A Conversation With Munya: Talking Her Journey Into Comedy

The first time I met Munya, she told me that other people's jokes never made her laugh (A statement I soon proved I was the exception to) but as she went on she explained that although she finds listening to other people's attempts at humour awkward, telling jokes has always naturally been in her. The truth in her words is truly brought to life when you watch her perform. She has made stand-up comedy her home and you can tell this by how her stage presence is way bigger than her short stature.

Munya performing on stage
Image: Supplied

Munya's bubbly personality exudes when she has an audience and she's ever ready with wit to throw back to the audience whatever remarks they toss at her. In June when she hosted Proud Laughs, I witnessed her expertly handle an intimate crowd - that had rumblings of discontent as the event was delayed - and in September she was the MC at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival which showcased how good she is no matter the size of the audience or the event.

I finally got to ask Munya a few burning questions recently and it was a welcome change from the usual "So when does it start?"

What made you choose comedy?


Comedy chose me when it made half my life a joke. As a person who runs her mouth a lot, it’s something I always wanted to try: a conversation where you find community in people who confirm that they also find a particular thing weird, annoying, or unbelievable, even if only for a brief moment, and hopefully, you get to laugh about it.


What inspires your comedy?

My opinions on some of the silly things that people do to make life extra hard like we’re not all seeing flames as it is. I like to ignite conversations that let us examine the frameworks within which we think about some things.


What do you remember of your first performance?

Yes. I talked entirely too fast and no one heard a thing.


How has it been breaking into the Zimbabwean comedy scene?


It’s been such a delight to make people laugh. Especially people from school I hadn’t seen in years who were looking for more of the current modern movement in Zim culture. In a lot of cases, it was simply a matter of stepping through a door that had already been open a long time but I wasn’t sure enough.

But, it really has felt like breaking into something at times. I find that people in Harare tend to have a restricted view of what “Zimbabweaness” looks like and if anything falls outside of that, it’s not valid. If you weren’t beaten as a child: wakajaidzwa. If you have a different accent: unozvida. If you have too much money: wakaromba, unovhaira. If you have too little and you’re budgeting: saka ndozvirikutadzisa kutenga doro? We’ve definitely come a long way in finding and exploring our identity as a modern culture and I’m excited to have a platform to be part of that.


What has been your favourite moment so far in your career?


Each time people laugh and you have to stop feels like such a blessing, the most relieving relief on Earth! Highlights definitely include my own one-hour show with Simuka Comedy in March 2022, opening for King Kandoro at 7 Arts in 2021, opening for the Shoko Festival Roast of Themba Mliswa at Reps Theatre that was hosted by Simuka Comedy, and each time I’ve done an event for Sekesai Collective and made women and queer people laugh, feel understood, and just free to be comfortable.

A Conversation With Munya: Talking Her Journey Into Comedy
The flyer for Munya's performance at King Kandoro's special last year


Munya has not only stood on stage to entertain the audience with her humour but she's had a bit of an acting career on the side. Her on-screen parody of opposition party CCC's Fadzayi Mahere has received high acclaim and brought laughter to many, including Mahere herself and Munya has also featured on Simuka Comedy's series Special Class.

How different is acting versus expressing your comedy as a stand-up?


A lot of the satire and comedy writing I do that I then act myself is based on the same opinions and the writing format has a lot of overlap. But for theatre and film, depending on the role,  you have to take yourself outside yourself, your ego, your consciousness of self, your history-out. 

There can be a lot of overlap in the process though especially when you go really deep. With stand-up, you go so inside to parts you wouldn’t normally show the outside and lay them out on display, standing just outside of your ego to be able to laugh at anything that happens and let go of any bombs but close enough to enjoy the jokes with the audience with a sense a job well done. 

It’s all revealing a little piece of yourself, whether or not people realize or believe it. And it’s all just having an intense kind of fun that, honestly, swings dangerously close between mania and depression that can warp your reality if you’re not able to bring yourself back.


How has your family responded to your chosen profession?


I was always a bit of an oddball so they just take some of these things in stride. I can be bisexual, I can be agnostic, and I can joke about sex on stage, but I definitely can’t have a nose ring or date anyone. There are limits to even the freest of black parents’ love.


What would be the dream achievement for your career?


Making people laugh. It seems simplistic, but that’s all this is really. You work really hard for a moment. Yes, the vibes help, but regardless of the venue, event, crowd size, or day, it comes down to you and a moment between each individual mind, and all you want, is to do a good job while being yourself. 

My dream at the moment is to work everywhere and anywhere. I want to improve my Improv and acting skills, work more in production for film, directing for theatre, and all kinds of writing definitely, and of course, grow the audience. I’d love for Harare and Zim to be like Nairobi: a place for African comedy and art that’s constantly buzzing, you know? Live shows every week of every art form that is part of the nightlife culture.

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