Rising star Wayne Mazadza on comedy competitions and sidestepping stereotypes
The Harare-born, Edinburgh-based comic is appearing at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival
Wayne Mazadza writes routines to surprise his fellow comedians, ‘with unpredictable punchlines, storylines with surreal endings that really bring justice to the set-up’. Fine-tuning them for up to six months, the Harare-born, Edinburgh-based comic doesn’t just want audiences to ‘laugh for a little bit, I want real clappers. I’m trying to make people remember me. I’m not just doing a gig for the sake of a gig.’
What makes his dedication so striking is that the 22-year-old Zimbabwean has only been performing since August 2011. Yet he’s already bringing Adopted, a debut hour-long show, to the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. ‘It’s ambitious, to be honest,’ he admits. ‘But then I wanted to do it last year’. A graduate of The Stand’s stand-up course, taught by Susan Morrison, he was inspired after witnessing Tom Stade, a regular at the club, on television. ‘He’s just so comfortable on stage,’ he says admiringly of the laid-back, naturally-gifted Canadian.
In his fledgling career, Mazadza has already reached the final of the Scottish Comedian of the Year and Laughing Horse New Act contests, while he took third place in the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny competition. ‘They’re good for quotes and publicity but so, so nerve-wracking,’ he says of these necessary evils.
Alongside Stade, he cites other internationally successful acts like South African Trevor Noah and Americans Louis CK and Kevin Hart as idols. ‘I feel [Hart] is like me in a way, he came from nowhere. Now people just love him.’
About to start a course on filmmaking, which he’s ‘fallen in love with’, he’s currently forsaken material about growing up black in Scotland, having lived here for 13 years with his parents and nine apart from them with his younger brother. ‘It seems too easy, just trading on stereotypes,’ he argues. ‘I wasn’t satisfied with what I was writing and it felt like I was cheating. I just want to write about dogs or something normal.’
He maintains that he finds it ‘hard performing for black people’, but that he’s ‘trying to come up with some African-friendly material’ that he might one day perform in Zimbabwe. ‘I’ve never used Robert Mugabe for a routine because it’s hard to think of material on him for some reason. Like George W Bush, I obviously want him out of the picture as quickly as possible. Just hopefully not before I’ve got a really good punchline.’
Wayne Mazadza: Adopted, The Art School Union, Glasgow, Thu 28 Mar.