So what do Poetry Festivals, Award Shows, Weddings and Fashion Shows have in common? They’re all events where Andrew Manyika has plied his trade as a Poet, Comedian, and MC.
Sometimes referred to as “the Gentleman of Poetry” due to his penchant for wearing 3-piece suits, Andrew has made quite an impact on the local poetry scene since winning his first ever slam. This was the Gauteng Drama For Life Slam in 2011; and he placed second in the DFL National Grand Slam.
Since venturing into performance poetry and comedy, Andrew has taken to stages including the Johannesburg International Motor Show 2011 (for team Mazda); TEDx Johannesburg 2013; The opening of the LAE Gallery; The UJISS Merit Awards 2013; State Theatre: Night of the Poets 2012. He has been extensively involved in WordNSound since 2012, twice being a finalist in their Open Mic League, MCing several episodes of their series, as well as the Inaugural WNS Poetry Awards (For which he was nominated in the category “Perfect Poem”).
Over the years, Andrew has proven himself to be a capable poet and comedian, having performed at Parkers, The Box, Kitcheners, The Comedy Underground and various private functions. His unique combination of skills (poetry and comedy), allows him to lend a fresh perspective to MCing.
Andrew is born again and endeavours to let this shine through in his art. As the holder of a BCom in Marketing Management; and a BCom (Hons) in Strategic Management, Andrew definitely sees himself as an entrepreneur .
We caught up with Andrew in Soweto recently this is what he had to say:
WNS: What is your biggest pre performance / writing quirk?
AM: I yawn. Like, world-swallowing; breath-leaving-body; drawn-out-sigh type o’ yawning. I think it’s my body trying to manage my nerves before getting on stage. I’m cool by the time I hit the stage though. Also, Pastor Rick Warren, whom I really look up to, once said “Don’t stand before man, without kneeling before God”, so I pray before every show.
My biggest pre-writing quirk? I procrastinate…hard.
WNS: What influence does your poetry have on your comedy or visa versa?
AM: Comedians = storytellers; poets=storytellers. So, I view all stage time as an opportunity to learn. I’m constantly learning technique, delivery, and the dynamics of a crowd and how to create or maintain a certain kind of ambience.
The writing processes are different for me. I write poetry for myself, but by it’s nature, I write comedy for the audience.
WNS: How important is your image as a performer?
AM: It’s very important. As a performer, you become the product and it’s promoter. So there are elements to a “product”, one of which is the packaging. It must be appealing to look at you, and you can achieve that by how you dress, hence this year I’ve been seen wrapped in a suit and tie. Next year we’ll explore other forms of packaging perhaps.
Image is also important in terms of what it is that you purport to stand for. People respond to you if they feel you are being genuine, and they respect you if they can tell you are being consistent.
WNS: Why should one vote for the EFF?
AM: The same reason you’d vote for anybody else: if you believe in their policies.
WNS: Slam vs set performances. Your take?
AM: If I understand the question, you’re contrasting “slam” against “non-competitive performance poetry”? if so, I would say everything has its’ place. In general though I prefer pages to stages (of all kinds); but I understand the capacity of live performance in terms of entertainment value and audience reach, and I enjoy It too. Set performances and slam to me, are very much different sides of one face (on one side of the same coin…& I’m being long-winded again).
WNS: What will the history books say about you?
AM: “Andrew Manyika won souls for Christ. He loved words and story-telling and wrote everything from poems to business proposals. He wrote them well. A family man with a high tailor bill (because he had to get his pants shortened a lot) and dry-cleaning bill (from wearing his heart on his sleeve), he challenged, changed and introduced ideas about things…and he was taller in real life than he looks in the pictures.
WNS: If you were in a slam with God, what would your killer punchline be?
AM: “You literally made time to slam with me | put me in the place of Christ, and said I’m your family | I know you paid the price, for this great life you handed me | made me a branch in the Grapevine | slow matured cause soul-saving takes time | so now my stance when I make rhymes | is to speak the Truth, be no pretender | I get that my victory lies in you, so I surrender. We win”
Those lines were actually kind of nice, so I think I may actually use them.