There seems to be something fascinating about a man in a suit cracking the best jokes in Namibia. Even better when the suited man has a combination of both jokes and sharp business acumen.
Of course such a punch line sounds like one of those high school crashes with a man dawning a suit and being humorous, but this is a typical script that sums up one of Namibia’s godfathers of comedy, Neville Basson.
Born and bred in Katutura, 44 year old Basson certainly knows how to crack a joke and run a business at the same time.
He has worked for a few media organisations including Trustco Group International and Paragon Holdings, a company owned by his partner in crime, Lazarus Jacobs. He certainly has come of age on the humour side of life, and in business, he now runs his own consultancy of repute.
He has gained popularity for being able to entertain different audiences. In fact if you want one man to imitate former Presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba and their political addictions look no further.
“When I MC for a function I really do not care how high profile it is, I crack jokes, because once in a while we all need laughter in our life. What I really find fulfilling is that after most functions people will walk up to me and say thank you, I had such a bad day and you just made it better. I get a kick out of that and that is why I am still making jokes”.
He knows how to joke about Brazilian hair, Oshiwambo culture, corporate dialogue and political sarcasm. To prove this you just have to spend a day in the room where the comedy master is doing his job.
He still vividly remembers how his classmates and friends would gang up on him every time he opened his mouth. He says a comedian is born, not made.
“One can really go to school to study how to become a comedian. Comedy can be part of somebody’s career if taken seriously. The one thing that I can say is our jokes were all local, and we did not try to Americanize it, and that is how we stole our audience’s hearts, and ever since that, Lazarus and I were on a roll,” he says .
Basson believes that there is a lot of comedic potential in the country.
“I grew up surrounded by so much happiness in my household, very funny uncles, aunts and your odd alcoholic neighbour who says and does much stuff you
Perhaps his rib cracking jokes did not come without a prize, as he admits he used to get a few slaps and was bullied during his primary school days in Sub A (Grade 1). The bullies at school, who did not see anything fun about a good joke, set the tone for starting his comedy career.
“At first you need to be creative, maybe when you get into the game, you might fall into copycatting American comedians. I would like to advise upcoming comedians to please be original as the audience should relate to your jokes. Make it Namibian by not doing so, or else the industry will not grow, ” an ever jovial Basson says.
Besides just being a comedian, Basson also runs a marketing and media company called Raotra Investments. He explains that, “Construction is part of our portfolio,” adding that, “we employ a couple of people in both sectors and there are few charities and sporting teams we support.”
Although Basson is in the public sphere as a comedian, he prefers to keep his business life private.
“Actually, it is kind of funny how people only define me through what I do on stage, I have other things I do too but prefer it being isolated.”
Basson admits that, “Time is moving on very fast, I feel just blessed to be where I am in life currently. I’m in a better physical, spiritual position than I’ve been five years ago. Through God’s grace 50 years will be a blessing.”
Basson advises all young people that, “We live in such a young and beautiful country, sometimes we don’t realise how blessed we are growing up and making a living here. I urge the young people of our country to follow their dreams. We all walked around as snot nosed six year olds, let’s see the potential in all our youth today and support them.”