UK-based stand-up comedian Daliso Chaponda (DC) is in the country on tour with his new ‘Antisocial Commentator’ and is expected to have two shows in the capital Lilongwe on 27 January, then in Blantyre the following day. After Malawi, the comic will stage performances in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Nyasa Times (NT) caught up with the son to politician Dr George Chaponda who is currently Minister of Education, Science and Technology. In this interview, the comedian who has performed and been published all over the world, talks about his journey and other issues.
He calls on his father to retire from politics and join him in the comic industry, a new phenomenon in Malawi.
NT: How do you introduce yourself to the public?
DC: I’m Daliso Chaponda, a comedian, revolutionary, pervert, madman, idealist, and lots more contradictory adjectives.
NT: Give us your family, background and education:
DC: My parents [are] in Malawi and I have three brothers scattered around the world. I studied in programming and literature in Canada. I discovered stand-up comedy while I was in Canada and at first it was a hobby.
NT: How did you find yourself in the UK?
DC: In 2006 a British comedy agency called Tongue in Cheek saw video clips of my performances and offered to represent me there.
NT: Talking about your name isn’t it supposed to be Dalitso
DC: There are lots of Dalitsos and Madalitsos. There is only one Daliso and he is a comedian.
NT: Did you grow up knowing you were funny.
DC: Not specifically but I did always know that my words could move people; I was good at debates and making speeches. I could have easily ended up as a reverend or politician. Congregations and constituencies are lucky I found comedy instead.
NT: Who inspired you? Were you studying comics?
DC: Most of my early inspiration was from funny writers like Roald Dahl and Jonathan Swift, not comedians. I only started watching stand-up comedy once it was my job. And no, I was not studying comedy. I think it’s impossible to study. It’s like singing. You get better by practicing. Watching a thousand comedy DVDs won’t make you funnier but doing a thousand shows does.
NT: Take our readers on a journey from career beginning to present date.
DC: Between 2000 and 2004, I was doing Amateur nights in Canada. I was doing it for fun, rarely being paid. 2005 was the turning point when I did the just for laughs festival in Montreal, did six months in South Africa and then moved to the UK in 2006. This is when I first started living off it doing three to six shows a week. I performed hundreds of shows in the UK and then from 2008 onwards I started doing international shows and TV appearances in Australia, Canada and Scotland. In 2011, I decided to reconnect with African audiences and did shows in Malawi, Zimbabwe and SA.
NT: After reconnecting with the audiences in Africa in 2011, should we say the response you had then gave you the urge to come back to Africa this year?
DC: Yes definitely, I want to do more countries so I’m investigating Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya and Namibia.
NT: Are you on a campaign to make Daliso Chaponda a continental brand in Africa?
DC: That’s the eventual aim. One step at a time.
NT: Tell readers about ‘Antisocial commentator’.
DC: It’s my new show, it’s the sequel to ‘laughrica’ and in it I’ll talk about 2011’s big stories like the fuel crisis, the Libyan war, in addition to my usual favourite subjects of love and family.
NT: The fuel crisis, is this the Malawian fuel crisis?
DC: Yes, Malawian fuel crisis will indeed be a subject I will make jokes about.
NT: And what’s in it about the Libyan war?
DC: Gadaffi will also come up. You’ll have to come see them.
NT: Any other comedies you can share with readers?
DC: On my website Daliso.com there are links to jokes and publications that I’m sure would tickle your readers.
NT: Why should people come to your Shows?
DC: More than ever before, people in Malawi need laughter. I’m the man to provide it.
NT: Following you on Facebook, you take difficult subjects and make them entertaining. What gives you the nerve to delve into the hard stuff?
DC: The difficult subjects are what most interest me. If it makes someone angry, uncomfortable or embarrassed it fascinates me.
NT: Are you always on the lookout for humour?
DC: Yes. Every conversation I have, every situation I’m in, every article I read is a possible joke in the making.
NT: When you think of something humourous, say when you’re walking, do you stop and write it down?
DC: Yes. I irritate people sometime. I’ve taken out a notebook and scribbled a note on a date. She was not amused.
NT: Do you believe anyone can be humourous?
NT: Who is your best friend?
DC: I have no idea. I have lots of them.
NT: Are your friends humourous as you?
DC: Yes. My friends are hilarious.
NT: What excites you in life?
DC: Stories, laughter and beauty.
NT: What makes you depressed?
DC: Humiliation, loneliness and regret.
NT: We all have ultimate dreams, what are you striving to accomplish?
DC: I have a million ideas that are in my mind that I want to let out in stand-up, novels or scripts. I have one person in mind I’d like to share them with but the rest of you will have to do in the meanwhile.
NT: Do you find comics more unique than any other entertainment?
DC: Not really. Comedy isn’t that unique and doesn’t require any special talent to do. Everyone is funny.
NT: Do you take yourself and your career seriously?
DC: Very seriously. Probably one percent of artists manage to live exclusively off their art. Now that I’m in that percent I don’t want to go back into the regular 9-5 job wasteland. The only way to do that is to work really hard and manage talent like a small business.
NT: What makes Daliso unique?
DC: 1000 cubic centimeters between the ears.
NT: Is there a life strategy for Daliso Chaponda?
DC: Figuring it out as I go along.
NT: Do you approach life from a comedic point of view, or are you serious most of the time?
DC: Actually I’m serious almost always.
NT: What else do you do apart from comedies?
DC: I write short stories and screenplays. I should be finishing working on a novel this month and radio project with BBC, hopefully it will be aired this year. I’ll update everyone from my website if it happens.
NT: In the coming years, what can Malawi/the world expect from Daliso Chaponda?
NT: Do you harbor any plans of introducing professional comics in Malawi?
DC: It would be great to do shows every few months where I host and welcome a few visiting comedians I know from South Africa or the UK. Logistics are the obstacle at present but it’ll happen at some point.
NT: Is there a market for stand-up comedy in Malawi?
DC: There is clearly an appetite for it. Last year our show got around 1000 people and this year we want to double that number. All you’d need for a regular monthly comedy club is 300 people a month. What is needed is the artists.
NT: What does it take to be a good stand-up comedian?
DC: Practice, observation and delight in people.
NT: Let’s go back a bit, who is that person you have to share your million ideas with?
DC: Possibly the love of my life. Possibly something to regret. Only time will tell.
NT: Is your love life something for public eyes or ears?
DC: Nope. Ears yes, she’ll be mentioned in the show under an alias.
NT: So Daliso Chaponda is already taken?
DC: Maybe, maybe not. [Laughs]. The kinds of jokes I’ll tell over the next year are dependent on what happens next. I might be a very optimistic or pessimistic comic. We’ll see.
NT: As son to a politician, do you harbour any plans to walk in your father’s footsteps one day?
DC: No. But maybe when he’s done with all this political nonsense he’ll follow in mine and become a comedian.
NT: Is that a special joke to our readers? [Laughs]
DC: I’m serious. Let’s start a movement. Everyone who sees him in the street, approach him and tell him to do stand-up comedy.
NT: What’s your favourite Malawian song, if there’s any?
DC: I don’t have one
NT: In closing, maybe you could give our readers the very latest joke you’re working on for your act?
DC: This is an entry from today fuel shortage solution –> ambassador should have waited –> jerikan coca cola –> Obama Osama. As I said, gibberish until I figure out how to mix all the elements into something funny.
NT: Thanks for your time Daliso, Nyasa Times wishes you the very best!
DC: Thanks.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :