Credit for the growth of local stand up comedy goes to individuals who went to great lengths to ensure that the industry got recognition.
Among this list of comics is Doc Vikela, who is now regarded as one of the best comedians ever to grace the local entertainment scene.
The Sunday Mail Leisure had a chat with the former school teacher and salesman who draws his famous jokes from a rich life experience which started in rural Gokwe, way back in June 1986.
Born Victor Tinashe Mpofu, the comic started his primary education at Murwira Primary School in Gokwe before moving to Gweru.
Vikela recalls that during the early stages of life, he was always caught on the wrong side of the law and was constantly punished at school.
“I cannot say I was born mischievous, but I was naughty when I was still a kid and I would always pick fights with other kids after making fun of them.”
He went on to complete his Ordinary level studies at Matinunura High School.
“Our school was next to a cemetery so I can simply say I was doing the graveyard shift for four years but that is when I started doing well and my grades improved,” Vikela said in his ever hilarious tone.
He managed to complete his ‘A’ level studies at Mkoba 3 High School but failed to further his studies due to “various difficulties”.
Instead, he got into relief teaching.
Vikela then moved to Harare in 2006 and started working for Reflections Paper Products as a salesman before being promoted to branch manager.
“At Reflections I started off as a salesman but because I was brilliant at my job — I was promoted.”
After a year, Vikela says he got bored and so he went back into the education sector where he took up another relief teaching post at Harare High School. He also became the school’s soccer coach.
Just like a gypsy, the Doc was always on the move and he didn’t stay long at Harare High as he took on another teaching job at Avenues Education Centre where he taught history and literature.
“I believe the years I spent as a teacher established me as a speaker and prepared me for the profession I was destined for.”
By 2009, he quit his teaching job for theatre, an endeavour which saw him perform at the 2009 edition of the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa).
However, Vikela had attained a Diploma in Human Resources Management during his teaching years.
And putting his qualifications to good use, he started working for Global Tech Human Capital Corporation.
But then again, he quit after a brief stint.
Doc Vikela had discovered himself and had already started writing jokes.
“All this while I was writing jokes because I had earlier on started emceeing at events so I had realised that making people laugh was also part of the trade,’’ Vikela said.
Vikela says top comedian Carl Joshua Ncube’s rise to fame in 2010 was the major driver in his decision to take on comedy seriously.
“In 2010 when Carl came onto the scene, it was like magic because he was just all over the place and his first one-man show at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale, ‘The Big Announcement’, inspired me in a big way as I realised that I could actually make money from comedy.”
Vikela’s first shot at a professional comedy came in 2011 at one of Book Café’s famed Open Mic sessions.
“After realising that I was able to make people laugh – I did not stop – I kept on doing the Open Mic gigs but it took a while for my talent to be endorsed.
Tariro neGitare was the first person who gave me the opportunity to perform at a show at which people had actually paid money to attend. That was at one of her Acoustic Night events, and from there I started performing like a possessed person,” he said.
During the same year, Vikela together with Simba the Comic King formed Simuka Comedy Club, which has since grown to become one of the biggest comedy brands in the country.
“We formed the club and went to Tomas Brickhill who gave us a slot at the now defunct Mannenberg Club. Carl also chipped in – he is the one who designed the logo for our brand, so I can simply say building Simuka was a team effort.
“At first we were performing for as little as four people but now we are having sold out venues.”
In 2012, Vikela received an award from the Zimbabwe Germany Society as the most improved performer when they were honouring consistent performers.
Over the years, the Doc Vikela brand has grown.
He has perfomed at most major comedy events in the country which include the Zimbabwe Comedy Festival, Sunday Night Live, The Bang Bang Comedy Club and The Dons of Comedy, among others. He has also performed at the Jou Ma Se Comedy Club in South Africa.
In August last year, his one man show “Trust Me: I am a Doctor” which he hosted at the Alliance Francaise, went on to be recorded on DVD and to date, thousands of copies have been sold.
Doc Vikela was also nominated for an award at the recently held National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) for the Outstanding Comedian award, which however, went on to be scooped by Clive Chigubhu. The Sunday Mail