It is said that good things come in twos. In the case of Propesa Comedy Group however, fans are more than happy to accommodate this double portion of the comedy quartet that has become an online sensation.
First of all, Propesa is a Kalenjin corruption of the word ‘Professor’, a name the group chose because they could comment on just about anything under the sun…just like a Propesa, sorry, Professor, would.
The comedy group is made up of four boyhood friends – Kiprono Ruto (Larry Matayo/Jopiri) 23, Kipyegon Too (Chemosi) 26, Dennis Kipyegon (Ptangus) 20, and Kimutai Rono (Propesa) 25.
Their roles are clear cut. Jopiri is the reporter and camera man. Chomosi and Ptangus are the creatives while Propesa does the talking.
Comedians are born and brought up on television, but the Propesa Comedy Group is using the online platform to sell their comedy. Specifically, they post short audio and video skits on their Facebook page, in which they comment on just about anything; politics, domestic and national issues, football, and lately athletics.
The skits always go viral. Among the latest online skits is Propesa Road to Rio, which features Kenyan ‘athletes’ admitting to doping allegations ahead of 2016 Olympics.
It amusingly evokes discussions around the challenges athletes go through in expressing themselves (In English) before international media.
Propesa, a trained journalist, previously worked as a radio reporter for Kass Fm. We met for a chat with the quartet:
Who exactly is Professor? Any PhD?
Propesa: Propesa, and not professor as you pronounce it, is composed of four guys: Chemosi, Jopiri, Ptangus and I. In a nutshell, we do crazy stuff to pay rent and tax. Due to the lead role I have in the team, people call me Propesa. Oh, you asked if I have a PhD. I am still searching, this is what brought me to Nairobi.
Where and when did you begin?
Larry Mataya/Jopiri: We did our first recorded comedy audio piece sometime last year; it was a pro-Manchester United “prayer”. We recorded it using a cell phone and sent it to a friend via WhatsApp. After two days almost everyone in Rift Valley had listened to it.
I say that because our grandmother at Kaporuso village in Bomet listened to it, yet the roads there are so bad, so news travels at a snail’s pace. ur friends asked us to do more audios and videos, which we did and then posted online.
Tell us a little about your education background.
Propesa: We studied in different secondary schools in Kuresoi and Bomet. Chemosi studied Media studies at Egerton University while Larry and I studied Information Technology at Rift Valley Institute of Technology. Ptangus completed Form Four last year. We are all currently co-hosting a show on Chamngei FM every weekday from 1 to 4pm.
Do you get reactions from the leaders you mimic?
Chemosi: They are all happy. Isaac Ruto thinks and maintains that Propesa group is a devolved function, so we should be based at home in Bomet. Being our governor, he is passionate about local affairs and the youth. Senator Kipchumba Murkomen says we are a function of the national government. We met him at his office early September this year. Like our president, he is open to ideas from the youth. As it is, we are wondering whether to go national or remain in in the grassroots. That said, we are happy with what we do.
You record on phone. Why is this so?
Propesa: We have always used a mobile phone for all our recordings, audio and video, since it was the only available gadget we had at the time. We don’t have a camera.
As unbelievable as it sounds, our first audio was recorded without any rehearsal, yet it took off. Mobile phone has brought us this far. Now we are here. I need to mention that we have had a live recording at Vila Rosa Kempinski, among other prominent venues.
Apart from press conferences, what else do you stage?
Ptangus: We have done other entertainment pieces, and more are in the pipeline. We have for instance staged prayers for Obama’s visit and teachers’ 50-60% salary increment. We are also invited to various functions to entertain guests.
Where do you see yourselves in the next five years?
Propesa: Here in Kenya. We will be on TV often and we will certainly not be walking to where we need to go. In fact we’ll be causing traffic jams. Eventually though, we want to grow and nurture comedy in Rift Valley so others can pick it from there. Not all of us can run.
Can a non-Kalenjin understand your skits?
Jopiri: We deliver our message in a creative way. A ‘native’ Kalenjin will speak naively, you will find him being ‘helped’ to express himself in Swahili or English. A fan from South Sudan recently called us to say he enjoyed a certain clip. We have all Kenyans in our mind, no one will be lost.
Where can you be found?
Chemosi: On the streets of Nairobi walking. Also find us on Facebook and YouTube – simply search Propesa.
Propesa: In most events that we get invited to, fans actually cannot believe that we, indeed, use mobile phones to record. On seeing our cameraman take video on phone, some curious ones approach us afterwards and ask where we hide our ‘real’ camera. It is humbling to know that what we produce is of good quality though we can do better. Whatever you want to venture into, use what you have, the rest will come along.