The sky is the limit for Anne Kansiime. The Ugandan comedienne, known as ‘Africa’s Queen of Comedy’, has seen her star rise rapidly.
She has performed throughout Africa and staged sold-out shows in England and Australia. The stages in London and Sydney are a long way away from the first play she took part in while in university in Kampala.
She owes her professional success to Fun Factory, which she says gave her both the time and space to improve.
“I had always known I had a relatively good sense of humor but didn’t think at all that it was something I would do professionally. But, in 2009, I was spotted by Fun Factory Uganda, a sketch comedy group, and I was given an opportunity to feature in their play, The Nasty Good Story. After that play, I stayed on for their weekly shows at the National Theater (Uganda) and I have been a member since.”
It was not a seamless start in the entertainment industry.
“Being a part of a comedy group, comprised of drama graduates and very experienced actors, really steered me in the right direction. There was too much to learn from them and a lot of mistakes to be forgiven,” says Kansiime.
Apart from the stand-up shows, Kansiime also hosts the television show, Don’t Mess With Kansiime. She is, however, best known for her YouTube channel. The global video-sharing website recently awarded her a Silver Play Button for gathering more than 100,000 channel subscribers.
But this is only one of the many accolades that the graduate of Social Sciences has bagged in the past few years. Last year, Kansiime pocketed the Airtel Women of Substance Award and, in 2013, was named the Best Comedian at the Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts (BEFFTA), the Best Actress at the Lagos International Festival, and Favorite Celebrity at the Social Media Awards.
The 28-year-old praises her husband, Gerald Ojok, for giving her all the support she needs.
“It’s not easy to balance marriage and a career but with a good partner, things can get a little easier. [He] has been the best support I could ever ask for. He doesn’t put me in a position where I have to explain myself and my actions.”
One of Kansiime’s most watched clips on YouTube are those where she argues with her husband. She is quick to add that these don’t reflect her life.
“Contrary to what people might think, I am not as quarrelsome as the Kansiime in the skits. I’m very quiet around strangers and, actually, my husband makes me laugh way more than I could ever make him. I’m normal, I assure you.”
Unlike many up-and-coming celebrities who look up to other people for inspiration, Kansiime says: “I don’t really look up to a particular individual in life but rather to everyone that does everything in their power to make the world a better place for everyone.”
That doesn’t stop Kansiime from wanting to inspire others. She is currently working on songs to inspire children.
“I’m currently working on a music album and videos for children dubbed My Name is Kansiime. I’m trying to create entertainment that is actually suitable for children.”
There are many established and up-and-coming comedians in Africa, but Kansiime doesn’t see them as competition.
“I try not to compete with anyone but rather with myself because I know my humor has a unique touch. So, I only strive to be a better person every day.”
Among Kansiime’s many fans, one stands out. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, who was in Uganda working on the movie Queen of Katwe, was full of praise for the comedienne after the two met.
After posting pictures of the two, Nyong’o called Kansiime the “funniest Ugandan. Period.”
It won’t be long before she’s considered the funniest African. Period.