Local stand-up comedy takes a major leap this October when the first ever nationwide comedy tour kicks off.
The Laff A Lot Comedy Tour will be a four-town comedy series, which is set to elevate stand-up comedy to mainstream level in the country’s entertainment sector.
The tour is an initiative of Comedy for the Nation of Botswana, an association set up in 2009 to promote stand-up comedy in Botswana.
The tour kicks off in Palapye on 22 October at Botsalo Hotel. It will then proceed to Selibe Phikwe on 28 October at Bosele Hotel, followed by Francistown on 29 October at Thapama Lodge. The Grand Finale will be held in Gaborone at Westwood International School on 26 November. Laff A Lot Comedy Tour is sponsored by Yarona FM.
Headlining acts in the tour will be Mod and Rib Cracker, two stand-up comedy pioneers whose names are familiar to many comedy followers.
Mod was the 1st prize comedy winner in the 2008 Presidents’ Day Arts Competitions while Ribcracker was the runner up.
According to Mod, who is also the Secretary General of Comedy for the Nation of Botswana, Laff A Lot Comedy Tour comes as a build up from the President’s Day Arts Competitions, where a need to cultivate the already abundant talent was realized.
Comedy for the Nation of Botswana organizes and coordinates regional competitions for the stand-up comedy category in the annual competition, which attracts an average of 150 amateur comedians annually.
“The main aim really is to spread awareness about stand-up comedy as an alternative form of entertainment that is abundant in Botswana. But the ultimate goal is to help comedians turn their talent in to a livelihood,” says Mod.
Through the tour, Mod says they hope to inspire and motivate comedians to work hard so as to create a professional comedy sector in Botswana.
“Over the years that we have been involved in the President’s Day Arts Competitions, we realized that there is a greater need for comedy shows in the country. There is plenty of talent out there and audiences react positively, but the problem is the competition comes once a year, and there is nothing else to help these comedians hone their skills.”
Mod believes that the Laff A Lot Comedy Tour will, therefore, provide a platform for comedians to gain and perfect the much-needed practical skills.
The Chairman of Comedy for the Nation of Botswana, Ribcracker, adds that although still small, stand-up comedy is currently centered on Gaborone, while there is a market in other locations that also need to be served. He believes that it is only through shows such as the Laff A Lot Comedy Tour that audiences will begin to appreciate the talent that exists in their respective communities. Mod also points out that it is imperative for local comedians to showcase their talent so as to reduce the seeming prevailing dependence on international comics who, he says, disappoint audiences with weak and irrelevant jokes most times.
According to Mod, the government is doing its part to encourage the growth of stand-up comedy in the country, but he believes more can be done.
“There are public events almost every day countrywide, but very few organizers engage comedians to provide entertainment. It’s always conventional forms for entertainment such as traditional dance and choral music, and that needs to change,” says Mod.
He adds that comedy is very effective form of entertainment that can even be used for stress relieve purposes in events such as workshops and conferences.