My Favourite Game

How Doom, Mario Kart and com­edy de­fine Njambi McGrath


Njambi McGrath is a Kenyan-born co­me­dian and writer, per­form­ing her sharp, one-liner style of stand-up reg­u­larly on the London cir­cuit. She at­tended univer­sity in both London and New York, has an IT de­gree, is flu­ent in three lan­guages and is cur­rently writ­ing a book. What game first got you ex­cited? I grew up in Kenya, so while most peo­ple had all the tech­nol­ogy to play games and all of that stuff – my hus­band, he got the chance to play games in ar­cades – my first game was Snoopy. It was the most un­sat­is­fy­ing game, be­cause he would just walk up to the roof, and then you’d make him sleep… That was the first game I can ever re­mem­ber play­ing. What did you play that on? I don’t know whether it was made in Ja­pan or China or what­ever, but it looked like a very crude ver­sion of a Game Boy. It was just a sin­gle screen. Some­body brought it to school, and it was like, ‘Oh my god, what’s that?’. We played it for ages and ages. I was in board­ing school, and so peo­ple used to bring all sorts of things. We would trade sweets to be able to play games. That’s the only one that I’ve never seen again – I don’t know where they got it from. That was the first game I kind of got ad­dicted to. When did you move from Kenya to the UK? Did you have ac­cess to more games then? I was 18. When I was a stu­dent, I used to work in a cy­ber cafe, and so I had ac­cess to on­line games. There was a guy I used to work with who in­tro­duced me to Doom. Dur­ing breaks we used to play mul­ti­player – shoot­ing the hell out of each other. So he in­tro­duced me to what is quite a violent game! But you know, I think when you’re younger, you don’t ac­tu­ally see the vi­o­lence in the videogame. How did your par­ents feel about that? They are fairly strict – but you know, they wouldn’t even un­der­stand what it is! I guess any teenager, at what­ever age, will al­ways do things that their par­ents can never un­der­stand or com­pre­hend. I don’t think they knew what I was play­ing. Did that ex­tend to when you got started in com­edy? Yeah, they didn’t un­der­stand! What I call non-tra­di­tional for­mat jobs are al­ways sur­pris­ing to African par­ents. When I was grow­ing up, as a girl you had to be a teacher, or a nurse, or a sec­re­tary. So any­thing like com­edy is quite puz­zling. If I was a singer, they would get it, be­cause in church peo­ple sing all the time. But stand­ing in front of peo­ple… And in many cases, the com­edy we had in Kenya was slap­stick, very silly com­edy. So it’s not even just stand­ing in front of peo­ple and try­ing to make them laugh – to them, that’s com­edy. Your style of com­edy is very dif­fer­ent – in­ci­sive and po­lit­i­cal. Who in­spired you grow­ing up? I like the edgi­ness of Joan Rivers. She pushed bound­aries. I like – not to shock, but you know, there are some things that peo­ple say “No, no, you can’t talk about that.” And I like the sharp­ness of Robin Wil­liams, be­cause his style is just punch, punch, punch. A com­bi­na­tion of those two is kind of the com­edy I’ve got, along with my pas­sion for pol­i­tics. Do you still have time to play games?

“You know, I think when you’re younger, you don’t ac­tu­ally see the vi­o­lence in the videogame”

Hardly any. I’ve been fight­ing so hard to fin­ish writ­ing my show, to fin­ish writ­ing my book… I did get into New Su­per Mario Bros and Mario Kart Wii. There are still some el­e­ments of fight­ing but it’s not the re­al­is­tic vi­o­lence of Doom. I have a DS, and we have a Wii. At some point, my hus­band and I just said, in­stead of go­ing to the tennis courts, why don’t we get Wii games and play tennis on the Wii? Which is lame. What, then, is your favourite game? I would have to say Mario Kart. When you’re a co­me­dian, you drive to gigs all the time, and if you’re not care­ful, you’re go­ing to get speed­ing tick­ets. When you’re in Mario Kart, no­body cares. You’re go­ing so fast, and crash­ing… I sup­pose it’s kind of the re­lief of it. I don’t know what it is, I think it’s the speed. Per­haps the slap­stick hu­mour ap­peals, given your roots? Ac­tu­ally, yes – that’s the kind of com­edy we had on TV when I was grow­ing up. Some­body would see a cock­roach and they would be jump­ing on the ta­ble and fall­ing off of it. So yeah, I guess so.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.