Following the success of his one-man show, Love and Laughter, which the media acclaimed as a sterling performance where comedy and poetry were perfectly married ; award winning poet and comedian Andrew Manyika returns to Harare on November 25th & 26th with his much anticipated stand-up comedy and poetry special – HOMECOMING!
We had a great chat with him to gain more insight about the poet/comedian, and here is what he had to say about his craft and his upcoming show!
1. What inspired you to merge Poetry and Comedy?
Well, I think a more approprite question is what inspires us to split them. While we tend to see comics as the always-on performer churning out a joke-a-minute; and poets as the reflective solitary types, the truth is we all laugh and cry. So my view of poetry and comedy are that they’re just different routes to the same goal, which is storytelling; and that’s all I’m really trying to do. That’s what inspired the tagline on my logo “Creating Memories.Capturing Moments”. And if that journey takes me to the humourous or the profound, I’ll go. (Oh, and there’s an old Greek guy named Aristophanes, but that’s another story). Now that we’ve established that I don’t know how to give a short answer to a question, what’s the next one?
2. Why did you decide to go with the name ‘HomeComing’?
The show’s named HomeComing for two reasons; firstly, it’s an idea everyone can relate to. Whether you’re coming home from a day at the office, a term at school, or another country; there are things that are unique to the place you’re returning to and the places you’re coming from. In parts of this show, I’ll be talking about those things so the title was apt. Secondly, as a Zimbabwean who established a performance career in South Africa, putting on a show this big in Zim is a kind of coming home for me.
3. You have performed in South Africa and in Zimbabwe, how different is the audience is these areas respectively?
Let me answer that one like this – there’s a picture currently doing the rounds on social media, of Pogba the Man United player, except it shows him as the character Azwindini from Muvhango because they look similar (and they really do haha). Now a joke like that is funny in SA and Zimbabwe because many people from both countries know both Muvhango and Man-U. So, such similar frames of reference mean we have some shared comedic sensibilities. In SA, comedy is more strongly established, whereas, in Zimbabwe, it’s still very much on the come-up (a very aggressive come-up). Poetry as performance art is a bit more rigid because the poem is the poem, and your delivery counts for more in selling the performance to the audience. The key thing that I’ve seen is that it’s important to understand the nuances of the audience you’re playing to and to make the material work for the room you’re playing. I have been fortunate to be well received in both regards, both in Zim and SA.
4. When did you decide to do this show, how did you come up with the idea and what should the audience expect from you/it?
The show has been an idea for years now, but when I saw Cassper’s Fill Up The dome last year I was like, “Talent is not a cushion, stop sitting on it”, so I started to forge the plan and HomeComing is the result. The audience can expect to see themselves in the stories on stage, and the results will vary from funny to profound. The wardrobe will be spectacular and the material will be clean as always. It’s important to me to create an experience you can enjoy with your whole family. We’ll have other artists opening, a poet, a comedian, and an upcoming muso, a pinky, and a brain, and I’m rambling, but you get the picture.
5. How has poetry and comedy influenced your life?
It’s had an interesting impact. I share the dreamer’s disease common to most artists (and owners of selfie-sticks) – when I’m in a beautiful moment part of me is enjoying it, and part of me is thinking “How can I use this in a joke/poem later”? That said, it’s also increased my attention to fine details. Being involved in the industry has opened up opportunities for me to meet and work with some of the biggest names locally and abroad; I’ve shared stages with most major Zimbabwe comics; and some heavy hitters from Mzansi and the globe. The likes of Joshua Bennet; Lebo Mashile; Donovan Goliath; Warsan Shire, TolA$$Mo.
6. Are poetry and comedy your full-time careers or? How do you make a living from this?
They’re full-time passions, and part-time careers. A while ago I met a young man from Washington who said he imagined that everyone should be a poet. That over and above your vocation, whether a plumber or prime minister, it would be an amazing world if poetry wasn’t just something we all did, but something we all were. As for making a living from art, I’ve been setting my mind to understanding the viable business models in a world where only Adele is selling physical units of a commodity one can easily download. Maybe my next poetry project will be a break-up album so I can cash in like she did? I’ll call the lead single “Rolling in the Deep…& I can’t swim”.
7. Tell us about the artists whom you’ll be sharing the stage with?
Glad you asked. Variety was a big consideration from a production planning perspective. Toward that end, I’ll be sharing the stage with:
SoProfound – spoken word artist and Radio personality. We first met a couple of years ago when I was slamming at the House of Hunger in Harare. He’s a poet who has performed at every edition of the Shoko Festival. Since then he’s continued in poetry and even now has a radio show with ZiFM called the LoveLounge.
Nozi Ndlovu – is an upcoming muso, also formerly based in South Africa and now making her mark on the music scene in Zimbabwe.
The MC is going to be unveiled in the run-up to the show, all I can say for now is that we’ve secured a real class act.
8. What message are you trying to send out to your audience with/at this show?
That if you look close enough, there’s a little bit of your life story in everybody. That said, don’t look too closely, you might get punched in the face. Seriously though, if this show has any deeper message, it’s that we can all get together regardless of age, colour, or gender and have a good time on a piece of common ground.
9. Would you consider this show one of your biggest dreams to come true?
Indeed, I would. This is me moving in the direction of my dreams, and it’s really quite a journey.
10. How is this show any different from any show you have ever done in Zimbabwe?
Well, almost every other time I’ve performed, right from my debut at the Bang Bang Comedy Club; through Harare International Festival of the Arts; Shoko Festival and Zimbabwe Comedy Live; I’ve been an artist on another curator’s stage. This time I’m producing, writing, and headlining a show that will run for two nights in a larger venue than I’ve ever played independently. It’s 1 part exhausting, and 3 parts exhilarating. So, I’m shouldering a greater responsibility, but I have greater control over the creative direction of the whole experience and that’s a new challenge that I look forward to tackling.
HOMECOMING ‘A Stand Up Comedy & Poetry’
25 & 26 November, Harare!
Twitter & Instagram @drewmannshow