Comedy Knights, Rwanda’s renowned standup comedy group, is back; this time round, it will be performing in smaller spaces, especially bars, on evenings dubbed “Live, Laugh, Lager” in homage to its sponsor SKOL Beer.
These bar shows are a new concept that started off about three months ago in places like Top Chef and Club 514 but sponsorship was still a challenge.
“It wasn’t an easy step, since we didn’t hold the shows we were accustomed to,” explains Joshua Kamirindi, a comedian who has been part of these performances.
“We had halted a weekly show, which was quite a setback. However, after a review of strategy, we are back and doing a better job,” Chris Ivan Mugabo, the manager of Comedy Knights admits.
Talking of strategy, in these evenings, the group features other promising standup acts like Clapton Kibonke, Kefa, Prince, Japhet and 5K Etienne from Day Makers Edutainment, who jointly take the audience through laughter.
To some critics, these bar shows raise a number of questions. For example, is the group growing its art or lowering its grade?
Kamirindi has an answer to that: That only the talented can do meaningful bar shows.
“See, unlike elsewhere, the audience in the bar is largely made up of people who convene to shed off stress, and have a good time.
So capturing their attention is an art that requires real skill,” he says.
According to Kamirindi, this experience has shaped comedians into extreme creative acts, which grows their craft.
Now, with the SKOL partnership, comedians are going all out for the best seeing as there is particular emphasis on talent development.
“Our new partner is with us, right from rehearsals, to the execution of performances. This works wonders on our dedication,” said Mugabo, who sees the deal as proof of sponsors seeing partnership with the creative industry as a viable venture.
Comedy Knights began in 2011, with weekly standup comedy shows. Under renowned comedy acts like Herve Kimenyi, Michael Sengazi and Arthur Nkusi, the group grew and held bigger comedy shows which included Comedy Jam and several one-man shows, resulting in larger audiences, hence sponsors and partners like Mutzig Beer, MTN, and Positive Production.
In March 2018, the group took a break from regular shows to work on itself. This move followed the group’s conclusion of its Com Factory Show contract with Rwanda Television, the national broadcaster, which encompassed a weekly show held and broadcasted for close to a year.
When Nkusi branched off to pursue a solo career, the fear of a setback saw the group take up collaborations.
The group started featuring not only guest performers like Kenya’s Dr Ofweneke and Mamitto, Uganda’s Emma Napoleon, Collins Emeka, Cotilda, Daniel Omara and Germany-based Tanzanian Captain Khalid, but also more aspiring local acts too.
To Mugabo, unlike then, today’s local industry now thrives on the collaboration of established and rising standup comedy acts, Deejays and musicians, who altogether have given the local entertainment scene a great facelift.