Umbambi ‘Bambino’ Ndiwenyu says one of his favorite past times is making people laugh, and his unerring impersonations and jokes singled him out as a promising talent as far back as his junior school days. Now a maturing local stand-up comedian with an undeniable presence, Umbambi staged his first international act at Pretoria’s State Theatre Rendezvous this past weekend where he received a standing ovation.
“When I started being aware that I always make people around me laugh, I grew more interested in comedy,” he says. From his impersonations of South African comedian ‘Ashifa Shabba’ to his multi lingual jokes, Ndiwenyu honed his comedic muscle after realizing that it is indeed a talent. “As a teenager I didn’t know this was something you could make a living off. I did it for fun, but then I later realized that there is a skill involved in performing jokes.”
Currently managed by Gao Lemmenyane of Amble Promotions, who he describes as monumental to his growth, Umbambi got the grand opportunity to perform at the State Theatre as the only Motswana act. He says being lined up with South African acts was a ‘special moment’ and although nervous, he got on stage with the intention to impress: “Wearing my classic suit and my signature hat, I gave my best fifteen minute set on that stage. Little did I know that my performance would get me a standing ovation. ” That same act resulted in another break for the comedian. Bambino will be performing on the 27th of March at Kedibonye Mulaudzi’s show, after he impressed with his jokes. “He owns a school of comedy and is one of the key people in South Africa’s comedy scene. He was really impressed with my performance and invited me to perform at his show,” said a delighted Ndiwenyu.
The versatile comedian says his background in performance art has grown his style of comedy into a unique act. “I am a very animated comedian. This is due to my love for acting and other creative disciplines. I also keep my material clean, work hard to prepare and I think this makes me quite relatable to all ages and marketable to various platforms,” says Bambino, currently a student at AFDA.
Bambino has shared the stage with renowned comedians such as Anne Kansiime and continues to be part of various local comedy events like Soul Food Comedy Show. He has stretched his talent beyond just comedyÔÇöalso being a dancer, actor, poet and continues to make an impressive mark in these platforms.
He says Botswana’s comedy industry is steadily growing because the comedians have been working together to build an audience: “A lot of comedians are working together to create a following for comedy, at the same time sharpening their craft. Regular shows keep us on our toes and the support we have been getting proves that we are showing initiative in growing this industry as local comedians.”
In the next few years, Bambino sees himself breaking more borders and touring different cities. “I really aspire to be an international comedian and an actor with a sitcom on TV. My dream is to start up the first school of comedy in Botswana.”