Comedian Churchill, what sets him apart?

Kenyan comedian Daniel Ndambuki “Churchill” Photo: Courtesy

Last weekend, Churchill hosted one of the biggest comedy concerts at Galaxy Resort, Kitengela, an event that attracted more than 3,000 fans.

The venue has never experienced such a treat, neither has the Kajiado region; and when Churchill got down to work, he didn’t disappoint.

With more than 15 comedians joining him and taking the stage one after the other the show lived up to its buzz and went on till the wee hours of Saturday morning with fans still asking for more.

“We have hosted many shows in many regions before but the Galaxy Resort event was really exceptional. It really stood out as one of the best shows I have experienced in my long acting career,” Churchill told Pulse.

“The fans enjoyed themselves. And the comedians had a great time,” he added. Churchill emerged from a crop of Kenyan comedians to whom wit was irresistible. Starting out at the all-time hit comedy shows Redykyulass and Red Kona alongside other iconic Kenyan comedians among them Walter “Nyambane” Mong’are, Anthony Njuguna, Peter “Kajairo” Kaimenyi, John “KJ” Kiarie and Maurice “Mdomo Baggy” Otieno, Churchill literally sole-handedly took the comedy industry in Kenya to the next level.

When the aforementioned popular comedians faded away and others completely gave up on comedy, the multi-award winning 39-year-old comic reinvented himself and found meaningful purpose for Kenyan comedy. Churchill Show, arguably the most popular TV show in Kenya right now, has graced our screens for years now, with Churchill himself helping groom a lot of young talents and giving them a platform to flourish and showcase their wit.

It was at Churchill Show that millions of people came to know comedians such as the effervescent Eric Omondi, Professor Hamo,MC Jessy, Owago Onyiro, Sleepy David, Chipukeezy, YY, David the Student, Teacher Wanjiku, Jemutai, Eddie Butita and MCA Tricky among others. This is a crop of young comedians, who all found their footing at the show thanks to Ndambuki.

Although some of these young talents have since left the show to pursue individual interests, Churchill Show continues to provide that much needed platform for talented young comics, who would otherwise have ended up ‘sleeping’ on their talents.

However, an unfortunate occurrence happened a few weeks ago, when one of the show’s episodes was midway pulled off the air on moral basis.

The awkward scenario opened up a whole new debate regarding the show’s lifeline on our screens. Some quarters argued that it was time Churchill Show folded up, while others were of the opinion that Churchill, and his comedians at the show, were no longer “funny”, thus, calling for change.

But the lurking question has been; is there any other Kenyan comedian who is able to do what Churchill has been doing for the country’s comedy industry? Do we have another able personality to stand in the gap in Churchill’s absence?

A few years ago, Eric Omondi sprinted from Churchill’s fold to launch his solo comedy shows titled Somewhere In Africa and Hawayu.

Bolted out

This was after being on the show for about seven years. The show didn’t see two moons. It flopped so terribly, and the comic had to swallow his pride and bolt back to Churchill Show. He eventually left and launched the Eric Omondi Untamed show. But that has been nothing to rival where it all started – Churchill Show.

Following on Eric’s footsteps was youngster Chipukeezy. At the moment when his star shone the brightest at Churchill Show, his talent was noticed and he was snapped by Kiss FM, where he ended up being a co-host in the breakfast show.

However, he eventually left the radio station and Churchill Show to pursue a solo career in comedy. His first project was a show which had a bigger vision dubbed East Africa’s Comedy Tuesday.

The show’s debut episode was held in April last year, as Chipukeezy hosted an awesome array of comedians gathered from across the East African region.

Since the Redykyulass and Red Kona era, no other Kenyan comedian has shown their precise mettle that they can launched a comedy show that would stand the test of time. And if at all that time is nigh for Churchill to call it a day, who would stand in that gap to fill the shoes he would leave behind?

“Right now we don’t have somebody who can fill Churchill’s shoes if he was to hang the boots today, although we don’t want him to. He is like a parent who keeps on giving birth,” says Eric Omondi.

No replacement

He adds that, Churchill, being his “father” in comedy has done a lot of things which could not be attainable by any other Kenyan comedian at this era. However, Eric has a different outlook on the whole issue.

“Churchill’s era is different from Redykyulass’s and not even him could try to match what Redykyulass achieved because the two lived in different eras. It’s the same with us today. Churchill Show is different from what we would want for the growing generation of young comedy lovers. That’s why I am saying it could e difficult to fill his shoes,” he says.

John Kyalo is a Kenyan TV and movie producer, and fan of local comedy. Like many other people, he feels like Churchill has played his part but like Eric, he is of the opinion that Kenya doesn’t have a comedian who is able to successfully fill Churchill’s shoes, if he was to retire today.

“We do have very talented comedians in Kenya like MC Jessy, Jalang’o, Professor Hamo and Eric Omondi, but they cannot do what Churchill has done for our industry. They can’t sustain the demand the way Churchill has. Apart from the shows, Churchill has been such a great mentor to many of these talents but it’s going to take much more than what’s available currently,” he says.

On his side, Churchill says that he is at the “self actualisation” stage and that his job right now is to ensure that more talents are groomed and endorsed.

“It has never been a one man thing. I have been always behind the scenes, where I don’t even do a lot. I have a strong team of 70 people behind me. For instance, it could be impossible if I was told to make people laugh for one month. Comedy is not like a political rally where you just pass the microphone to the next person ,” he says.

Churchill says that he has since become an institution with a primary aim of ensuring that there is continuity in the industry.

He says: “Churchill grooms new talent every day and that’s why I am now an institution. That’s why there is Kids Festival and we will be starting Churchill Academies across the country next year and you can clearly see that’s beyond me as an individual. On who would succeed me, that is not for me to decide. We have an institution and that’s the difference.”