Every class has at least one, that one funny person who never fails to always have their colleagues and teachers cackling endlessly at their mirth.
After school some funny folk get ‘serious’ and bury their funny bone, while others become that girl at the office who cracks jokes at the tea urn, or even that uncle who has jokes for days.
Others, like Alfred Kainga, literally laugh all the way to the bank and make a career out of tickling people’s funny bones.
The Zimbabwean-born funny man has been putting grins on American faces since the early 2000’s when he relocated to Dallas, Texas.
Alfred counts making it into the finals of the Shaq All Star Comedy Competition and the finals of the Funniest Comic in Texas in a single year as the highlight of his career to date.
"Even though I didn't win either competition, the exposure opened major doors for me and solidified my status as a true stand-up comedian," he says.
Despite having over a decade of experience, Alfred still finds it surreal when he shares the stage with some of the giants of comedy that he used to watch on television back in Zimbabwe.
"People that I used to watch on TV and admire have become so close to me it still trips me up" laughs the jovial comedian.
PIC: Alfred on stage | picture courtesy of ALFRED KAINGA FACEBOOK PAGE
To date he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Mark Curry, Rudy Rush, Capone the Gangsta of Comedy, Rob Stapleton and Robert Powell among a host of other mainstream American comedians.
Alfred describes the comedy scene in Dallas as being very strong, diverse and competitive, where on any given night at an open mic, there could be over 25 different comedians getting on stage.
"Being in such an environment has made me a strong comic. I have learnt a lot too," he says.
Though Alfred now gets weekly bookings in Dallas at the famous improv comedy clubs or hits the road to perform in other cities, at one stage he had to pay his dues by performing in less glamorous venues.
"When I first started comedy I would perform anywhere a show was organised because as a comedian still starting out, no comedy club books you until they feel you are ready and that can take years," revealed Alfred.
Having spent his childhood in Zimbabwe, laughing at and making Zimbabwean jokes, Alfred says adapting to American humour wasn't as difficult as one might expect.
"Growing up in Zimbabwe in the 90's I grew up watching plenty of American sitcoms such as Sanford and Son, Martin, Living Single and many others, so I had an idea of what is considered funny here," he says.
On how he got to be called ‘Alfred the Alley Cat’ he said, "When I started doing stand-up comedy in America I felt like I needed a cool catchy name to grab people’s attention, so a buddy of mine came up with The Alley Cat.”
However, he has since reverted to his government name and commenting on this he said,
"I have grown in the comedy game and wanted to be recognised by my real name and my brand of comedy which is more than just a gimmick."
Describing himself as a born comedian/entertainer who always enjoyed making people laugh from a very young age, Alfred says it was at Prince Edward School where his ‘comedic fire’ was kindled.
Thereafter it became a ‘burning desire’ for him to make a career out of comedy.
“I always wanted to make comedy a career and when I found out how much money I could make I said sign me up!"
Though Alfred says he derives his material from observing people around him, news and other current affairs, he says that some of his best comedy comes from his personal life experiences.
"If it’s a negative experience I turn it into a positive one to bring laughter out of it all.
"A lot of people don't realise that being a comedian is not just about telling jokes and being funny.
"It's a lot of hard work, planning and research.
"The writing, the practise that goes into it sometimes takes months of preparation just to be able to deliver in an hour," Alfred reveals.
Though most subjects are fair game for a lot of comedians, Alfred still has ‘no-go-areas’ which he believes should never be joked about.
"I will not joke about religion or rape because I believe there are plenty more subjects out there to make people laugh and I use those.”
Alfred’s career hasn't always been about sold out performances and rubbing shoulders with celebrities, during a particular dry spell, he hung up his mic in frustration for a couple of years.
"At that time I had allowed some doubts to creep in and thought I was wasting my time because I hadn't achieved my goals.
"I lost two years of comedy but thank God, I was able to bounce back even stronger and more determined to succeed.
"The comedy game is all about being patient while working to prepare yourself for that big break.
"Sometimes it takes longer than others but if you put yourself in a position to win it will happen eventually," he says.
Asked about how he handles an unresponsive crowd, Alfred says that thorough preparation and practising his routine at open mic events has ensured that he never has to deal with an audience dozing off or not laughing.
"Poor preparation promotes poor performance so I believe in proper preparation."
Asked on how he would handle hostile crowd throwing missiles on stage, he said, "A crowd is only hostile if the comedian is not funny or is offensive.
"If you bring the funny you won’t have that issue.
"If they every throw something at me which has never happened, I will be sure to throw it back, unless it’s cash if course," says Alfred tongue in cheek.
On what he thinks about Zimbabwean comedy he said, "I tip my hat off to cats like Carl Joshua Ncube, Q Siziba Dube, Michael Kudakwashe and Doc Vikela for bringing stand-up comedy to mainstream Zimbabwe and showing that Zimbabweans like to laugh," he says.
Kainga also revealed that his immediate goal is to film and produce his own DVD comedy special as well as embark on a UK/Africa tour.
"It’s been a long time coming but I feel like I'm ready for it now. My ultimate goal is to become one of the best comedians to ever grace the stage.”
Kainga closed off his interview with the Zimbo Jam by advising upcoming comedians.
"If you want to be a stand-up comedian remember to be funny. Just be funny and your recognition will come later. Fans don't lie, they will tell if you killed it or not!”