I would like to think that I have a great sense of humor. If you tell a good joke, you can rest assured that I would bless your efforts with laughter. I do like to wind down and have a laugh with friends and family. But I also prefer to read or watch material that is witty, intelligent, and original. Yep, I do get those sarcastic dry layered (as in not wet) jokes too, like the ones Britons tell.
And I am not just talking about English stand up or mainstream comedians. Watching James Bond movies, you are likely to hear some very witty punch-lines in 007’s dialogues. Like when Q (the weapons expert) was showing Sean Connery how to use one of his new inventions, a bomb alarm clock, which as he instructed “You are not likely to wake up if the alarm goes off.”
Ricky Gervais is hella hilarious as well – that is one of the funniest guys alive. Anyone who has the bottle to insult the cream of Hollywood with hard-hitting jokes at a major awards ceremony, but still get Robert “Raging Bull” De Niro to giggle uncontrollably like a child deserves a pat on the back. Read about the jokes here.
I really enjoy British comedy – I really do. Peter Kay and Graham Norton are beasts. I am not just name-dropping, I actually do watch them. No awards for that. Some Naija people had never even heard of Amy Winehouse, but it was funny to see how quickly they jumped on the twitter bandwagon this past week. Rest in peace Camden Princess.
Me dad was a comedy buff as well as one of the funniest guys ever. He used to tape the Benny Hill Show though he didn’t let us watch it because that dude was a bit dirty (Benny Hill not my dad).
There is a difference between funny and irritating. I used to have my chin in my palms watching “Some Mothers Do Have Em.” Frank Spencer is rather irritating – destructive vandalism isn’t amusing at all. Mr. Bean tries, but I find that the studio audience prompts me to find the comedic value agreeable. Oh, and I don’t think Chris Rock is all that either. His high pitched voice doesn’t equate to funny, though Everybody Hates Chris was a very very good show. It was probably because he just added voice-overs and wasn’t in it. I find Terry Crews a better comic act in films than Chris Rock. There I said it. Print that.
Nigerian comedians have held it down for years. In fact they kept it going when music was having a hiatus and in the pre-Living In Bondage Nollywood years. I remember our mai-guard buying and playing one of those Zebrudaya comedy cassettes, playing it on his transistor deck, and laughing in Hausa-Fulani. Clarus and Gringory were really funny, but Chief Zebrudaya was a cut above in his weird English “Adam and Eve are walk in the nakedness of nude. Are you were.” Or “Fa fa fa foul”
Oke Bakassi is another really hilarious chap. He just says the weirdest things ever, and they come out as comedy gold. In a movie, he was in a beer parlor with his cohorts when policemen came to arrest him. Warning the policeman, he threatened “Officer if you touch anyone here, you will lose your uniform.”
In the movie Endtime, where he played a crooked church agent working for fake miracles pastor Clem Ohameze (Pastor Weaver). During a worship session in church, he pretended that he was an agent from then underworld sent to kill the pastor and deceive his ministry. He was apprehended by the church ushers and brought to the front of the church to be questioned by the powerful pastor. The following exchanged ensued:
Pastor: Who sent you here, demon?
Okey Bakassi: Pastor you are lucky o. I was sent here from hell to come and destroy you but the Satan is a devil sha.
When Okey Bakassi and Nkem Owoh were combined in a movie, it was in the classic Nollywood blockbuster “Pam Pam”. This movie contained more funny parts than Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys. Pam Pam should be archived and placed in the Nigerian National Film Registry (if we have one). Failing that, every Nigerian movie buff should have a copy (original one o).
One of my best scenes was when the 2 guys who played good-for-nothings looking for big money schemes met a set of twin sisters who were from wealthy homes. They chatted the ladies up, so the ladies invited them over.
They were in the ladies’ bedroom chilling and eating ‘chicken’ when the girls’ father suddenly came back home and caught them. Their father was a rich looking, chief character, and was angry to see his pets with 2 unsavory gold-diggers. Okey Bakassi and Nkem started trying to formulate lies. Here was the conversation:
Chief: Young men, what are doing in my house with my daughters. What do you even do for a living?
