For a long time, the route into comedy seemed to be gigging in clubs until you get noticed, or writing umpteen specs – again, until you get noticed. It’s not the most inclusive way to break into an industry, which has often felt limited in the voices and stories that are celebrated. However, in recent years, a new wave of funny people have emerged with a sense of freedom in creating comedy content with purely online audiences in mind.
“I love social media because there are no gatekeepers as such, in the sense that if you work in TV or radio, where I initially was trying to break through, there’s one person at the top who has to like what you’re doing. And if they don’t, then you’re not getting a show,” says British-Zimbabwean comedian Munya Chawawa. “Whereas on social media, whether people like it or not, you can continue to put your work out there. You don’t have to email anyone’s PA with your video; you don’t have to submit it via WeTransfer to this enormous portal of showreels. I love the visibility, and I love how the only limit to how far you get with your work is how much of it you make. No one’s ever going to stop you from creating – apart from yourself.”
Chawawa grew up in Zimbabwe and came to the UK when he was 11 due to growing political and economic tensions in the country. For around seven years, he’s been creating comedy videos and sketches, sharing them on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and he now has over a million followers across those platforms combined. Chawawa has become known for tuning into the public psyche with nippy precision and has created a plethora of complex personalities to help him do it. There are characters who dissect world politics, others who call out hypocrisies around racism and classism in the UK, and even some that parody lockdown rulings through RnB classics. With glowing celebrity endorsements and numerous TV appearances, last year also saw Chawawa’s posh drill rapper character Unknown P release his first song titled Piers Morgan, while also signing a record deal with Atlantic.