Masapo to hang on despite challenges

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Nthatuoa Koeshe

COMEDIAN Masapo says he will persevere in the face of crippling challenges that come with the profession in Lesotho.

The Sea-Point born entertainer uses a self-deprecating style of comedy by poking fun at his life experiences which always leave the audience in stitches rather than feeling sorry for him.

Born Tšepo Mpiti, the comedian ventured into comedy 2012 although he had previously tried his hand at music and was once part of Serumula Choral Group.

Aptly nicknamed Masapo (bones), the gangly comedian grew up as a centre of attention for his peers due to his jokes but he never imagined one day becoming a comedian.

“When I was in school, I was regarded the class clown because I was talkative and always drew people’s attention,” Masapo said.

“Even at church I would be asked to be an MC during events because they saw the potential of becoming a public speaker. Most of my friends encouraged me to venture into comedy but I did not think it was my thing. I always thought that I was a singer and not a comedian.”

At one time while he was in Bloemfontein, he cracked jokes for an audience that asked him back to the stage.

It the 2014 invitation to the Lesotho Tourism Festival (LETOFE) that marked the beginning of his career.

“I remember performing alongside poet Mpho Sefali and Cura the comedian and was told that 90 to 100 percent of my jokes should be in English as the crowed was made of people of different ethnicity. I think that was one of my best performances and that was also when I decided I wanted to be a comedian.”

While enrolled at Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, he often got small gigs where he would perform. In 2017, he was to be nominated for the Savanna Pan African Comic of the Year Award at the annual South African Savanna Comics Choice Awards (Savanna CCA) held at The Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City, in Johannesburg.

“That was when people recognised me and knew because after that I started getting gigs and performed at shows such as Ayepyep in Pretoria and at the eSwatini International Comedy Festival. Everything fell into place from then on.”

He said he still faces several challenges in among them the fact that comedy does not yet attract good numbers. This is unlike in South Africa where comedians get several gigs.

“The problem here at home is that comedy is still relatively unknown and people do not want to pay for comedy. It is a problem because comedy is a career.”

He however applauded local cooperates that have shown understanding of the role of artistes and appreciating that they must be paid.

“The biggest challenge is convincing people that comedy and art are life sustaining careers.”

Masapo has now performed on multiple stages in and outside the country with well-known comedians such as Skhumba, Mashabela, Javas, Piyet, Gunner, Walker, Ivan Bird and Malome Shorty.

He was recently booked to perform at the Flying Fish Add some Flavour event making him the only comedian who performed among DJs.

He is also set to travel to tour Botswana, eSwatini and Zimbabwe later in the year.

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