Ba Tencen: No laughing matter
By Andrew Moyo
The packed Harare International Conference Centre auditorium exploded with cheers as one of the most anticipated acts of the night – Ba Tencen – was called to the spotlight.
The celebrated social media comic came on stage holding his trademark two-litre bottle of Coca-Cola and loaf of bread, dancing to hip-hop act Quedow Qrown’s “Wondidii”. The expectant crowd waited for a rib-cracking session.
But five minutes later, there was telling unease in the crowd. A laugh here and there was interspersed with an embarrassed cough. It was no laughing matter. The man simply was not as funny live as he had been on social media.
Could it have been better if Baba Tencen’s handlers had taken it slow? Maybe if they had brought him in as an emcee first before throwing him to the deep end of stand-up comedy things would have turned out better. “I tried my best,” said Baba Tencen, as he vowed he would do better next time.
“I have never performed in front of such a big crowd before but I tried to keep my cool and I thought I managed to deliver skits that I thought were good, but some people were not too impressed.
“I am just happy that there are some people who told me that my set was not that bad, but honestly I think next time I will have to improve and do better than I did on Saturday.”
He said that humbling experience had taught him a lot about stage performance, and he expressed appreciation for the way the “impressive manner” in which the main act, Uganda’s Kansiime, held things together.
He said given another opportunity, he would not disappoint his fans. “I think I will even have to drop the Coke act because many people were citing that as another negative aspect of my set,” he added.
Ba Tencen has stated that he does not write scripts, opting to rely on jokes that come to him as he performs. And this could have been his undoing last weekend.
“I have realised that performing on such a big stage is different from making jokes in front of the camera or at public appearances where I just unleash jokes from my head. From now on, I will have to start writing down skits for my stand-up performances in order to improve my act.”
While some people might say the comic does not have a future in stand-up, he thinks otherwise, highlighting that this show was just the beginning.
“This is my alpha, and starting off with such a big show is a sign to me that I am going where I want to go. Standing on that stage was a pleasure and I am sure this was my first and last disappointment.
“When I came, I was ready to conquer the stage but from the audience feedback I think some people were not happy so I will take this as a lesson moving forward and as a reason to work hard.”
He thanked the fans who came in great numbers to support the show. Prior to the show, Ba Tencen made a R5 000 donation to Shungu Dzevana Children’s Home.
Meanwhile, supporting acts Gonyeti, Probeats and Sylent Nqo had a good day on stage. Probeats and Sylent Nqo showcased why they scooped silverware at the World Championships of Performing Arts with their dazzling beat-boxing and guitar skills.
The headline act, Kansiime, also did not disappoint, proving why she deserves to be called Africa’s Queen of Comedy. The Sunday Mail