Last Thursday was a unique day for Kampala’s comedy industry as two comedy shows happened on the same night and at venues just metres away from each other ‒ Diners Lounge and The 400 Lounge. Both are located in Bukoto, a city suburb.
It all started when Diners Lounge management canceled its contract with Alex Muhangi and his ‘Comedy Store’ franchise and hired another comedian, Ronnie McVex, to handle its comedy shows which have been happening, since mid last year, every Thursday.
Muhangi wasn’t willing to let what he described as his ‘baby’ die, and sought refuge at The 400 Lounge, which is just 20 metres from Diners. Muhangi, together with The 400 bar management, called a press conference on Wednesday to announce the act’s new home and also ‘clear the air.’
According to Muhangi, “Comedy Store had grown too big for Diners to handle; so, we had to move to another [bigger] place.”
Diners Lounge management, however, says Muhangi breached his contract when he recently left for the USA where he was part of the comedy team that attended the UNAA convention.
During that period, he posted that there would be no comedy until he returned. Diners also says they had various unresolved wrangles over production but Muhangi denies all that.
As such, we waited to see who would pull it off. Muhangi had a massive list of comedians lined up to perform, including Madrat and Chico, Amooti, Mariachi, T. Male, Snake and Zolo, Dikanio, Crazy University and Kobusheshe. To spice it up was DJ Crim, Mr Silverback and Winnie Nwagi.
Diners, on the other hand, had Optional Allan, Napoleon, Mendo and ghetto-president-turned-member-of-parliament, Bobi Wine. Even before the show could kick off, at around 5:30pm, KCCA officials stormed Diners Lounge and confiscated their sound system, citing sound pollution.
But this didn’t faze Diners; they quickly hired new equipment and sorted out the issue with the authorities. This created uproar on social media, many comments suggesting it was ‘political,’ citing the presence of Bobi Wine. Others alleged it was foul play instigated by The 400 Lounge.
I guess we will find out pretty soon. By 8pm, both venues had reasonable crowds, with bands playing. As the clock ticked, Diners proved it could pull a bigger crowd.
Bobi Wine delivered the cherry on the cake with a comical performance, making satirical comments about the recent chaos in parliament and how he was manhandled by security operatives. The crowd cheered him all the way. McVex promised to have the shows every Thursday.
At The 400, the list of comedians became too long for all to perform. Winnie Nwagi wrapped up the night, though the heavens had opened up by then.
Jonathan Kyeyo, the proprietor of Laftaz Lounge, which once hosted all the comedians featuring at both venues at a weekly comedy show, says, “Competition is healthy if it is for the right reasons. It is just a matter of time before we see who will still be standing”.