There is a kind of love-hate relationship between Ghanaian comedians and the entertainment media. The kind has over the years raised tempers, especially from the comedians who suspect that despite all they have done to elevate that aspect of the arts, the media still does not give them the due respect.
Before we got to this place, some people in the media had held the view that many of the comedians we had, especially the stand-up comedians, were not funny.
At the time the leading characters were David Oscar, Foster Koobi and a few others. Those were the graduates of the Charterhouse-organised comedy reality show as part of Stars of the Future.
I must admit that some of the criticisms were too hard. Most of those criticisms were not constructive enough to give room for the budding talents of the only comedians we had to grow fully well to the point that we would enjoy what they gave us.
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The reason, if one may find it, was because many consumers of comedy had been exposed to the Nigerian comedians like Gbenga Adeyinka, Gordons, Basket Mouth, Klint da Drunk and a host of others who always graced the 1000 Laugh and Music stage.
We were comparing the budding Ghanaian comedians to the very well established Nigerian comedians who has been doing this for well over a decade before these young men got into the game. But there was the need for a standard and the Nigerians came handy!
The comedians at the time did not take kindly to this tagging by the media. The most known face for comedy at the time, call him the poster boy comedy, was David Oscar and he met the critics head on. He demanded that they were shown some respect as they were doing their best.
As things would be, the comedians took things into their own hands and started organising their own events. They would go on tours to campuses and other places to have their own shows and no matter how it came off, they were living their comedic lives as they wish. Even if they were not invited to the big stage of the music and laugh series, they would brighten the corner where they were.
When he came back from the Big Brother house, DKB found a way to join this new uprising in the comedy space. He was part of the bandwagon that would go to campuses and organise comedy events at the Silverbird at the Accra Mall to hone their career.
I think the moment that changed most of this things and in the favour of the Ghanaian comedian had to be when Funny Face slayed it on the big stage in 2010 when he managed to ensure that the Ghanaian comedian would have his place among well-established Nigerian comedians.
There were then other opportunities for others on that stage over the years. There were times when they were made to act as hosts and other times appear as performers throughout the period. Meanwhile, the show was still ongoing on campuses and the small stages.
Overtime, other comedy shows came to rival the one organised by Charterhouse. There were some that couldn’t survive and the eventual output were not very great. Then also came the one organised by Nabil Alhassan and his Event Factory not too long ago.
Over time, all these shows gave opportunity to the Ghanaian comedian and gradually they were building their profile and act as well as art to sell to us their craft.
The new breed of comedians such as DKB, Foster (who has been around through all these phases), Khemikal, OB, Jacinta Ocansey and the squad thus had the opportunity to hone their craft properly.
Eventually it seemed as though the market had accepted their own and the Ghanaian comedian would have his/her day on stage anywhere in Ghana and they would raise the roof. DKB was becoming the leading force for all the performers in that field and there was hardly a gig he won’t feature on or a show he won’t MC.
Last year, DKB attempted his own show and it was massively successful to the surprise of many. He filled the National Theatre to the rafters and on the bill he had all the people who had been classified as the new face of comedy in Ghana. He was named by KSM as the King of Comedy at this event.
Unfortunately, the then poster boy for Ghanaian comedy and the most vociferous advocate, David Oscar, who had moved on to become a musician did not show up. I felt that should have been his moment of glory.
Be that as it may, the Ghanaian media, especially those in entertainment had been with the comedians throughout this journey I have outlined. When they needed to be criticised we held no punches and where they needed to be praised, we spared no ink.
Recently though there has been some terse responses from some of the comedians because some entertainment pundits had criticised them again, rekindling that old cat and mouse relationship all over again.
In the midst of this brouhaha, Graphic Showbiz published a front page story quoting former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings as saying DKB was a boring comedian.
That also added some flame to the inferno with the comedians and especially DKB pushing back strongly. He was recently quoted to have said that Ghanaians did not have common sense. In his response though he said he was aimed at some media people who do not recognise the efforts of comedians and not to Ghanaians.
“These false claims are propaganda to tarnish my image because my response was directed to those who constantly disrespect the hard work of Ghcomedy and Ghcomedians. I do agree such comments are needless irrespective of whom it address and our best bet is to remain focused on delivering our refreshing humour to Ghanaians,” he said in a statement.
I honestly think it is not necessary bashing heads between the media and comedians. The fact is that, the media should be able to point out when comedians go overboard or do silly jokes or are boring. It is the duty of the comedians to prove the media wrong on the platform by delivering the best shows.
That said though it is also okay to have a banter once in a while. The media won’t stop criticising (for better or worse) and it behooves the comedians to up their game to meet the expectations of the people.
The Nigerians and Ugandans will keep coming and our own should better be prepared to meet them boot for boot. Rest assured, when they have an off day and kill fire, we shall talk and write about it. So better get used to it already!