The art and work of funny at the festival

I braved the second row of David Wasn’t Built in a Day, an autobiographical routine that is showing here at the National Arts Festival. It surveys everything from Kibuuka’s own dyslexia to dating and the outmoded romantic mechanism of the mix tape.

But not only does this statement reflect Kibuuka’s personal and professional etiquette, it also suggests the totality of his endeavour: David Kibuuka lives his comedy. “I’m trying to get my comedy to be the same as my real life,” he says. At first this strikes me as a tad all-consuming, and then Kibuuka proceeds to entertain me for the next half-hour of the interview, stringing together disparate story after story with some thread of tenuous logic.

He starts with an anecdote about his one and only “proper job” at Spur, to his comedy beginnings as a covert sketch writer for TV comedy, The Pure Monate Show. He just can’t help it.

Born in Uganda, Kibuuka immigrated to South African when he was eleven. He followed the conventional straight and narrow as a good student and eager achiever to his matric year as head boy of Krugersdorp High, and then on to Wits where he received an Honours in Insurance and Finance.

Kibuuka’s entrance to the comedy scene was part financial desperation and part “not wanting to do something hard,” he says. The first formal induction was a comedy competition that offered a winning prize of R10 000. “If they were offering R1 000, I probably wouldn’t be a comedian,” he says.

Funny – but I don’t believe him. Even nice guys can suffer from self-deception. Kibuuka also says he’s a sort of outcast at the festival, asserting: “It’s comedy, at the end of the day, it’s not art.” And you’re unlikely to see him on the street promoting his show.

“Do I look like the kind of guy who would hand out fliers?”

While being funny might come easy for Kibuuka, delivering comedy to the masses is something he’s very consciously worked at for past last ten years.

In fact, last night when he stepped into the spotlight, Kibuuka’s first words were, “I’m at work.” They had a tinge of irony and seemed to me like the verbal equivalent of pinching himself; that, with a touch of ‘OK, let’s get down to business’.

For those of us who struggle to remember knock-knock jokes and only think up funny comebacks a day later, comedy is most certainly an art. Regardless of how easily that skill comes for a performer, the work of sharing it requires dedication. Kibuuka really does know all this, he’s already acknowledged: David wasn’t built in a day.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…