Cyprian Osoro doesn’t want to be misunderstood.
When he and Victor Nyaata came up with the idea of having a live ‘Gusii Night of Comedy’, they didn’t intend for only Kisii people to come see their show on February 8 at the Kenya National Theatre.
“Our performance will blend Swahili and English together with Gusii,” says the actor who, like Nyaata, is probably best known for his comedic roles in Heartstrings Entertainment’s ‘rib-tickling’ plays.
Just because their theatre company is called Mkisii ni Mkisii and their Saturday night live show is called Ensacha Enkungu which in Kisii loosely means ‘A man who behaves like a cowardly woman’, also doesn’t mean they aim to exclude anyone.
Nick Kwach, another Heartstrings’ ‘star’ eagerly testifies to the multilingual character of Mkisii ni Mkisii as well as their show. “Just the same way we love Rumba music but don’t understand Lingala, so we can appreciate Kisii comedy without knowing every word,” Kwach says.
“After all, creative expression goes beyond language. For instance, I watch French shows, but I don’t speak French. I enjoy them anyway,” he adds.
To underscore his point, Osoro adds, “Nick is the producer for our show. He’s also a member of Mkisii ni Mkisii.”
The comedic comradery of the three actors has been apparent whenever a Heartstrings production features all three. Whether it was Grass is Greener or Odd one out or Don’t Panic, the trio never failed to elicit many laughs while the shows inevitably blend Swahili and English with Sheng.
Unfortunately, they’ll have a conflict of interest the weekend of February 6th through 9th when Heartstrings puts on its first show of the new year, Good for Nothing.
“Our show is just one night, which is that Saturday, the 8th but it couldn’t be helped,” says Osoro who still considers himself a hardcore member of Heartstrings. So do Kwach and Nyaata. “Even if we’re not with them for this production, we are always together,” Nyaata says assuringly.
But since acting is all three of their chosen profession, Osoro says a guy still has to hustle to make a good living. “But times have changed since actors were impoverished. Now we just have to juggle various things to make it work, but it does,” he adds.
For instance, both he and Kwach write for NTV’s The Wicked Edition with Dr King’ori. Kwach also writes for The Churchill Show and Comedy Special while Osoro is a creative producer for the daily lifestyle show, Living with Ess on NTV. He also has his own online cable show where he has played Mwalimu Rikunyati on Citizen TV’s Viusasa for six seasons of 13 episodes each. Meanwhile, Victor also stars in the popular TV sit-com, Trap House on NTV. He also runs an online liquor store called Privika which he somehow has time to manage.
Plus, all three actors have been involved in dubbing Mwalimu Rikunyati in local languages. Originally filmed in Gusii, it was initially dubbed in Swahili and English, but after that, the episodes were dubbed in everything from KiKamba, Kiluhya and Dhuluo to Kalenjin, Kimeru and Kikuyu.
They all act in TV commercials as well. But currently, their focus is their Gusii comedy night.
“This will be Mkisii ni Mkisii’s first live production,” says Nyaata who with Osoro started producing online comedy clips in Gusii four years ago.
“We were still living in Riruta at the time,” adds Osoro who recalls the years when he and Nyaata stayed with five other guys in a single-room mabati house. Both actors were performing in set-text plays with Theatrix Arts Ensemble when they starting filming short comedy clips just for fun. “We first posted them on my Facebook page, but then we got so many hits, we went to YouTube,” Nyaata adds.
But now that they’ve got thousands of subscribers following them at Mkisii ni Mkisii, they decided the time was ripe to go live. That means their Gusii comedy Night will be the premiere live performance of MnM in Ensacha Enkungu.
Basically, Osoro says the show is a story about one Gusii man’s journey from his rural home to the big city, including all the quirky things that happen to him along the way.
“We are trying something new for us. The show won’t be stand-up comedy or a sit-com. It will be more like situational comedy,” says Osoro who advises people to come see the show for themselves and enjoy.