I’m a Regular Comedian (in Uganda)

I love to laugh. I love to make others laugh. I am no Jerry Seinfeld but I do enjoy just trying. Just ask my wife Brooke. She has to put up with my silly antics. But usually I prefer people laugh with me instead of at me.

Here in Uganda I seem to make people laugh a lot. I feel like Jerry Seinfeld when I go out into public. At least I imagine him telling jokes left and right and everyone falls down laughing. He would be like a drive by joke teller leaving a wake of laughter wherever he goes. I mean doesn’t he enter a 7-11, drop a joke or show his fusilli Jerry, and walk out with his big gulp to the sound of laughter?

Why fusilli? Because Jerry is silly.

Why fusilli? Because Jerry is silly.

So the fact that I make Ugandans laugh is a good thing. I think. I hope. But every time a Ugandan laughs it isn’t at a funny joke or quip. It is just when I speak. It is when I greet someone, order a soda, or generally open my mouth.

Just the other day I walked up to a shop keeper and asked for a Mountain Dew. She put her head in her arms and was laughing so hard. This is the kind of reaction I want from my wife when I tell jokes. Even a sympathy laugh will go a long way. But this is not the kind of reaction I want when I order a soda from a stranger.

So what’s the deal with me being funny? It’s not because I have spinach in my teeth. I don’t eat spinach, so I am sure. It’s not my jokes, because I am not telling any. And besides I am not Jerry Seinfeld who must ooze comedy and even his serious things are funny.

All I am doing is speaking Luganda. I try to greet, and order, and speak in the main language here in Kampala. While ordering in Luganda, I have yet had anyone tell me, “No soda for you. Come back one year.” But I do imagine I am butchering the language. Steaks, chops, ground meat, and other various cuts of the language are left lying around when I am done. But this can’t explain it all. People are genuinely surprised to hear a mzungu (white person) speak their language. I am genuinely surprised that they are surprised.

Me and my comedy instructor...I mean language instructor.

Me and my comedy instructor…I mean language instructor.

All of this laughter is actually encouraging because it means they are not used to foreigners speaking their language. This means that if I can even speak a little of the language then it will give me a unique opportunity to proclaim the gospel. I can take being laughed at for the sake of Christ.

I will remain an unintentional comedian here in Uganda because I will continue to speak (that is try not to butcher) Luganda. As a matter of fact, I challenge Jerry Seinfeld to a comedy duel on the streets of Kampala. I could give him a run for his money. Oh, who am I kidding; he just says something and then yada yada yada you are laughing uncontrollably. But at least I have some insight into how Seinfeld lives.

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One comment

  1. Hooray! Part of truly knowing a a place and the people who inhabit that place is learning the culture and language of those people. You are contributing to defying how the world thinks about Americans.

    What do you call a person who speaks many languages? MULTILINGUAL
    What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages? BILINGAUL
    What do you call a person who speaks just 1 language? AMERICAN

    Keep working to ensure that one day people just don’t get it.

    Love ya!

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