Carl Joshua Ncube – the barrier buster
The name Carl Joshua Ncube evokes varied feelings among comedy loving Zimbabweans young and old. Armed with a silver-tongue, the smooth-spoken gagman is a standup comedian par excellence. When I dropped his name within a circle of Harare college students huddled together in a free Wi-Fi zone, they all giggled with nonchalant abandon as they took turns to mimic some of his popular statements. I asked the youngsters to honestly rate him as a performer and got a mixed bag of responses. Words like funny, original, daring, scary, outrageous, creative and versatile floated above smartphone bleeps and Mohawk haircuts.
It is Carl’s description as versatile that I found most captivating. Indeed the man is gifted in many ways. In May 2011, he broke into the Zimbabwean comedy scene with his debut one-man show, Carl Joshua Ncube’s Big Announcement, setting him up as arguably the best act in his artistic genre. The award winning comedian has since then performed to packed auditoriums in several African countries, the USA and Australia.
Carl is also a gifted animator, writer, producer, director, photographer and most surprisingly a chef! Yes Carl can cook and loves sharing tips and recipes through his visual channel Carl Can Cook.
Born Carl Joshua Tinodavanhu Ncube on 25 May 1979 in Bulawayo to Charles Palmer Ncube and Miriam Nyemba, he grew up in Marondera after his parents divorced. As a result he had to endure a rather nomadic upbringing, moving from one neighbourhood to another in both Harare and Bulawayo. He also had to attend several different schools ending with Prince Edward high School in Harare. It can be argued herein that all these movements in his early life only served to enrich his comedy, giving Carl that all-Zimbabwean flavour loved by his fans at home and in the diaspora. In a nutshell, Carl is a microcosm of what it means to be a Zimbabwean, as he explains in the following video.
On 12 May 2011. The Big Announcement was Carl’s first show. It was a one man affair and he took the opportunity to propose to his long time lover Nelsy Mugadza, in front of hundreds of unsuspecting spectators. Carl finally got married to Nelsy in 2012 and their colourful wedding took place on an island called Coco Cay in the Bahamas. As a qualified nurse, a qualification he obtained from the London South Bank University (1998-2001), Carl has helped deliver a total of 17 babies. Yet as the cruel vagaries of fate would have it, the Ncubes sadly lost a baby when Nelsy suffered a miscarriage in October 2015. However, the massive flow of commiserative messages following the tragic episode is testament to Carl’s colossal fan base.
A simple Google search for Carl Joshua Ncube invariably returns a library of articles, videos and social media links. Sifting through the vast information available online, I have come to view Carl as a barrier buster. Between surmounting a myriad of personal hardships and striving to establish himself as a respected comedian, Carl has broken a lot of barriers. His full name to begin with was made to break language and ethnic barriers especially here in Zimbabwe where geographical provinces are officially named along tribal lines. Carl being Ndebele proudly carries a Ndebele surname, Ncube, which also ascribes him the monkey totem. Yet one of his forenames, Tinodavanhu, is Shona for ‘we love people.’
In the end what elevates Carl Joshua above other Zimbabwean comics is his proclivity for performing adroitly and without effort. He does not try too hard to be suaviloquent yet he still is eloquent whether speaking English, Ndebele or Shona. In this way he connects with people from all walks of life. Carl could go to any country today and dazzle with his facile tongue. Apparently the former nurse through comic relief still remains committed to societal healing. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Today, Carl Joshua Tinodavanhu Ncube is a man with an amazing vision that should subsist even beyond his lifetime. Follow the link below for more details.