In this series in the Sunday Nation, we invite readers to send questions to select public figures. Answers will be published in the next print and online editions. This week, comedian Daniel Ndambuki, popularly known as Churchill, responds to your questions.
There are claims you are the highest paid media personality in Kenya, earning a salary of more than Sh700,000 a month at Classic 105 FM. Is this true and is being a comedian so lucrative?
Johnstone Muli Wambua, Gachie, Kiambu
In terms of compensation, I wouldn’t say it is lucrative yet, but we are heading somewhere. You can only appreciate a talent to a certain level. As for matters salary, no comment, but those are very good prayers. Keep praying.
Churchill, you are a true testimony that talent really pays. Sadly most people are out there exploiting artistes. A case in point are some people from ‘River Road’ who have expensive cameras and equipment and are hurriedly making movies while conning or underpaying scriptwriters and actors. How can artistes be saved from such people?
The digital era is here, you don’t have to depend on them to be a success like years past. You can start with your phone and create good content. Work on building your brand and surround yourself with people more knowledgeable than you, especially on matters law. Get a good lawyer to advise before getting into any contract.
Do you have plans to come up with a comedy academy to tap talent?
Peter Waichungo Mureithi, Maua
We are planning on an academy. We are finalising on a concept paper so this should, hopefully, happen soon. We will announce it when we are ready.
We are proud of you Mr Ndambuki. Teacher Wanjiku was one of your greatest comedians. How is your relationship with her? Would you welcome her one day to your podium at Churchhill Show?
Bonface Muriuki, Chuka
My relationship with her is very strong, we even produced her last show at the Kenya National Theatre (in Nairobi) and we talk regularly. The other stories you have heard just help blogs and newspapers to sell.
I am a general manager at Fillers Inn Hotel & Garden, Matuu, Yatta, Machakos County. The management has granted young and upcoming talented youths a training hall and grounds for free. However, they lack instructors, equipment, hope and inspiration. Would you kindly help these young artistes in whichever way possible and brighten their future?
Stephen Ngila, Machakos
We are trying to work with counties to see how we can tap those talents. As an individual, it will be challenging to be everywhere or help everyone because of logistics. But we are trying our best.
Is there a time that you ever felt like leaving comedy?
Churchill Odhiambo, Kiambu
Comedy is a calling. You don’t walk away from a calling.
I heard that you were a Sunday school teacher some time back. That means you were a born again Christian. Why did you cross over to the secular world?
Emmanuel Njau, Nakuru
Who said I crossed over? Who saw me crossing? I just became a teacher in a different field. The same God I used to serve and taught kids about is the same one I am still serving.
Churchill, can you tell us something about your parents, siblings, spouse(s) and children, if any?
Peter Nyakundi Ong’era, Kisii
My families are okay.
Mr Ndambuki, the people of Kakamega are eagerly waiting for you and your crew. Any plans to visit the county?
Allan Odhiambo, Kakamega
Yes, 2017 is your year so get ready. You saw us in Nyamira recently so we are headed your way.
I would say thank you so much Mwalimu for making us laugh every day. I have two questions, are you a trained teacher? Why did you part ways with your “student” Eric Omondi?
Peter Ogada, Nairobi
I am a teacher by default. I did not part ways with Eric, children grow and get to leave home to try out new things and discover the world. If they all stayed “home” at Churchill Show, you’d never have known the new talents, like Prof Hamo, MC Tricky and Mamito.
I appreciate you for the mentorship programmes for youths and other Corporate Social Responsibility activities. How do you cope with your tight schedule – being in studio and being an actor? Secondly, how do you reach the talented youths in rural areas since we have many untapped talents there?
Jeff Chepkwony Sigor, Chepalungu
It is very simple; a day has 24 hours. Eight for sleeping, and eight for work. The difference is what you do with the other eight hours. I also have a very able team that I work with.
Comedy is believed to be a “happiness drug”. Have you thought about working with psychologists and universities to conduct research on comedy’s contribution to happiness in Kenya?
Gabriel Tabona, Nairobi
I hear laughter is the best medicine. I try and serve it in large doses but the rest we leave to the doctors.
What is your take on the management of artistes or comedians by the established entities? Do you think the current framework allows them to grow as such?
Isaac Pello, Eldoret
The industry is still taking shape. The management and the artistes are still learning so there are challenges but everyone will find their footing as the industry matures.
The massive following you command throughout the country puts you in a position of leadership. Your influence cuts across tribe, age and even religion. Does it worry you that the same fans turn against each other come election period? What is your appeal to the youth and all your fans as the 2017 elections fast approach?
Komen Moris, Eldoret
Komen Moris, Eldoret
Kenya is bigger than all of us. It is the responsibility of each one of us to embrace cohesion and not allow someone to divide us. It starts with you as an individual.
With your lion’s share on Kenya Comedy Industry, what are you doing to make sure you bring unity among Kenyans as we head to the August 2017 election?
Francis King’ori, Mombasa
If you watch the show (on NTV every Sunday), our theme is more than comedy. We need to bring people together and also laugh at the things that make us uniquely Kenyan.
Your show is about the only one that still brings the families together. What are you doing to eliminate jokes that suggest romance, sexual innuendo on women and embarrassing bodily descriptions and demonstrations about women?
David Bor, Kericho
We value our integrity and have a strict code of conduct because we have a duty not just to us and the station (NTV) but to anyone who watches the show.
Today most comedians are losing relevance and creativity and engage in tasteless jokes which are very irritating. What are you doing to ensure that they remain relevant?
Paul Mwari Maina, Nyeri
We are still growing in the industry. Audiences are different — you may find a joke irritating, but there is someone else who has been waiting for it and will have a good laugh. It’s a developing form of art that needs time to grow.
You are currently at the top of the Kenyan comedy and we say bravo for that. Do you think the Kenyan comedy industry has recognition in the world map and what’s your plan for local comedians to achieve that? Who’s your mentor in comedy?
Pamba Thomas, Busia
The world has noticed what we are doing. We have performed in comedy festivals with people like Trevor Noah (South African comedian and actor currently hosting the The Daily Show in the US), and also won global awards. My role model is Steve Harvey (American comedian, author and television host) in so many ways.
Why are most of the jokes stereotypical with ethnic bearing and undertones? Isn’t this lack of creativity?
Derek Liech, Mombasa
Derek Liech, Mombasa
Comedy talks about your surroundings. You cannot talk about an Eskimo and you’ve never seen one. We strive to see the lighter side of life.
What are the challenges of being a comedian in our society which considers comedy as just past-time or hobby? Can comedy be considered as a career choice? If so, How?
Comedy is a career and just like the digital space, with time, it will blossom. You need discipline and dedication.
Do you have training programmes for those who are joining comedy?
Peter Wahome, Nanyuki
Yes. We have a whole team in charge of those who happen to come through our channel.
What is your view on the looting of funds at the National Youth Service which were meant to rescue the young people you passionately care about?
The case is currently under investigation and, like you, I am waiting to see what they come up with.