Fun Factory turn to drama

If there is one thing Fun Factory has carved a niche out of, it is making Ugandans laugh. The group founded after a breakaway from Theatre Factory has over the years become the first family of skit and situational comedy on stage and later TV.

It is said it was the Covid-19 lockdown that got Ugandans stranded at home for months and later years that got many realising the value of art.

When content buyers had to choose content to buy, in the case of MultiChoice Uganda’s DStv, Fun Factory became one of the companies they considered and indeed, Mizigo Express has been a hit on both Pearl Magic and Pearl Magic Prime.

Last week, DStv Uganda, through their flagship local content channel  Pearl Magic Prime collaborated with Fun Factory yet again and launched a police drama, Popi. 

Set in a fictional state of Zuganda, the show takes place at a Popi (the name for police) station. Starring familiar faces such as Dickson Zizinga, Tindichebwa Mustafah, Evelyn Kemizinga, Richard Tuwangye and a number of guest actors.

Like their famous Mizigo Express, Popi takes place in a single location, at least per the two episodes. Everything starts and ends at this police station, of course in their conversations they talk about different things that happened in the field but the cameras stay at the police station.

Kemizinga, famous for portraying Mulokole in Mizigo Express, shows up as the OC of the police station, she has just assumed the post when the show starts and thus there are challenges from all angles, some are from within the police station, the surroundings and then others from her home. Apparently she has since forgotten that she is a mother and wife.

Then there is a sergeant in Tindichebwa, she seems fascinated by a young boy whom  her partner at work wants nothing to do with, Zizinga is Kabanda, a crime monger who steals from other people’s cars to stalk his spare parts shop and many other characters who will soon be unveiled.

Popi premiered on Pearl Magic Prime a few weeks ago, though it was last week during their weekly Comedicine shows that they launched the show at the National Theatre. 

What makes Popi different though is that unlike Mizigo Express where comedy drives the message, Popi is hellbent on the message and the story, in other words it is a drama show where comedy is not the main meal but a relief. This means that the show is a very big shift not for only Fun Factory but for the audience as well. For instance, for the first time, we have a Fun Factory show where there seems to be consequences in the actions of characters, there are sacrifices and some scenes are even intense, which rarely happens with comedy shows.

Though, when the funny parts come through, they land at the right time.
Popi was last month nominated for Best Original Comedy Series in the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards that will be taking place in Nigeria later this year. Other Ugandan shows nominated include Prestige, Kan See Me, Junior Drama Club and films Tembele and Sixteen Rounds. With 17 nominations overall, this is the biggest number of nominations Ugandans have received from the awards held in Nigeria every year.