One-on-One with rib-cracking duo Madrat and Chiko

Ahead of their Tusker Malt-sponsored Nseko Buseko show, the duo sat down with Matooke Republic’s Ivan Juuko to talk about the comedy industry, their private lives and the journey so far.

Five years ago, performing to a small group at a local bar in Mukono, Madrat and Chiko started their comedy journey. The duo rose to stardom earning their first gig at Waikiki Bar in 2015. 

Who are Madrat and Chiko?
Madrat: My real name is Dickson Lubega. I was born 31 years ago to the late Moses Ssebyala and Irene Ssebyala in Masaka but raised in Makindye. I attended St. Kizito Junior School in Mukono and then joined Africana Whiteland College in Mukono now called Seroma Christian School. I did not continue after S4.

Chiko: My name is Frank Mubiru, 29 years old. I was also born in Masaka to Badru Mubiru and Sarah Nakyegye. I went to New African Child in Makindye, Nabuti Primary School in Mukono for Primary 6 and 7 then joined Fairland High School in Mukono for O-Level and Progressive High School in Mukono for A’Level. I did not attend university.

When did the two of you meet?

Madrat: We are longtime friends. We met at Zero-one Bar in Zzana where we both happened to perform. We have been friends since although we only get closer during the performances.

When did you start doing comedy?
Chiko: I did not know I was a comedian when I started because I did not see it in me. I was a drama actor in some group in Mukono for close to four years before a radio job came calling in 2009. I then joined Dunamis FM in Mukono and it was while on radio that I was told people laughed a lot when I was on air. I also worked at Top Radio for a few years before I decided to try out comedy.

Madrat: After S4, I joined Epic mobile sounds as their official DJ and it was where
I learnt how to be an events MC. I partnered with a friend called Baby X with whom we hosted events and with time we were joined by another friend to form the group Malibu Comedians. The name was inspired by Amarula family. We used to do our comedy at Satellite Beach in (Mukono), Total Pub (Seeta), Pride Pub Bweyogerere, Zero-one bar in Zzana, among other places.

How was the beginning as a duo?
Madrat: The beginning was tricky because we were tired of only being based in Mukono. One day we decided to take a taxi to Kampala and our motive was to perform at Theatre Labonita. We used to watch a show on TV called ‘Haha’ and we wanted to be part of it.

We approached Emmanuel Ssebakigye, but unfortunately, he turned us down, saying we could not perform at Labonita since we were local and only performed in Luganda. He said he did not want to work with Luganda comedians because they were obscene. He took us to Waikiki Bar and it was there that he said our performance would determine if we were eligible to perform at Labonita.

Chiko: Our performance at Waikiki was impressive and the crowd requested the organisers to bring us more often. We won our first gig at Theatre Labonita. It was unfortunate that we got misunderstandings with the organisers and left for Laftaz where we signed a one-year contract to perform at the weekly Jazz Comedy Night.

When was your major breakthrough?

When our footage with Comedy Files first aired on national TV and people started coming for our shows to see how Madrat and Chiko looked like in person.

Where do you get your jokes from?

We get our jokes from everyday situations. We can get a joke from this interview with you and you will see people laughing. We get jokes while driving around town and many other everyday situations. We just make sure we keep that third eye to see what everybody else is not seeing.

Your critics say that you recycle your jokes. What is your take on that?

People don’t know that it is hard to come up with jokes. We sit and draft jokes to be used for a week in case we have many events. The people who complain about recycled jokes as far as Madrat and Chiko are concerned are our staunch fans who follow us everywhere. We don’t repeat jokes at the same place, but we will do the same joke at a different place and if they happen to follow us there, they will find the same joke.

You are known as Luganda comedians, have you performed at any corporate events?
Our first corporate event was in 2015 in Mbale. It was a Pepsi event and it opened doors for us. We have since worked with NTV, UAP Insurance and Huawei Technologies, among other corporate companies.

You rarely perform in English. How do you handle corporate events?
There is a saying that, “desperate situations call for desperate measures.” We didn’t complete school and truth be told, our English is not the best but we will speak it when we have to. At most of the events, we are pushed to the wall but at the end of the day we come out of it and smile all the way to the bank.

You performed at last year’s Africa Laughs. Weren’t you scared being among high-calibre comedians?
Like a soldier who works under orders, you never refuse a mission. When you are told to go to war, you have no choice. When we were put on the list for Africa Laughs, it was a trial and error thing but we decided to give it a try, although we didn’t expect great results.

What has kept you together as a duo?
Respect for each other has been key for us. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We get differences but solve them as grown-ups. Our differences are always the same, usually when one of us arrives late for an event.

Which comedian inspires you most in Uganda?
Amooti Omubalanguzi (Amarula Family) has and will always be our biggest inspiration. He is the godfather of Ugandan comedy. He is a legend in the Ugandan comedy industry. We owe much respect to him.

Do you hope to compete on the international market soon?
Absolutely yes. We normally see Nigerian comedians do their thing on the international market and we also hope to do the same. We are soon joining the likes of Trevor Noah and Basketmouth on the international market because we got what it takes.

Do you see yourselves as Uganda’s biggest comedians soon?
Of course, so far we can rate ourselves at 70%. We will absolutely be Uganda’s biggest comedians after our ‘Nsekobuseko’ show tomorrow.

What have you two achieved so far from comedy?
What we can say for now is that we have gotten friends and fame. We cannot disclose the assets we have gotten from this because our fans may think we are bragging or may overrate us and even fail to come for our show but just know we have gotten enough.

Talking about the show, tell us about Nseko Buseko.
It is going to be the biggest comedy show of the year. However, unlike last year, we feel we have come of age and need a bigger and classier venue and we settled for Imperial Royale Hotel. We will treat our fans to a two-hour long rib-cracking performance. We will hold subsequent shows in Mukono at Satellite Beach on Saturday and Tavern Woods in Kabuusu on Sunday. The show will be hosted by Alex Muhangi and will feature performances from Janzi Band as well as other leading comedians. We kindly request all our fans to come and support us.

Why the name Nseko Buseko?

Making people laugh is our job and that is why we chose that slogan Nseko Buseko. If we were pastors we would probably dub our show Holy Holy but unfortunately, we are not pastors. We are simply comedians who make people laugh.