Nkem Owoh: Sorry sir. I am a carver of hair follicles.
Chief: Carver of what? I will slap you now o
Nkem Owoh: Sorry, I meant that I am a barber
From Nights of a Thousand Laughs to Crack Ya Ribs, we have comedians doing their thing. For a mere pittance, you can watch established comedians perform on a stage, at a show that may start late, and in a hall filled past its capacity that it may constitute a fire hazard. If that isn’t funny, I don’t know what is. By the way AY is really doing something different with his TV show, and the concepts behind it. No resting on elbows.
And comedians are now hired to anchor events. In fact, we have taken a huge step from asking bitter or old school relatives to MC our weddings to hiring boring tribute bands to perform chopped and screwed washed up hits that bore everyone at the reception to now paying for comedians to at least make the business of getting married easier to swallow for all concerned. I have been at weddings where the comedian MC did a good job of making everybody laugh – including the unserved, the jealous unmarried friends, the scorned exes of the couple and even future wicked mother-in-law.
Do Nigerians enjoy comedy because it creates an escape portal from the myriad of problems in our national life? Is comedy the new opium of the Nigerian masses, a bait to stymie our attentions, while crooked politicians laugh all the way to the bank with treasury loot? I think not. I think we do comedy very well because generally we are happy, humorous people. Look around you, get down from your car and take a walk on a Lagos street and you are bound to see enough material for a book, film or blog. To think that this particular blog is centered on ordinary everyday happenings in Nigeria is a moot example. So I wonder why our movies are not more original, and cannot seem to escape the tried and tired themes of boobs for bucks, banal superstition and blackberry babes. Even the actions and inactions of our leaders provide enough material for a quirky comedy if not for a horror movie. I don’t know what is funnier than legislators coming to blows over Ghana-Must-Go bags or a governor’s apologetic plea to Boko Haram.
From Samanja, to Papa Aluwe, to Halo Halo and Fawlty Towers, Nigerian TV has always had comedies. Even when our movies lose the plot generally with the script or storylines or bad acting, they still make you laugh at the pitiful attempt.
However, there is a step Nollywood must take when making comedies. And that is to get the small parts of dialogues right. A lot of the exchanges in our movies are uninspiring and outright flat in delivery. There is no use of wit or sarcasm, to make our storylines build up with dynamism. The monotone, with which some acts drone out their lines, and the unimaginative nature of the script, makes it look like Nigerians in general are simpletons. No, we do get it. People in this country were brought up with some well written comedy shows like Basi and Company, New Masquerade and even Icho Kwu (the one with the Igbo court clerk and oyibo judge). I watched Basi & Company recently and marveled at how well the script was written. Of course it was written by the late playwright – Ken Saro Wiwa. It was original, the characters were deep and interesting and different, and it was funny. Trivia: did you know it had a book series?
Some days ago I was browsing YouTube, looking for the football match where Liverpool were trounced 3 – 0 by a smaller team, when I discovered a video, chronicling all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie punch lines and quips. You know I really like Schwarzzo and was rooting for him even during his recent tabloid quibbles. I have always preferred the Terminator to Rambo (Stallone) even if I must confess that Stallone is the better, more technical actor. However Schwarzzo’s magic is his effortless charm, and the little quips he drops in movies, which are less than the sum of their parts.
Please enjoy this video of the Ex- Governator’s wise-cracks in past movies. Watch for scene 2.11. I enjoyed it…
Finally my take: The funniest guys in the world?
Nigerian – Okey Bakassi, Seyi Law, Alarm Blow, (his face alone), Dauda, John Okafor.
Foreign – Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps, Chris Tucker, Terry Crews, Ricky Gervais, Graham Norton, Mario Cantone, John Witherspoon., Kevin James, James Spade.
Please name yours – and no, Esco does not count. Lol.