Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Batswana humor

(Okay, but is there a comedy scene in the Okavango Delta? I don't know, but this monkey's laughing at someone.)

I'm sure that Botswana has a comedy scene and said comedy scene will be very disappointed when it discovers I've co-opted this blog name. So I decided to do a little research about the comedy scene in Botswana to see what kinds of things make people in Botswana laugh (or say "ha!" in a semi-pitying way and sip their drinks self-consciously, like audiences do here).

Googling "Botswana comedy" brings up 904,000 results! Crap! There goes my whole ironic approach to the possibility of comedy in Southern Africa!

The top hits are a couple of links to articles from AllAfrica.com. An article dated January 2010 had this headline:

Luzboy Returns With Humour in Comedy CD

The article begins: "For someone with a law degree, Gabz FM radio presenter and funny man, Maluza, Luzboy, Losika Seboni fuses humour and facts in a funny yet subtle way that helps him avoid potential lawsuits."

Okay, so to summarize, there's a radio comic named Luzboy who is also a lawyer(!) and yet subtly funny. Lately, his act revolves around a character named Daisy Bird le Maluza, a drunkard. In one bit, she can't believe that her boyfriend, a mortician, can count.

"Daisy Bird narrates how her boyfriend was shocked when he was counting up to 27! Then Maluza asks: "A o e le gore o ne a bala'ng jaanong ko mmoshareng se se 27? (What actually was he counting at the mortuary, which counted up to 27?). That's when Daisy Bird says: "Gatwe marumo"( It was bullets!)."

Get it? He wasn't counting dead bodies; he was counting how many times one dude had been shot! Jeez, this may actually be really dark social satire. Certainly, Luzboy doesn't shy away from more sensitive subjects: "In one comedy, the relationship between Chinese men and black women is exploited in a humorous style, too."

That's actually one I've never heard, although I can certainly picture myself heckling someone who made that kind of joke here, so perhaps we are not so different.

I also found an article (you can find it too by googling "Botswana comedy" and then only looking at the results on the first page) about the growing comedy scene in Botswana titled:

Live comedy stints attracting a steadily growing audience

So apparently not only is the Botswana comedy scene not limited to a blog I'm writing from Philadelphia but it's also growing! The most popular show is called Kings of Comedy, which reminds me of a show my friends do in Long Island City, Queens, another place with a growing comedy scene.

Some of the jokes the reporter recorded were pretty decent--at least they had a set-up and a punchline, even it the punchline depended on a bit of Tswana vernacular I can't understand. But some jokes are universal:

"[One comedian]’s act involved making fun of random people in the audience, especially the two white people who were among the crowd."


  1. You could be one of those two white people!!

  2. I plan to be! But I'll sit in the back and go in blackface.