV, he opted to have a comedy program aired in Kikuyu, to give an opportunity to upcoming comedians to entertain and showcase their talent while promoting and uplifting Kikuyu culture, differentiating himself from the rest. Also available on Youtube channel as Wing’aurire Comedy Show, Jeff tapped into the power of media platform that has garnered the show over 56000 subscribers, glued to the content.
“Vernacular comedy is a game-changer. There are so many young talents that could be nurtured through such shows. While the comedy industry is accommodating, there is still so much that needs to be done to grow this niche by all the players including artists, producers and the producers themselves. The growth is progressive and that is encouraging.
“When I visited a friend of mine in the US, I learned that Africans celebrate their culture through comedy, and I thought I could implement the same concept with my people generate by generating content, building an audience and profile Kikuyu comedians and standup comedies,” he noted.
Kenyans talk big about celebrating their culture, but getting financial support from them to make it happen has been the biggest challenge in the comedy Industry. While his comedy show has opened doors for comedians who have made it to the limelight including Kartelo and Coconut Kenya who are popular online comedians, little has been done by investors in the industry to support his commitment towards nurturing young talent.
“I spend around Ksh 300,000 per show. I have been writing proposals to media houses and the Ministry of Culture presenting my case on how investing in vernacular comedy can empower youths, but no one is buying it. Producing a comedy show is demanding because I need a team of creative minds, comedians, marketers, producers as we are ever auditioning and rehearsing to be consistent, and all that needs money.
“Comedy In Kikuyu is not appreciated as much as music is. Marketing has not been easy. Sponsors have not been willing to support us because we are not on mainstream TV channels while Corporates have little faith in vernacular brands. Not getting space on TV has been our biggest challenge,” he said.
Despite Jeff being a big shot in media, and a serial entrepreneur, leveraging on his brand, to get financial support from corporates and government stakeholders has been a struggle. Jeff said that, if one believes in something, he/she should go for it wholeheartedly and never give up. He highlighted that if potential sponsors and partners changed their perception about vernacular comedy, and invested in the niche, Kenya would be a hotbed of talent that everyone would want in