Usually when people tell you they are watching comedy, the assumption is that they are clutching at their tummies, laughing their behinds off, and cracking up at hilarious jokes and funny stories. Most of the time, this is actually the truth. I am notorious for spending hours on end on Comedy Central and BBC Entertainment because I consume humour in unbelievable chunks. I know many people like me who will even skip meals, work and sex for some old school humour.
With this in mind, it goes without saying therefore that when someone mentions comedy, I am usually keen to find out how much rib hurting I should brace myself for. With extreme sadness and untold disappointment, I have had to sit out so many shows and acts because they fall short of what comedy is about. Now, while I appreciate that the Ugandan Entertainment industry is growing in leaps and bounds, I am somewhat taken aback by the nature of our comedy.
Before anyone can start any unfunny jokes about this, allow me to explain myself.
Stand Up Comedy
Recently a friend volunteered to take me to a local stand up comedy show so I could be able to enjoy a few laughs at the cost of few thousand shillings. Anybody who knows me well knows that I am one to generously spend on anything as long as it has humour or music. And if someone else is paying for the ticket, heck Yeah! When we got to the comedy show I was of the impression that no matter how little my sense of humour was, I would still get in a few laughs here and there. And Yes – I did get in a few laughs here and there. However, along the way I noticed that a good number of our local comedians survive on jokes that border on talking down other people. Tribal jokes seem to be a very vital part of the acts of many comedians in Uganda – which is a bit unfortunate. It can be understood that certain tribes are a definite soft target with all the stereotypes going around. However, this is no reason for anyone to build their career on the apparent misgivings, failures or insufficiencies of other people. Now I know some of the funniest jokes involve stepping on a toe here or bruising an ego there but if all one ever does is talk down other people, don’t they cease to be funny?
TV Shows in Uganda are pathetic; ok not all of them, some. True, we have a fairly young industry that is still working its way up and trying to establish itself as a formidable force in the Entertainment industry. However, we do not do ourselves any justice by continuously churning out bogus, uninteresting and over recycled shows on TV. Without necessarily naming any names, anyone can flip through the various TV Station channels in Uganda and get infuriated by the quality (or lack of quality) of the shows we are airing. While we do not have too much local content to go around on the TV stations, it makes sense for us to make sure that the little we have is of sound and legitimate quality. One of the reasons why our stuff seems to suck is because we are not so keen on little finer details. The other day I was watching a supposedly funny show that got me wondering why we even bother with these shows to begin with. The person hosting was too plastic, the comedy was too flat, the sound was over the top and the entire show seemed too artificial. And maybe it is just me who only looks for negatives but I’d like to think that we can do better – much better.
Let’s face it – everyone on social media has a sense of humour. Some have the original slapstick, everyone-is-wowed, take-me-to-bed-when-you’re-done humour while others have the occasional drops here and there; everyone has the capacity to wow the crowd. The problem comes when someone gets a raving review on one or two posts and then suddenly they feel like they are the comedian sent by the Lord Jesus to save the rest of humanity from boredom. I have no problem with people churning out hilarious statements back and forth, matter of fact, I love it. I do have a problem however with people passing themselves off as owners of the niche of online comedy so much that they will go to strange lengths just to earn a few more Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets. Listen guys, I am no Doctor and therefore you will not find ‘Doctor’ anywhere in my bio. As such, I am sure it would pass off as false advertising or worse still, impersonation, if someone added ‘comedian’ to their bio yet the best jokes they have are, well, themselves. There is no crime in being modest and down to earth, let alone honest about one’s talent (or lack of it for that matter).
I have always held radio presenters in very high esteem not just because I am one of them but because really, they (we) are cool people. A few Blog posts ago, I mentioned that Radio Presenters are some of the happiest people on earth. Today, it hurts me to reveal and to admit that a few radio presenters are disgracing the trade. Many of us have this strange assumption that we are funny and so we often shove unfunny jokes down people’s throats without as much as a bother. As already mentioned, I love humour, I live for it. You will however not catch me putting myself out as a funny man or an interesting radio personality. Never have, never will. I am not the funniest person out there, matter of fact, I am as funny as a little child is knowledgeable about Rocket Science. So it is safe to say that I cannot create even half a joke. However, I can tell a funny person when I see one. And equally, I can smell an unfunny joke from miles away. That said, I still maintain that after and Writers, Radio Presenters are the next best thing on this earth. Guys, we shouldn’t disgrace our trade by pretending to be funny when we clearly are not. Okay? Good.
That being said, I have met several Ugandans whose lives are just humour in itself. We are one naturally gifted lot of people so much that humour can be seen in our everyday life. The problem is when we decide to go commercial with it, we lose the plot.
“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” ― Erma Bombeck
The Talkative Rocker
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