Zim comedian faces moment of truth in US

Jonasi, born Learnmore Mwanyenyeka, sees his move to the US as a launchpad to his acting career, more so, his dream of being a Hollywood actor.

MULTI-AWARD-WINNING comedian and actor Learnmore Jonasi, formerly known as Long John, faces a moment of truth when he performs at the famous Apollo Comedy Club next Thursday.

The Chimanimani-born comedian is currently in the United States courtesy of support from the Steel City Arts Foundation. He is using this opportunity to perform stand-up in comedy clubs across the US.

Despite having carved a niche for himself as a stand-up comedian in South Africa where he was staying over the years, Jonasi, born Learnmore Mwanyenyeka, sees his move to the US as a launchpad to his acting career, more so, his dream of being a Hollywood actor.

For him, an opportunity like performing at the Apollo Comedy Club brings with it bright prospects for the youthful comedian.

To him it’s a dream come true.

“It’s something that every upcoming comedian yearns for,” Jonasi told Standard Style from the US on Thursday.

“Apollo Comedy Club is a big platform one needs to grab with both hands and I am excited that opportunity has come.”

Jonasi will feature at Apollo Comedy Club on a show titled Africa Now that is being hosted by fellow Zimbabwean and US-based comedian Alfred Kainga.

He will share the stage with Karmen Naidoo and Quadir Yussuf.

“It’s quite exciting and the host Alfred Kainga has been in the game for a long time performing at different clubs across the US,” Jonasi said.

“A lot of big names in the world of comedy have performed at the Apollo Comedy Club and this really motivates me.”

 The Apollo Comedy Club has a long history of launching the careers of countless legendary artists and performers in a variety of genres, including comedy.

Comedic legends such as Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Monique, Jamie Foxx and Jackie Mabley, aka Moms, have all delighted audiences from the Apollo stage.

A People’s Choice Award winner in the Steve Harvey’s Stand Up Spotlight competition in 2019, Jonasi has achieved so much on the regional and global stage.

Early last year he came second at The World Series of Comedy Competition hosted at The Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta.

The youthful comedian has also won a number of accolades including the National Arts and Merits Award Oustanding Comic gong and Savanna Pan African comic Award.

His desire is to win more and use his influence to tell the African story.

“I want to use every opportunity I get on global level to tell the African story,” Jonasi said.

“I would like to tell that story of a village boy in the US.

“I want to create our own African stories.”

The comedian was looking forward to setting up a foundation that caters for upcoming comedians.

“I want to build our own industry by starting a foundation that supports young actors and comedians,” Jonasi said.

On his future, Jonasi said he was setting his eyes on Hollywood.

“It’s everyone’s dream to be in Hollywood,” he said.

“If I work very hard, I think I can make it and be a global film star.”

Stand-up comedy continues to grow bigger and bigger in Zimbabwe producing some of the best comics in Doc Vikela, Carl Joshua Ncube, Comic Pastor and King Kandoro, among others, and Jonasi  believes Zimbabwe has versatile comedy talent.

“I believe in Zimbabwe and we have raw talent and with the way we casualise everything in Zimbabwe by making fun of our diverse issues and circumstances, comedy has a ripe atmosphere to propagate and plays a pivotal role in our lives,” he said.

“I would love to revive comedy in Zimbabwe, but I can’t do it alone.

“We need a selfless collective approach as comedians and to come up with strategies such as creating more platforms for new comics to develop, fostering commercial buy-ins so that the industry is sustainable.”

Jonasi, who broke into the South African comedy circuit a few years ago and performed at prestigious events and venues such as Oppikkopi Festival, Park Acoustics, Mieliepop Festival and Jo’burg Theatre, among others, took time to share his treacherous journey from being a mere rural boy in Chimanimani to a global star.

“Well, it has been unbelievably amazing and at the same time, it has been a skills-amassing trajectory because being a travelling comic has always been my dream ever since,” he said.

“I’m just a village boy from Chimanimani and my peculiar story has thrilled my audience always, creating curiosity within my audience who have no clue that there is such a place.”

Kainga, who hosts the show on Thursday, could not be reached for comment, but in a recent interview with Standard Style, reiterated the need to create opportunities for upcoming Zimbabwean comedians through global platforms.

For Jonasi, on Thursday he faces a moment of truth.  


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