Henry Desagu has a SOMA award nomination on his belt, more than 15,000 followers on social media and the ability to get trending in a matter of minutes after being in the industry for a period of just one and a half years.
The Team Mafisi spokesperson talks to Buzz about his refreshingly original comic input to the game.
Have you always known you were funny?
Let's just say that I’ve been making everybody happy since childhood.
Your particular style of comedy is as unique and intriguing as they come. How can you describe it?
It is called situational comedy; we create a scenario but, though we act as comedians, our lines aren't scripted.
Is there a production crew involved in the making of your clips or do you wing it? What are the behind the scenes really like?
Yes, we do have a team, but it isn't complex. As for behind the scenes, extremely and hilariously chaotic are the words. The slay queens aren’t too bad either.
In your opinion who are the most underrated comedians in the sector right now?
There isn't a particular comedian in the industry right now who I think is overlooked, but a surprising thing I realised was that there are very many hilarious Kenyans who have talent they could monetise but they do not understand that.
As a patron of the comedic arts, what kind of challenges do you experience especially when it comes to commercial success?
Keeping Kenyans entertained and making sure the content is relevant throughout is taxing because, just as I said, there are many underrated comedians in this country and everybody knows how hard it is to make a funny person laugh.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do?
Seeing my fans appreciate my content is for sure the most enjoyable part.
Tell me of an instance where you thought you were funny but, in reality, were making a fool of yourself.
There was a time in campus when we had an event, and people had gathered waiting for the musician. I offered to do stand-up comedy to curtain raise for him and the emcee agreed.
I still don't know to this day why, if they were moody or my jokes weren't funny, I was telling jokes to a dead crowd. I left the stage with a queasy stomach.
Which comedians do you look up to and what qualities about them do you admire?
I look up to Dave Chappelle because he is creative with his storylines, and Kelvin Hart who has fantastic delivery. I also look up to Churchill, Njugush, and Jaymo Ule Msee for their self-branding skills and, though I'm different, I try to package myself like them as much as I can.
Speaking of Njugush and Jaymo, what do you feel about your competition and fans pitting you against each other?
For me, the fact that people can see me being in a rank high enough to compete with these great people is success on its own, because the real competition is getting people to recognise your brand.
How do you deal with criticism?
Haters tunao wengi tena sana. That’s another thing with online business: Not everyone with is going to agree with you and if they do then something is definitely off. Not only that, sometimes we do some clips and they go way left! But all this is part of the trade and anyone willing to participate in anything online should brace for opposing views.
What should your fans expect from you in the future?
They should expect craziness. We plan to push ourselves to the extreme and bring them amazingly rich content, better quality, more efficient modes of delivery, and we also plan to bring work representing all walks of life.
Any plans to get into TV?
Currently, none, as we're still trying to push online audience numbers to get even higher.
What video are you most proud of to date?
I am proud of all my work but the one that still stands out is the first video we did “Team Mafisi Press Conference”.
It was about “sponsors” stealing all the beautiful girls and leaving the rest to “Team Mafisi” hustlers. We didn't know it would go viral but it did and, considering we did it blindly without knowing what the audience liked, it was a massive success that got me where I am today.
Finally, tell us your funniest joke.
In one of my videos, I was being interviewed about corruption in Kenya, and I was trying to use hard political jargon and like ‘bamboozled,' ‘fumbled' and ‘discombobulated.'
One of my statements went, "Because of corruption, Kenyans are partaking in selective amnesia juxtaposed with obnoxious umbwedede”.
The word umbwedede was the thing that went noticed online which was surprising because it was a made-up word!
To this day, people stop me on the streets and ask me what that word means and I tell them it is something that is worse than worst. (Laughs)