Once upon a time, Malawians would gather at different venues in their numbers or tune in to MBC Radio to watch or listen to the hilarious comedies from Izeki ndi Jakobo.
But that was then. Izeki has called it quits and Jakobo is inactive. Stand-up comedy has since slowly but surely been heading for the doldrums.
The few comedians carrying a flickering torch, only appear on stage when they are doing adverts for some companies.
That is why news that Nde'feyo Entertainment intends to revive stand-up comedy to turn comics into a profession should come as a relief.
"Malawians are known for their friendliness and good sense of humour. Our vision is to provide the best relaxed and pleasant moments for the people. Comedy has proved to be one of the avenues for providing these moments," said Nde'feyo co-director Ken Limwame.
"There are already stand-up comedians out there. All they need is an audience and opportunity, so we will ensure that we provide a platform for such comedians," said Nde'feyo co-director Ken Limwame.
Limwame said they have been in touch with a couple comedians that can do the job better and soon will start conducting auditions for those willing to participate in these series.
"Anyone who thinks can make people laugh is free to come for screening through the auditions and for those who can manage video demos will suffice. The series will eventually be packaged in a DVD which will be sold," he said.
But are Malawians ready for such stand up-comedies?
Renowned actor Maxwell Chiphinga says Malawians are ready for stand-up comedy if it is well organised.
Chiphinga, popularly known as Max DC, said there is need to incorporate rural talents in the search for comedians saying talented people are hard to get.
"There is a lot of talent in the rural areas which can make good comedians but the problem is that such talent is unearthed. I believe if that talent is given the same opportunities as their counterparts in the cities, they can perform wonders," he said.
Head of Performing Arts at the Chancellor College Robert Chanukha said Nde'feyo should also strive to train the comedians if their mission is to make any strides, saying artists who go through training benefit a lot in terms of their career development.
"Any talent no matter how great or natural it is, still needs direction and to be nurtured by experts. Education adds value to the inborn talent and opens up one's thinking capabilities," he said.
However Chanunkha said the problem was that most artists do not differentiate between drama and comedy.
"It's sad that anyone who can crack jokes call themselves comedians. There is more in stand-up comedies than mere jokes and artists need to be groomed in all that," he said.
Stand-Up comedy is a dynamic format, and while the logistics of Stand Up comedy are fairly standardized—one comedian performing in front of an audience—the approach a comedian uses to perform jokes is bound only by the limits of his or her creativity.
National Theatre Association of Malawi (NTAM) president Ian Chisekula welcomed the initiative saying it is high time Malawi had professional comedians who can ably present the country on international stage or festival.
"This is a good development towards our effort of taking comedy to greater heights and we are ready to partner with them (Nde'feyo) and work hand in hand. We need comedians who can be on TV or stand on stage not to remind Malawians on how poor they are, but to make them forget that they are poor," he said.
The theatre boss said monetary returns were a demotivating factor for most actors to shun stand-up comedy.
"Since it is a one man show, it is tough for artists to raise resources to organise an individual function because it can be more involving," he said.
Nicra Watts Chikopa, an actress with Bantu Arts Theatre said they were optimistic that the rebirth of stand-up comedy would help to provide formal employment.
"This would be an opportunity for us to make money. Art is supposed to pay us but it is sad that most Malawian artists are living in a miserable life because they lack talent to smell money where there is money," she said.
Nde'feyo is an entertainment company which manages, artists, and publishes music.