INTERVIEW: Out of Africa comes a real comedy star

Daliso Chaponda
Daliso Chaponda
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Complaining about politicians is a national pastime in the UK - but it’s behaviour that can land you in serious trouble in many other countries.

It’s an experience that comedian Daliso Chaponda knows only too well. When performing in his home country of Malawi, some of his jokes about the government rankled some of the powers that be.

“They sent a government censor to one of my shows,” he said. “In the end, I didn’t get in any real trouble. We managed to trick him about what some of the show’s content actually meant.

“It was a stressful experience at the time - but it did provide me with material for my new show.”

Daliso is bringing that production, ‘Laughrica’, to Behind the Wall on July 21 as part of the fourth annual Funny in Falkirk comedy festival.

It’s safe to say that performing to a potential crowd numbering in the hundreds in the Melville Street venue will not intimidate the 33-year-old, who, when performing in Africa, regularly plays to audiences of 2000 or more.

“In Malawi and Zimbabwe, comedy shows do not happen often so they are considered real events,” he explains.

Daliso began his comedy career while studying in Canada. His observations on how Western culture was crazy - but African culture could be even crazier - quickly gained him a loyal following.

His 2004 show ‘Don’t Let Them Deport Me’ was a plea to officials to have his Canadian visa extended. The show was a sell-out, well reviewed and prompted numerous letters to bureaucrats. He was forced to leave anyway after one final show, 2005’s ‘They’re Deporting Him Anyway’.

Now settled in the UK, Daliso says there’s one important difference between audiences here and in Canada.

“In the UK, you can do shows seven nights a week because people drink so much! If you went to a show here on a Monday night, people will still have a drink and a laugh. In Canada, it’s more of a weekend thing. It’s funny, but it’s true.”