Nasra Yusuf is a trailblazer in her own right; she is the first and only female Somali comedienne in Kenya.
She stars on the long-running Churchill Show, where she uses humor not only to entertain but to change the negative perception that some people have of Somalis.
“I use jokes to kill the stereotyping that is associated with us Somalis. I just bring positive vibes to people and just tell that we are a good people,” says Nasra.
According to Nasra, comedy is helping in changing the negative stereotypes associated with Somalis.
“Just by telling the audience that the way they treat us and take us differently is not good, they can go home thinking that this girl talked some sense.”
Nasra says that she has been a victim of stereotyping before when terrorist attacks in Kenya were rampant. She was subjected to a search before boarding a matatu and abused because she was Somali as other passengers boarded without getting frisked.
“As a Muslim, sometimes I am attacked by the way I dress during the show and so on.”
The comedian also opened up about some of the challenges of being a female Somali comedian.
“It’s very rare to find a female Somali comedian because of our strict traditions. We have been taught from a young age that we’re not supposed to stand before men and talk to them, we’re not supposed to laugh in front of men. These are the things that hinder Somali girls from coming out and presenting their talents,” Nasra told BBC.
“There are those who even say that am a girl, I am not supposed to be a comedian and the mentality that we are not supposed to be paid more than a male comedian just pisses me off,” she added.
Nasra also recounted her worst show ever.
“I was in Meru, so scared to ever perform in such a big audience. I cracked the first joke and people did not laugh, then the governor comes in and all the attention is focused on him. I just left the stage but fortunately, the MC returned me on stage and people laughed,” she said.
Nasra is working on a project dubbed ‘Girls are also funny’ to be hosted by fellow comedienne Teacher Wanjiku in March.