Gista Wasuk: Comedy is more than just making people laugh
Gista Wasuk is one of the highly ranked South Sudanese comediennes. A great Arsenal Football Club fan, her story starts from Yei in present day Central Equatoria State to Arua in Northern Uganda where she grew and studied but as a refugee owing to the ongoing war in her country.
She speaks to SARAH OSMAN about her journey through comedy, why making people laugh is not a laughing matter, and why comedians should offer more than just laughter in their creativity. Quite a mouthful, right.
Sarah: So, who is Gista Wasuk? Is this your stage name?
Gista: No. I have no other name (chuckles). Gista Wasuk is my name. I was born in Yei, which makes me an ‘original’ South Sudanese. Unfortunately, I had to accompany my parents when they moved to Arua in Uganda. I was just a year old at the time. It is in Uganda where I started my education right from kindergarten to university.
Sarah: When did you start doing comedy?
Gista: I can’t really point a particular year for the simple reason that comedy has been in my blood for the longest time. But it is while in primary school that this strong urge came to the fore. Later in life, my friends found me funny and encouraged me to start doing skits for a living. I remember when I joined social media in 2012, I used to write my funny comedy skits for people to read and laugh.
Sarah: Who do you look up to in the comedy industry?
Gista: I draw my inspirations from Eric Omondi of Kenya and Ann Kansiime from Uganda. I grew up watching them on tv and I learnt one or two things from the legends.
Sarah: There are people who bore the hell out of people by not making them laugh, what’s your secret to catching one’s attention, what’s unique about you?
Gista: Whenever I am creating content, I look at two aspects, one being laughter and lesson learnt from it. I am one kind of a comedian who avoids vulgar comedy because many people believe that for one to make others laugh, they must be vulgar, or put differently, sexualize their content in their stand ups. I don’t agree with this.
Sarah: S how many years are we talking about here? Years you have been in the comedy or entertainment industry?
Gista: Professionally let’s say like 2 years thou the journey hasn’t been that smooth.
Sarah: How does Gista handle criticism? I am sure this is something that all creative must live with.
When I was new in the industry, it wasn’t easy at all. I got a lot of criticism since both my parents are pastors. People from the church really talked a lot and looked at my turning point in a negative way. Fortunately, not all joined this bandwagon.
But some went a notch higher, messaging me, urging me to get into something else. But I think people are just mistaken. Comedy is not such a bad thing. We all need to unwind after a long day at work. Somebody must do that, and that somebody is a comedian or other folks’ ion the expansive entertainment industry.
Sarah: How did you treat the negative comments flying around you?
Gista: In as much as there were negative comments from some people, it didn’t kill my morale and love and passion for comedy, this instead transitioned to creating more and more comic skits for my followers on social media because it’s what my heart desired.
Sarah: Out of your online skits, there is a recent creation you posted on YouTube about a pregnant woman with wired cravings. Is there a connotative meaning to this?
Gista: I usually look at my surrounding and see what happens. So, when I came up with that, my aim was to educate. When some get pregnant, they tend to crave for things out of their reach. Some are not exactly cravings, but rather using their status – pregnancy – to achieve some end.
Take an example of a woman craving to read the husband’s Whatsapp text messages. Or they sometimes order for stuff that can’t be located at that particular time. The moral of this skit is to show what men go through in the hands of their expectant women. Men should not be burdened unnecessarily either financially, emotionally or psychologically by their expectant partners. Save for genuine cases, men should be accorded the respect they deserve and not to be taken for a ride simply because they are responsible.
Sarah: How do you balance your time between family, work and comedy?
Gista: I am an 8:00-5:00pm worker, once I’m done with work, there’s time for everything. In my free time, I create content, plait hair as a side hustle, I analyze sports too at the radio station. Basically, there’s a handful of things I engage with but make sure I allocate time for each because work without play, and rest makes Gista a dull child. Comedy needs consistence, I make sure in my capacity I keep up to standard by at least producing stuff for my fans almost every week.
Sarah: Any challenges encountered?
Gista: from the time I started comedy till now, I haven’t gotten any as yet because everyone seems welcoming to the extent of them sharing my videos on their respective social media handles hence leading to the growth of my pages, some even feature me in their music videos like the Hardlife Avenue Stars.
Sarah: What achievements are you proud of this far?
Gista: The greatest achievement I ever got was recognition from my fans who keep encouraging me, some even gift me as a result of the motivation, lesson learnt from my skits. This brings peace and joy to my heart. Asa social worker, it’s very good to make someone relieved from the stress and trauma they go through.
I mostly concentrate on educative skits and upload them on social media. It’s high time I also did standup comedy because there are those who prefer seeing you physically than just watching on social media given the fact that internet is now expensive.
Another achievement I got was signing an endorsement deal with a tour and travel company. This makes me even work harder.
Sarah: about the sports part, it’s rare to see a lady love football like you in South Sudan. Where does the love for football commentary come from?
Gista: I started supporting Arsenal when I was just 13years old. I used not to miss any football game. With the guidance and help from my brothers, my love for football even grew bigger. Female sports analysts motivate me so much that I followed their steps and I have never regretted because I love what I do. I sometimes get so emotional whenever my team loses, and it worsens when people keep tagging me on social media but at the end of the day it’s just a game.
Sarah: Are you taking comedy as a career or it’s just for fun?
Gista: Professionally, I am a social worker and do comedy for fun but for as long as what I do touches hearts and heal them then am certain I will do it even more.
Sarah: Any message to the young girls
Gista: They should do what their hearts tell them. Parents should also help in uplifting these children’s talent because you never know they might be the next big thing in the country. Parents should make sure they give their children proper guidance because at the end of the day, praises are all showered unto them.