While comedy might not yet be a mature industry in Namibia, a day without laughter is a day wasted and hence the need to laugh at times. With the little exposure it gets, the creative industry has birthed recognisable talent beyond doubt. These are individuals who bring joy in one’s heart and laughter on the lips of another to demonstrate their natural sense of humour and their ability to grasp life and give it with the crack of the tummy.
The small industry has many providers of laughter who do not need to compete but who objectively crack the audience from any walk of life. In the pool of many equally capable, is the rising star Big Mich who takes comedy simply as a funny way of being serious.
He is the guy who recently narrated the story the ‘Nama with a Wambo Attitude’ and won the Last Comic Standing last weekend; beating heavyweights and newbies in the comedy circles.
Growing up in Katutura’s notorious streets of Dolam Location, one has no question that the comedian would have an encyclopedia of comedy in abundance.
Big Mich started his comedy career back in the walls of Khomas High School in 2009 just for fun. After all, it’s just comedy. He said at the time, he also used to be a kwaito dancer because of the heavy street influence and the need to fit in. Little did he know that it was the beginning of greater doors to open. He got his first gig at the Document Warehouse. Because of the lack of support and financial constraints, Big Mich had to leave the jokes to attend to school and work.
April 2016 was his return date and his talent has grown even beyond par and not as anyone would expect from someone coming out of ‘retirement’. “During my time away from the stage, I studied comedy and the business opportunity that my talent can bring me,” said the Big Mich.
He reintroduced himself with a one man show- the ‘Nama with a Wambo Attitude’ where he took the audience to stiches. He says, his surrounding highly influences his style and script.
“I grew up in an environment where kwaito was the thing. There where gangs and many families lost their children to this association. There were plenty of happy moments too. So I take this and draw the picture with a positive and reference of laughter for the audience. I also draw my material from daily things and what the newspapers say.”
“I call it kasie comedy. Many people grew up in Katutura while others grew up in town but have been or heard one thing or two about Katutura. So I bring them the picture that is relatable and besides the negative, we still get to joke about these things and laugh together.”
One thing he says remains central to his content and that he can joke about anytime is the cultural diversity in Namibia. At one of his shows, he joked about the Owambos being the new whites and how the tribe has guaranteed privileges. He jokes about how once one is a Wambo they automatically qualify to be a struggle kid and how that itself is a privilege only for the Owambos.
“There is so much one can draw from the cultural diversity. For example, Damaras are known to the habitual thieves and the way they speak – Omes. There are so many stereotypes attached to every ethnic group and we can still laugh about almost everyone,” said the rising comedian.
Besides the crowds and many who look down on the creatives industry, Big Mich maintains that comedy, just like any profession is a job on its own. “You have to stand up every morning and get material to write. I understand that the industry is not as huge in Namibia and because of this, people take us for granted. They would call you to perform for free under the name of ‘exposure.’ But little do they think about the time and effort one puts in bringing out the best material. It is something one can live off so it is discouraging how people treat those in the creative industry.”
Big Mich, who is also a ‘business engineer’ of Namibia Business Consulting Solutions, says he created his comedy character for survival purposes. “I regard Big Mich as an alter-ego. He is a personality I created to bring me an income. He is the guy I saw a business opportunity in. He is the guy who talks about things I can’t talk about. He does not care to be politically correct. But ultimately, I have been living off this character in me.” The rising star draws his inspiration from already established gurus such as Kevin Hart whom he admires for his hustle, Eddie Griffin who can educate and make the crowd laugh at the same time and Trevor Noah who has an inspiring resume. On the local stage, Slick The Dick and Taap The Guy get the punch lines right in his book.
“Comedy means life to me. It’s is like oxygen for me. Comedy takes me through so many experiences in life and that is why I love it. I thus regard myself at a natural comedian,” said Big Mich. On the growth of the industry, Big Mich called on the corporate industry to recognise their hard work and support the industry. He said there also need to be more platforms that develop and grow comedians. “In Namibia we only have stand-up comedy platform. And, the ‘Last Comic Standing’ is the only award given to comedians. And it is only worth N$5000. So, one can really see the need for more partners to come on board. We also need to educate our comedians and diversify comedy in Namibia. Parallel to the education, we also need to get rid of the therapy of expecting creative to perform for free. They have families to feed. It will not grow us at all.”
Big Mich who has been in the industry professionally for a year now advises those who intend to pursue comedy to do it for the love of the art because time is money. Secondly, “have confidence and believe in yourself.”