Article by 10010
Stand-up comedy in Bulawayo has come a long way. In the past filling a room with more than 50 people was a stretch; but not anymore. However the audience always leave the venue with loads of grievances about the show they just sat through. I could fill a phonebook (yes those old giant things) with complaints that have been aired by the Bulawayo stand-up comedy audience, myself included. But that’s not why I am taking the time to write this article. Local comedian Dumisani Hubert Ndlovu is set to present MaForty’s Road to 30 comedy show on the 23 of June. As such I saw it fit to weigh in on how good he is.
There are several stand-up comedy acts in the city, most of them are affiliated to the Umahlekisa Comedy Club stable. Dumisani who uses the moniker MaForty is an unaffiliated act. To date he has been MC to an assortment of functions, weddings and parties, and as a result he decided to attempt stand-up comedy. He debuted his first stand-up comedy act with “ZIMASSET: 2 million Jokes” and followed it up with “1000 laughs & 1000 thoughts” comedy shows. Anyone who knows MaForty will assure you that the man is funny. I don’t agree at all. The truth of it is that MaForty is HILARIUS. Don’t get me wrong, I mean that MaForty as a person is funny and easily makes those around him laugh. However his stand-up performance is different from what the Bulawayo crowd is used to. In my opinion, he is one of the top comics around, then again the list is not long.
For me the best comic in Bulawayo is easily Clive Chigubu simply because he is the most theatrical comedy act in Zimbabwe. When you go to watch him you feel his presence, beyond feeling it or hearing it -you SEE it. That’s very important in a performer. Back to MaForty; he is not the best and he is nowhere near the worst. He has a lot of quality, a good stage presence and very good delivery of jokes. Dumisani also enjoys making fun of himself in his shows and when he tells his jokes from his past he becomes very relatable to the audience. He is a must watch for every stand-up comedy fan and here is why…
MaForty has a keen eye on social satire and easily picks out what people can laugh to and how to make the laugh. He makes short work of the huge task of making a large crowd laugh. A notable arrow in his quiver is that he has a brand of humour that I like to label as intelligent humour. It’s not your everyday humour that any Jack or Jill can crack to his friends. The audience can tell that there has been serious thought put into coming up with his jokes (however I doubt the jokes are overthought; its comedy not politics). This comes as a great relief as surely the Bulawayo audience if fed up with regurgitated jokes and those horrid WhatsApp jokes that are only funny when you read them yourself. I enjoy that Dumisani does not do this and I do not expect his to do so. The audience should expect to hear fresh jokes, fresh satire on current affairs which I am sure he will deliver. The only repetition to expect for MaForty come 23 June is his introduction about how his name “is so nice you gotta say it twice, MaFortyForty,” (I hope he does it so I don’t look like a fool when he doesn’t).
What has lacked in most of the stand-up comedy acts in the city is the common sense to understand that being obscene & vulgar does not equate to being funny. MaForty understands this. When I saw him perform I expected him to curse and swear at the audience just as the comedy audience has come to expect from the other comics. But nooooo he flipped the script. His language was cleaner than that of a catholic priest during mass and it was funnier than I expected. It was a happy surprise. Similarly, Dumisani must be applauded for how he trades the tribally divisive issues, he manages to avoid any volatile issues. If he does raise a volatile issue one will be too busy laughing at the joke to realise what has been said. His approach to political humour is also commendable, he shows understanding and exceptional analytical skills.
The fault I have with Dumi’s stand-up act is sometimes he can’t help telling inside jokes. It is not nice to be on the outside of a joke, it is an awkward feeling. Sometimes he refers to some of his friends and how they are but without a visual aid or when that person isn’t a public figure there isn’t a joke there. What happens in this situation is you begin to find members of the audience (usually his friends) laughing while others look confused and lost. However the saving grace is that MaForty can paint a vivid picture with his words so his descriptions consequently lead to laughter.
In some instances I felt as though MaForty struggles with managing his time and consequently he ends up trying to drag the punch line of the joke. Any comedian will tell you that good timing often is the difference between a good joke and a bad one. Time management is an aspect of his presentation that needs work.
While partnering with other comedians is a good way of giving the audience more value for their money, I hope that this time he chooses a better running mate. For the “ZIMASSET: 2 Million Jokes” show, that “drunk” with pointy hair left a large portion of the audience with a bitter taste. A one man show isn’t a bad way to go either. A level of professionalism is required if stand-up comedy is to be taken seriously in the arts industry. Fortunately this supposed “drunk” is said to have cleaned up his act.
A wise person would set aside the date to make sure they don’t miss out on what is sure to be a night of laughter with MaForty. The main reason why Dumisani is worth taking the tie to watch his stand-up comedy is because he is a better class of comedian than what we normally experience in Bulawayo. Therefore it only makes sense to set aside Friday the 23rd of June to go watch him; I am.