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Nigerian comedians have greatly influenced African comedy – Uganda’s ‘Salvado’

Weekend Magazine: How did you begin comedy? Patrick Idringi ‘Salvado:’ In 2009, there was a competition in Uganda called ‘Stand up Uganda’ organised by MNET.…

Weekend Magazine: How did you begin comedy?
Patrick Idringi ‘Salvado:’ In 2009, there was a competition in Uganda called ‘Stand up Uganda’ organised by MNET. They were looking for the funniest man.
I am professionally a telecoms engineer, but I enrolled for the competition. I left work and went for the auditioning. I made it through the different stages and got up to the top 10, top five, top four and then to the top two. Unfortunately, I was beaten. I came second, but from that moment I knew that comedy was really what I was called to do. I began pursuing it and well, here I am today.
Have you given up engineering?
I have put it on hold for now. First, it was not paying. Second, I was spending such long hours as an engineer, working. I would normally work up to 12, 14 hours daily. This was taking a toll on me and yet the money was very small.
I love engineering and I know that someday I will go back to practice it, but for now I have put it on hold and I’m concentrating on comedy. Comedy has taken me places. But for comedy I would not be with you in Nigeria.
You have performed in Nigeria three times now. What has it been like?
I have performed twice in Lagos and once in Abuja. I must say I am quite happy with the responses I have received from the audiences. I also must say that I think I have done a good job here too.
What inspires the jokes you crack?
My inspirations are from within Africa. We have a lot of content here as a result of the diverse cultures. There are so many things we need to share among ourselves and with the world at large. The best way we can do this is through comedy.
When most people hear about Africa or even we Africans hear about some of our sister nations, what comes to mind is war, starvation, chaos, poverty, children with flies and other such negative images. You know how foreign NGOs (non-government organisations) come to take funny pictures of calamities in Africa and how they spread like wild fire.
This is what they portray of us when they go outside. But this is not it; this is not what Africa is about. In Africa, we are rich, we are full of life; we have so much potential. So, we need to expose our cultures; our different, diverse cultures through comedy. Through the best way we can. It is the one way we as comedians  are promoting Africa in positive light.
I am happy to be a part of the African team doing this. I am also very happy and doff my hat to the fact that there is a company out there opening its doors to promote local talents. All I can say is may the good Lord keep on rewarding them.
Everybody needs a kick-in step, a helping hand to take you to another level and without Globacom, someone like me wouldn’t have been here.
I may know Basketmouth and some other Nigerian comedians, but without the company’s support, I would not have been here. Maybe they would have used local talents, but they have filled this place with a diversity of cultures not only from Africa, but from the United States of America too. This definitely takes us to the next level.
Against the background of your interaction with Nigerian comedians and comedians from other parts of Africa, how much impact would you say Nigerian comedians have had on the comedy scene in Africa?
Comedy from Nigeria has totally influenced how comedy is practised in Africa. Before I started doing comedy, I already knew who Basketmouth was. I knew who Klint da drunk was. I knew who Gordons was and I also knew who ‘Okey Bakassi’ was, because these were the people I would watch online. At the time, I prayed that one day I would be like these guys and I am on You-tube as well.
Actually, I wasn’t influenced by western culture; their comedy is quite different. I was particularly influenced by Basketmouth. I won’t lie. (laughter), ‘Klint da drunk’ also influenced me. They were the two I watched the most. I am very, very grateful for all the encounters which have helped me develop my skills as a comedian.
Is there any particular theme you like to treat with your comedy?
I really do enjoy talking about myself and where I am from, because it is the best way I can sell my country. Like when I go to South Africa and I say I am a Ugandan, the initial reaction is a sigh with a shocking kind of expression on their faces followed by ‘you have AIDs.’ Yes that’s what I get.It’s like when a Nigerian comes; they say ‘be careful, those Nigerians are thieves.’  Sadly, most times, we only know about other countries through bad things. So, with my comedy I try to bring out those other things which people do not know about my country.
Every time I walk pass, someone says, ‘hey that is ‘Salvado.’ He is a Ugandan. He is very funny. He comes from a village called Mbokolo. They do this, that, and the next thing.’ So they forget the negatives of my origin.Gradually, they will get rid of the stereotypes that they have AIDs and all such things.
How well have you been able to bring about change in the manner in which people think in Uganda?
In Uganda it is growing. Every night, we have a comedy night. It could be stage acting. It could be stand-up. It is now a growing trend which means it is the latest thing taking over.
As a result of this, I have been able to move and we are taking over music, because those days you would go to a wedding and you find five musicians. Nowadays it is a comedian you’ll find entertaining guests.This is how it has transcended to become big.
The same way comedians are anchor persons for programmes here is the same way they anchor programmes in Uganda. When Basketmouth performed in Uganda, I was the anchor person for the event. I was the anchorman when P-Square came. Also, when Flavour came. They are now using comedians, because it is the new way of communicating with people.
Have you had any embarrassing moments on stage?
Fortunately, not yet, (laughter). I have been very lucky so far and hope I don’t have one.
What was your first public performance like?
It was scary. I really was scared. Even now, the first five seconds before I settle in are scary. The last five seconds before my name is called are the worst times in my life. That’s when I get scared the most, but when they call my name, I’m like ‘there’s no way I can avoid this.’ So, I just loosen up and I go on stage.

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