Ann Kansiime: The story of a funny lucky girl
Posted Saturday, February 16 2013 at 00:00
She is testimony that women can really be funny. Have you watched Ann Kansiime deliver her jokes? If you haven’t, then you probably haven’t had a good laugh in a while, writes Christine W. Wanjala.
It is a cool Thursday morning, but in Ann Kansiime’s world, it is just the perfect day to pay homage to all, or at least most, of the colours of the rainbow. I must add it is all a very tasteful affair completed with a black jacket and black boots.
One of the first things you notice about her is her energy, and amiable nature. In no time, we are chatting like old friends despite never having met before. “I have put on so much weight,” she says in response to a compliment on how the screen does not do her looks justice. Of course, I do not see the weight even if she makes an effort to stand and show me her supposedly fuller figure. Kansiime looks perfectly trim despite saying she does not work out at all.
The age factor
With her carefully put together look complete with impeccable eye makeup, Anne Kansiime looks like a perfect example of a girly girl, which makes her confession a few minutes later about being a tomboy odd. “I just started being a girl. Actually, I am in a phase where I am excited about being a woman so I love anything that makes them appear more feminine. I end up looking like a girl instead,” she laughs,
I think her girlish look is more to do with her very youthful appearance and diminutive size. She could pass for a teenager. “It is a good thing I guess. I am flattered when people think I am younger than I actually am,” she says, then narrates of a lady who approached her back in the Theatre Factory days and advised her to complete high school first. “She was tongue tied when I told her I was in my final year at campus,” says Kansiime,
She attributes it all to heredity (she has been told she is a carbon copy of her mom in her 20’s) and some luck on the side (something she is going to repeat a lot during our interview). So, what is her age? “Come April 13, I will be turning 27,” she says.
Kansiime says she plans to settle down and start a family when she finally starts looking her age. In the mean time, she will be moving ahead with her career. Currently in the studio at Swangz Avenue working on an album, which will be out soon on, of all things, nursery rhymes. “I love children; they are so innocent. I find it unfortunate that there are hardly any songs for children,” she explains. She does an acapella for me and I can already see children in love with the sweet melodious voice.
She was born and raised in Kabale to a now retired banker father and a farmer mother. “My mother grew everything except sweets, sugar and cooking oil,” she says.
When it all started
It was in Bweranyangi Girls Secondary School where she majored in music, scoring a clean ‘A’. In true-blue Kiga honesty, she tells me how she came to Kampala for the first time to attend campus at Makerere University. In her second year at Makerere, Kansiime joined Theatre Factory, the pioneer comedy outfit in Kampala that targeted a corporate audience. She narrates how it happened;
“I had parts in the radio drama Rock Point, with some of the then theatre factory members like Richard Tuwangye and in between recordings, we would sit and just chat. They found me funny and asked whether I would like to go and try my hand at Comedy with them in Theatre Factory.” She did, and they must have loved her performance because she was asked to go back the next week.
Her star has risen over the years, moving with Fun Factory when Theatre Factory split, and becoming a YouTube comedy sensation of sorts. Today, she seems to be all over the place, a thing for which she has but a very simple explanation, “I am now on a daily show with MINIBUZZ, and there is the Go-TV advert, but I was there all along,” she says.
On making people laugh, without fail
Humour does not just come naturally to her, it runs in the family. “I am lucky (there we go again) my mom is a hilarious human being,” says Kansiime of a fact she only came to appreciate only after meeting other people’s mothers who were not so funny. “I had always assumed all mothers were like mine,” says the fourth born of six children.
The comedienne also credits her younger sister who is so funny that she challenges Kansiime. “I am lucky I got into comedy first so she will always be Ann’s sister. I could never have matched up to her if she had got in before me,” she says. No sibling rivalry though, as Kansiime says little sister is most helpful and a big fan. As a performer, Kansiime is not really worried about disappointing her fans, ever. “I had fans long before I became aware of it. I was just too busy enjoying myself on stage,” she says. Fate has also been kind, blessing her with the ability to channel so many characters. For some of her roles, she draws from experience.
“I have been most of the characters I play. A child, a teenager, a student, a girl from the village, a young woman, a Mukiga... okay, maybe not a bow-legged househelp or MP, but a lot of the others,” she says.
On why there are so few females in stand-up comedy who make it big, she says the industry is more difficult for women. “There are jokes male comedians make and people crack up, yet if attempted by a woman, it is frowned upon,” she says, intimating that she has never cracked one of those vulgar jokes despite them being the trademark of some of her male colleagues. This, she attributes to same old “one rule for the hen and another for the cock”, that women should be humble and submissive.
“Being a comedienne means I am judged twice over, as a public figure, and a woman who makes jokes for a living,” she says. Her formula for sidestepping the pitfalls of having to recycle jokes or resort to the vulgar talk is simple. “I become the joke myself. I am lucky (there’s that word again) people enjoy it,” she says.