“We Used to Perform for Plain Chips”—Bugingo Recounts Journey to Comedy

Hannington Bugingo is one of the most prominent comedians in Uganda today.

He is also a focused family man with numerous businesses across Kampala.

Bugingo is a member of the popular Fun Factory group that does stints and operations at the National Theatre.

The renowned comedian talked to Bridget Nanteza about his career, marriage and more.

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Bugingo Hannington, I grew up from Namuwongo, Central Zone in a family of five children.

My mother was a business woman and my father was a retired Reverend. We are three boys, two girls and am the last born.

Your education background…


For my nursery and primary I went to Kiwuliliza Nursery School, Bulinga Primary school in Fortportal, Hindocha primary school in Bugiri and Namalembe primary school in Iganga.

I went to St.Leo’s college Kyegobe for my O’level and Lubiri SS for my A’level.

I later enrolled into Makerere University where I did a bachelor’s degree in Music Dance and Drama.

Why so many schools in primary, were you so stubborn?

Hahaha no. My mother having been a business lady she used to travel a lot so she used to take me with her wherever she went.

Should we call you a mummy’s boy?

Not necessarily, actually our first born is mummy’s boy. Our mum used to move with me because I was the last born and she wanted me to study.

Around that time in Namuwongo, kids used to over drop out of school because of bad influence so my mother moved with me all the time to make sure I stayed in school.

How was it like growing up?

I spent most of the time with my mother on the road traveling on business trips.

I remember she started involving me in her businesses, I used to help her buy and measure maize for her.

Share with me your career  journey

I am a comedian at fun factory. I started comedy way back in 2003 when our then lecturer in the drama class at Makerere University, Phillip Luswata, recognized our talent and took us to theatre factory.

We did rehearsals for a long time, about 4 months, because we barely knew what to do. By then comedy was not yet recognized in Uganda so we started from scratch.

How were comedy shows those early days?

We started acting from TLC. Those days Ugandans never believed in comedy so we performed to empty chairs on several occasions.

The payment we could receive was plain chips after performing.

Why choose this career path?

I did Drama at University because they gave it to me on government sponsorship.

I was even almost changing the course but I saw many opportunities from it.

How do you write scripts for shows?

We never come with a written script, each one of us is responsible for coming up with two stories per week.

Incidences that take place in day today life, funny or not, then we discuss about it, make it interesting and the director for the day writes it down for performance.

Do you ever forget lines on stage?

We never have written out lines to use on stage, we always come up with our own lines.

As long as I know the flow of the story and the plot, it is up to each one of us to come up with lines on stage in connection to the plot.

What does it take to become a comedian, talent or education?

Talent is very crucial when it comes to comedy. Education only helps to polish you up but talent takes you places.

We were many students in drama class but few of us have made it in this industry. Anyone can act though; it is easier than making people laugh.

What challenges have you faced in this industry?

In the beginning people never believed in me. People never take me serious yet we are professionals and serious people too.

Many people also do not respect what we do, they are always telling us to make them laugh even where it is not necessary.

Any achievements?

Comedy made me what I am today. It gave me a name; people know me because of comedy.

It gave me a brand name that got me my first advertising job. South Africa also gave me a job due to comedy.

What else do you do besides Comedy?

I am a businessman, I am into construction, I have excavation machines, I supply products among others.

How do you juggle all those businesses with comedy?

The secret is to work smart.

Why did you leave Metropolitan Republic?

I left because I wanted to be self-employed. I had a lot on my plate so I could not handle my personal business while being employed.

Advertising companies mostly hire comedians! What is the connection?

Comedians are very observant people; they take note of everything in their surroundings which is a quality in advertising.

Their lifestyles, attitudes make them the best advertisers worldwide.

How is marriage life?

I am married to Esther Mirembe Bugingo and we are blessed with 4 children.

I have found marriage simple and easy simply because I got someone who compliments me.

Today marriages fail because couples try to change each other to who one wants the other to be which is wrong.

Are you telling us that marriage is a bed of roses?

Hahaha of course not! Marriage has so many challenges especially when kids come in the picture but we always work them out.

Does your wife attend your shows?

She used to come back then but now she comes once in a while due to kids and tight schedules.

How do you handle female fans that come to you?

I handle them professionally. I don’t be rude to them because I need them as fans so I do it in such a way that we still remain friends.

What attracted you to your wife?

Her calmness and patience because I am exactly the opposite of those things.

Any marriage advice to today’s youths?

It is good to find someone you love and settle with them instead of going from one partner to another.

Blessings come to you when you take responsibility and settle down.

When was your turning point?

When I started advertising. It made me view things in a different perspective and it also gave me exposure.

Worst moments?

When my kids are sick it really traumatizes me.

What pisses you off most?

I hate people who are not straight forward.

How do you all manage to stay united as comedians at National theatre?

The beauty of it all is that most of us were classmates back at school so the connection is deep.

We disagree as normal people but we settle our differences immediately.

Then I guess scandals amongst yourselves draw you apart sometimes…

Relationships among coworkers kill relationships but we are at an advantage because our company policy doesn’t allow that.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Richer than how I am today.

What are your weaknesses?

I am an extremely impatient person.

Your best dish?

Rice and beans.

Do you pray?

I am an Anglican and I do pray a lot. Even when I have hang over, my wife drags me to church she is so strict when it comes to that.

What advice do you give young people who want to join the comedy industry?

They must have the love and passion. Today young people are more after money which is wrong, hard work comes first.

Thank you for your time.

You are welcome

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