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Zimbabwe Laughs! How Online Skits are Stealing the Show

Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE), a gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.

Zimbabwe Laughs! How Online Skits are Stealing the Show

Zimbabwe’s comedy scene is booming, and online skits are leading the charge. These short, hilarious videos are taking the country by storm, and some people are even wondering if they’re eclipsing mainstream film and television productions in terms of popularity.

By Tawanda Mupatsi

Online comedy skits are basically short pieces of humorous dramatic performances which are recorded and shared on various social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. Zimbabwean creatives have been riding on this online wave for over eight years with initiators like Lucky Aaron, Admire Kuzhangaira popularly known as Bhutisi and Rolland Lunga Boss Kedha being among those who set the tone for the growth of online comedy skits movement. Today a YouTube channel like Naiza Boom which is synonymous with comic skits boasts of over 500 000 subscribers. These numbers are colossal, local mainstream film and television productions social media handles are nowhere close to these figures. While this might signal the boom of online comedy skits in terms of local popularity, the truth of the matter is they are in a lone race.

Mainstream film and television producers do not distribute their content easily online like church flyers. They target international film festivals which in turn open linkages to content distribution and later translates into profit.

One of the reasons why online comedy skits seem to be on an elevated pedestal is the context in which it is being presented. Zimbabweans have long wrestled with a history of socio-economic and political challenges.

A good laugh as generated by these skits in such circumstances becomes a popular form of therapy through entertainment.

However, this assertion might be slightly off sync when one takes into view that in mainstream film and television production the genre of comedy is also represented. Secondly, it might not be scientifically truthful to assume that the mass of content consumers derive escapism from their realities through only watching comedy as some prefer other genres. The prevailing wave of popularity of comedy skits might not mean that the mainstream has fallen out of favor, the only issue is that many of the mainstream film and television productions are not easily available where many now assemble, that’s online.

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Comic skits in Zimbabwe are usually minimalistic in their production, a chosen storyline is filmed in one take, usually in a one set.

Some creators even use their smartphones to record the skits, this then means that there is no burden of huge expenses. With this in mind it then means most of these content creators are better positioned to film and upload several skits in a week unlike their fellow compatriots. Once the social media platforms are flooded with these skits, it then emerges to be the only available entertainment alternative to interact with. If mainstream content producers are to also saturate the online platforms with their content definitely the narrative will change. Its only that for some, participating in this race might not be a feasible model.

Online comedy skits enjoy a certain level of popularity among Zimbabweans, the subject matter is undoubtedly palatable in its short easily accessible formats. The existing room for immediate feedback between the audience and the content creators is something that can be held in high regard. However, while mainstream productions can benefit from going online to tap into the global netizens viewership they are still titans in following best practice cinematic processes.   

Made by Kuda (MADE IN ZWE)
A gift to Plot Mhako and the earGROUND vision.
Truly, for the culture.

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