Television of 2014-08-08

Ghanaian comedians, prove critics wrong on stage not by insults

When I tweeted to commend Ghanaian comedian Derrick Kwabena Bonney, DKB as he prefers to be called on stage on his wonderful performance at the last 1,000 laughs series organized by Charterhouse last Saturday, there were a few people who replied or retweeted my tweet.

Earlier in the year Oscar was reported to have remarked that he didn’t know why good people like Komla Dumor would die, and the likes of Nii Ayi Tagoe would still be alive. Of course Tagoe, an entertainment pundit, is a vehement critic of what he thinks is the lack of comedy talent in Ghana hence that purported dig at him by Oscar.

Oscar is a very hurt young man because he holds the view and a grudge perhaps that Ghanaian event organisers, entertainment pundits and a section of the society have no regard or even respect for comedians and being the de facto 'leader' of the young corps of Ghanaian comedians he takes such a look down very personal.

But it is not Oscar alone who has come with hammers, cudgels and other implements to demolish the perceived enemies of local comedians since DKB knocked everybody silly at the auditorium of the Accra International Conference Centre last Saturday night.There have been many such on both social media and mainstream media.

This post 1018 laughs show rhetoric is, in my view, symptomatic of a long drawn argument between two schools of thought about the state of comedy in Ghana. While one section thinks, there is very little or no comedy talent in this country the other thinks there is and what those in it need is encouragement to shine and not criticism.

The argument is such that those who think there is a paucity of comedy talent point to the fact that the biggest comedy stage in Ghana, the night of 1,000 laughs series, doesn’t feature Ghanaian talent because they don’t measure up and in times when they were given the opportunity they flunked it by performing terribly below par.

While those who hold the opposing view argue that enough opportunities have not been given local comedians to prove their worth on that particular stage. They claim that the organisers are biased towards Nigerian comedians and therefore see nothing good in the Ghanaian comedians and the reason they don’t feature them.

Thus, the impressive DKB showing on Saturday was projected by many industry people as the performance to settle the argument once and for all. He fails, and that would slam the door in the face of local comedians on that stage, he excels, and it would prove all critics wrong. DKB went on stage and performed creditably well, and the debate became even more vehement.

The pro local comedy proponents say “we told you there was enough talent even better than the Nigerians you fawn over, and DKB has proved us right. Now that you have seen what we are capable of you have no choice than to get us involved any time you have a big comedy show.”

On the other hand, the paucity of comedy talent proponents is certain to say that “if we hadn’t criticized them enough to draw their attention to the fact that they needed to improve their game we won’t be having this conversation. In any case one good showing is not enough to conclude that all is well.”

While I hold the middle view that there is some comedy talent in Ghana, it is also fair to say that it has not shown as bright as we would want it to and therefore the need to harness it and make it a bit more visible and commercial both in Ghana and abroad.

It should be noted however that either of the groups of people who hold opposing views on the state of comedy in Ghana is within its rights to do so, and each is not far from the truth on what their position is. Put differently, both are saying the same thing but from different points of view and it is for the good of the industry that both speak.

It is very important to note that Oscar and his team, as well as their backers, claim that those who criticize them most have not seen enough of them to arrive at such conclusions and on the basis of that, therefore, in their view; the criticisms are baseless and without merit.

They say at least if you want to criticize us watch us before you do so. Of course, they negate the fact that the critic would have had other avenues to watch their performances.

Indeed some have argued that it is their encouragement and not the baseless criticisms that have seen the likes of DKB develop their act to the manner that it would receive so much rave reviews from even the most-insatiable critics. A view which, I believe very strongly, those who criticize them will vehemently oppose.

This then will move us into the age-old argument of whether encouragement or criticisms would help to develop a person.

The question is how do you know it is your encouragement that worked on him and not the other person’s criticisms and vice versa? Both would commit a post hoc fallacy if they push the argument; I believe.

This is my view on the matter: it doesn’t matter what criticism is aimed at you or what people say about your professional conduct, you can only reply and silence them with your work and not through insults or by calling them names.

Let me try an analogy here. There is a young Ghanaian footballer who had several vitriolic criticisms aimed at him that he got his position in the Black Stars because of his father’s influence. Dede Ayew could never do anything without people accusing his father of working for him to get national team call up in 2008.

After that tournament, the young man led the national Under 20 team to conquer the world as he played a yeoman’s role in the matches that led to the final and in the final itself. Even then some still held the view that he was not mature enough to be called to the Black Stars but for the connections of his father.

Before the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations would commence, these criticisms were as very rife as anything you can imagine. Ironically, by the time the Black Stars had gone through to where they got to in the tournament Dede Ayew was hailed as one of the heroes in the Ghanaian team.

When he decided to resign from the national team, it took the President of the land to bring him back. No Black Stars coach would have the courage of calling up a squad without calling Dede Ayew. Not because the President would intervene, but because he cannot stand the stick he would get from the Ghanaian football fans, especially those who criticized his earlier call-ups.

Ayew used his abilities, not insults, to silence the people who thought he was not worthy of a place in the Black Stars squad, and one can argue that it is similar to what DKB did on the stage that has shown that he is worth being called a top notch comedian.

Not his explanations. Not his verbal response to critics. Instead of heaping insults on their critics, both real and perceived, it is my considered opinion that the Ghanaian comedians and their supporters should continue with their good work and like DKB someone will find them and give them the opportunity that would ensure that all doubts about them would be erased.

They cannot convince or even compel people to laugh at their jokes by shouting from the rooftop that they are funny and need to be seen as such. If the jokes are funny people will laugh (of course except those who have bigger problems than the jokes), and they will be exonerated but if the jokes are not funny they will be told so.

Trust me, if DKB had flunked his performance at the last show he would have known what real pain was as people had doubts, and even some had stayed away from the show because he was on the bill.

Thankfully he passed with flying colours and here we are talking about him in the most flowery manner. It is time his colleagues learn from this and prove everybody wrong with their work and not fight with both contrived and real critics as that would not prove their worth as much as their acts would!

Source: Francis Doku
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