Last week, on a very cold evening in Harare, Stand-up Comedy fanatics gathered just for laughs at the Reps Theatre for young Zimbabwean Comedian Long John. Called ‘The Village Boy’, the show was part of an on-going global tour that includes places like Kenya and Uganda. As we write this, the comedian is readying to take to a stage in Kampala in the latter.
Last week’s show was certainly not your normal live comedy act on the occasional Friday or Thursday night. The audience was quite diverse and included Zimbabwean Comics, The Comic Pastor and Slim K.
Here it mattered not if you believed in Long John’s his well-crafted stories or not.
Long John, whose offstage name is Learnmore Mwanyenyuka would be giving us insight into his rural upbringing with his own brand of Comedy. The warm-up act for the evening was beatboxer Probeatz, who fascinated the audience with his unusual talent, in tow was amateur comedian Patrick Zindoga who is still on the come-up.
The main act, Long John would be on for close to two hours,
I thought as we waited in anticipation.
John walked in and stood squarely on the small and dark stage of the Reps Upstairs Theatre. The comic is a funny person generally.
Let me explain.
At the first look, you see his boyish face, awkwardly tall, gangly slim frame packaged in a slightly oversized suit, topped with snapback hat. Facing the appreciative crowd, he began on his very first line for the evening to chuckles and sighs…
“I love to perform in venues where…well, there is this time when I performed for one person who had managed to attend the show,” he said in mock seriousness.
As the performance went on, it turned into dark self-loathing comedy, flavoured with his rural references and charm; not forgetting, plenty of exaggerations. From ridiculous and animated ‘Mr. Bean’ type of jokes to sarcasm which appealed to the intellects. A good number in the audience had a good laugh at his versatile jokes. It quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to hold it on much longer. I’d have to laugh out loud to how Long John insisted on blowing reality out of proportion.
It was a bit annoying as a first timer to note that most of his jokes were already known by the most ‘faithful’ fans in the crowd. But, I guess that was a good thing for the Comedian who started off back in the days of Simuka Comedy Nights’ Open Mic sessions at the Book Café.
The ‘Village Boy’ from Chimanimani is an enjoyable show which follows the life of a special boy who sees the best in everyone except himself, it shares somewhat exaggerated struggles of being raised by grandparents in a very small village, and its highlights include the relatable major life lessons.