Kampala, Uganda | AGNES NANTABA | Daniel Omara, is an actor, Television and Radio host but he is best known as a stand-up comedian, a job he started nine years ago.
When he started, he was still a student at Uganda Christian University Mukono pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts with Education in English and literature.
Since his childhood, Omara says he has always been a comedian but serious comedy started at theatre Labonita where he braced the stage for auditions with colleagues like Patrick Idringi alias Salvador and Alex Muhangi.
Perhaps, he says, this might explain why he has an attachment to the place.
“Theatre Labonita is the place where I first stood on stage for comedy auditions,” he said. “There were over 100 empty chairs and the target was to make them all covered with people and ensure that they are all happy”.
His signature dress code, a combination of a black shirt, red trouser and grey shoes would be the first to impress the growing crowd. That would be the beginning of his nine-year long career.
Eventually, he made it to the competitions and as a result landed a slot with Stand Up Uganda comedy group, as one of the proprietors.
The group later started Crackers and Mic Checks until they broke up in 2012. But close to a decade later, Omara says, his plan of building an international market for Ugandan comedy has been realized as him and many other comic stars have graced both national and international platforms.
It is not just a job—since his childhood, Omara, the sixth of the seven children of Julius Jasper Pkwiiyulli and Rose-Mary, born and raised in Kampala, has always been a comedian.
“Even as a kid, I was always told that I was funny,” Omara says, “I had the most random opinions.”
As a pupil at Shimoni Demonstration School and Green Hill Academy, Omara was always the crazy one.
His comic character would later grew into a passion for poetry, which he says, guides his work life today.
Omara also says his character explains what he describes as “academic nomadism” that saw him walk through the gates of seven schools before completing Ordinary and Advanced Level education. He eventually completed high school at St Lawrence.
Along the way, Omara sought a break in comedy in 2012 and joined Urban TV, doing ‘Business Unusual’ until he made a u-turn in 2014 with Comedy Files.
“That was after understanding what the industry wanted,” he said, “It was also a wakeup call for other comedians to up the game”.
Three years later, the group is still running. But Omara is not just an ordinary comedian; he seeks to address social issues and educate people in a simple way. The educative messages, he says, are embedded into comedy, after observing normal happenings, edited through a set of like two to five minutes pieces tested on an audience. If the tested version exceeds a certain potential, it is taken on for the bigger audience.
As for comedy in Uganda as a whole, Omara is not happy that the industry is largely dependent on musicians’ following.
“It is injustice to the industry that has stood the test of over nine years,” said Omara. “We should focus more on building an audience for comedy as opposed to relying on the music audience to indicate industry progress”.