Entertainment Theatre

‘Joke was on the Playhouse’

CHANDA MWENYA, Lusaka
THE show started soon after the mayor of Lusaka came in. Not sure whether the city father had been to the Lusaka Playhouse before, but Henry BJ Phiri, who was anchoring the comedy show, thought it wise to let the mayor, who was the guest of honour at the comedy show, get a clear idea of the playhouse.
“Your Worship, this building was built in 1958 and it has not received any facelift ever since. The live wires you see over there are supposed to show an exit sign,” BJ said, pointing at a dilapidated electricity panel above the doors.
A joke it may have been, but make no mistake, the Lusaka Playhouse is in a very sorry state of affairs.
Its facilities are dilapidated, and its membership is continuously embroiled in fights. The library, which contained all sorts of classic and contemporary works by renowned playwrights, authors and poets, is no more, the lighting room is permanently a dark place, the back stage can no longer re-create those magical moments, the wardrobe is gone, the rubber stage floor has been replaced with a slippery mat, the two rehearsal rooms host something else apart from theatre, and the list goes on.
Oh, and one more thing, no one knows where the title deeds are.
Anyhow, that is another story for another day.
Anyway, for those that did not attend the comedy show last week, which comedian-cum-politician Patrick “Sauloshi” Salubusa was using as a fundraiser for his Kapwepwe ward, you did not miss much, particularly if you are a regular attendee at these shows; most of the jokes were not new.
The mood of the audience was generally jovial even though the show was delayed by an hour having originally been scheduled to start at 19:00 hours. Thanks to the Valentine’s ambiance which was prevailing that evening, otherwise it could have been annoying to look at the closed red curtains for the entire hour.
But once the mayor was in, the show briskly started.
Collins Phiri, aka The President, set the tone for the night by mimicking former minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda sending a Valentine’s message to his wife on “The Assignment” anchored by television personality Coaster Mwansa.
Other characters he mimicked from the political arena include former Cabinet minister Mike Mulongoti and former President Rupiah Banda.
But he nailed it when he turned to Stoppila Sunzu, the Africa Cup winning defender, who made headlines in the build-up to Valentine’s Day when he bought a luxury car for his wife.
Ever heard of the Sunzu challenge?
The challenge was to maintain the flow, but Aubrey Luo somewhat brought it low as most his jokes were repetitions.
Tongue-in-cheek, Isaac Chamba paid tribute to all those that lost their lives at the hands of their lovers before going in his act, which was hilarious.
Other acts were by Tom Njovu. Although not new to the stage, he was doing standup for the first time.

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