His inclusion in African Comedy Tour 2018 in the United States alongside top comedians Eric Omondi and Anne Kansiime shocked many since not so much is known about his works. THOMAS MATIKO set out to find out more about 2Mbili, the up-and-coming creative rubbing shoulders with the big league players in comedy.
Isn’t 2mbili an awkward alias?
Hehehe! 2Mbili is my stage name. I chose it to fulfil the promise I made to myself years back that before the age of 22 (two mbili), I should have started making a name for myself in the Kenyan comedy industry.
I am 24 years now and I have been into comedy for half a decade now. However, my real name is Andrew Duncan Oduor.
How did you career as a comedian come about?
While at Nairobi University, I got tired of asking my dad for pocket money.
Every time I requested for upkeep, he would promise to send me some cash a few days later. I got tired of waiting and started thinking of how I could make a few coins of my own.
I decided to take on comedy in 2013, while still a first year. I linked up with comedians such as YY, and Sleepy (David), who weren’t popular then. We did several auditions, including “Churchill Show”, but I wasn’t really willing to be under any management.
That’s why it’s taken me a while to put my name out there. I may not be known to the public but I’m a force to reckon with among the players in the laughter industry.
How would you prove that?
I have done a couple of comedy shows. If you ever heard of Campus Comedy Show in University of Nairobi, that was my creation. It got a lot of attention and I even remember some established comedians asking me to feature them.
I also did Laugh Festival, Extreme Comedy Night, YOLO (You Only Laugh Once), 22 Reasons to Laugh, and I am currently doing 2Mbili Unchained.
Besides that, I have performed so many times in clubs alongside comedians such as Owago Onyiro, Fred Omondi among others.
One can’t help but wonder why is your content not available online?
I used to run a YouTube account but I have since shut it down because I noticed so many established comedians were plagiarising my work.
I can’t stand people who, lacking originality, end up lifting other people’s work and present them as their own.
With such claims, someone would argue that you are attention-seeking.
It really doesn’t matter what someone will make of this, the truth is always out there. I have been in the industry for five years now and I’m sharing what I have experienced.
Tell us about the recent tour of the US.
It was all good but not that easy. We enjoyed the stay while it lasted. Kenyans in the diaspora were so supportive, they turned up in large numbers for the shows compared to our Ugandan compatriots, bearing in mind we were a combination of Kenya-Uganda comedians.
How did you get to be selected for the African Comedy Tour?
While performing at the comedy shows I had mentioned previously, it happened that the promoter of African Comedy Tour attended most of the shows which were also graced by other comedians.
He enjoyed my style (doing comedy in English) and he reached out and booked me alongside Kansiime and Eric.
What’s one thing you learnt from Kansiime?
Don’t do interviews for free. You’ve got to make people love your content.
Are you serious about the interview part?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t do that, but Kansiime does, I believes it’s because she knows her worth. I respect her position though. If anything, most of us artistes are always looked down upon.
What’s one challenge you have noticed among Kenyans comedians?
Very few of them are able to come up with original content and that’s why they end up stealing upcoming comedians’ content.
MCA Tricky and Eric are the best comedians, that I have seen so far, who are creating original content. They are the way to go.
How do you plan to make your name out there?
You can’t force the public to know you. I will continue playing my part, creating good content, and I am sure my day will come.
What do you make of David the Student scandal?
All I can say is that was sad and very regrettable.
Does it mean comedy doesn’t pay in Kenya?
It does but not for everyone. Not every comedian is happy out there.
What did you study in university?
Has that now gone into waste with the comedy taking the front row?
No, it hasn’t. I am actually planning to invest in it, same way I am doing with comedy, then I shall see how it goes.
What keeps you grounded?
My young family.
At 24, with a family?
Is it a crime? For the record, I am a father of two and glad to be able to take care of my family. I have never lacked, even in times of struggles, somehow doors of fortune always open up.Sijawahi kwama.