MEET GHANA‘S TOP STAND-UP COMEDIANS (Part 2)
‘We are doing intelligent and mature comedy’-DAVID OSCAR, Ghanaian comedian
We promised to bring you the concluding part of Ghanaian comedians making waves and about to turn comedy into an enviable money making industry just like their Nigerian counterparts. However, Ghanaians and comedy buffs around the world can only keep their fingers crossed and watch if they can really revive the Ghana comedy industry just like the music industry which has grown tremendously over the years with local and international awards to show for it.
When did you venture into comedy?
I started when I was in the university. There was a reality show called Stars of The Future organized by Charter House. I ran for it because it was a reality show meant to discover several musicians and comedians, I ran for comedy and I won nationwide. But I think prior to this, I’ve had few comedy experiences from my level 100 to 300 before the competition came up.
You were the first comedian to perform at the MNET comedy plus. How was it for you?
It was a good experience for me because that was also the first time I entertained a foreign audience (in Kenya), if you know what I mean. So, I really had to work on my materials. When I got there I noticed it wasn’t mainly a live comedy show, but a kind of television production where you had the audience handpicked. The experience was good for me because I was on with Omobaba, Basketmouth and few others from Nigeria, so that exposed me to the outside world as a comedian from Ghana.
But why do you think people feel Nigerian comedians are funnier than Ghanaian comedians?
I think it’s because comedy is more popular in Nigeria, than it is in Ghana. I’m sure there must be several reasons for that, maybe the size of the market, but it’s also not a correct notion that Nigerian comedians are funnier. I will say they are more popular and so the popularity also fuels that notion, that’s why some of us hang on the campaign for Ghanaian comedians. There is evidence enough to showcase there are good enough comedians in Ghana who are equally funny. I can mention names. We have the likes of Funny Face, DKB, Augustine, and Foster. If you really understand the Ghanaian kind of humour, then you will say we are on top when it comes to that type of humor. I think because our main language of communication is English, a lot more people are not able to match up with us because they are like up there, but in Nigeria, a lot of people speak pidgin. I think that’s one of your most popular, so if a Nigerian comedian does a joke in pidgin, a lot of people would laugh throughout and that would look like they are funnier, because of the popularity of pidgin English. I am educated, my humour is mature, very intelligent, not many people are in my class of audience, if you understand what I mean. So, usually you have people who are not funny and people funnier than others. So, these are the technicalities that affect the trade. I think with a broader education for our society and people keep increasing in knowledge, some of us will be appreciated, because we are up there. We are doing intelligent and mature comedy.
Have you ever felt intimated by Nigerian comedians?
No… I should be honest. I think I know what I have. I have my personal favourites, but it doesn’t mean when I’m on the stage with them I can’t perform to standard.
So, who is your favourite?
Oh! When I was growing up in the game, Basketmouth was one person I looked up to a lot and I had the chance of working with him in Ghana. I think that was because Nigerian comedy on social media particularly on YouTube wasn’t so popular at the time when I was growing, so only a few guys in the trade had content on social media because over the years we have also come to see a lot more comedians. Akpororo is one guy I see doing some stuff, the guy is amazing.
What measures can be put in place to uplift comedy in Ghana?
The measures I think are already in place. I’ve been able to organize seven road shows with all the GH comedians. We have done shows in Koforidua, Tamale, Cape Coast, Accra, Takoradi and this was just by my own special effort. Of course, we had little support from few brands, but it was not huge. So, the measures are already in place. I know some comedians also have their own road shows. Charter House is also in the lead with their laugh series which also engages Ghanaian comedians. But I think a lot more platforms can be created. Corporate entities should begin to think of engaging the services of Ghanaian comedians because there are lots of annual events, end of the year parties, etc and they still bypass some of us and go to Nigeria. Nobody is against that, but the advocacy is that they should also take a look at the home grown talents that we have here. So that we can also earn from their pockets and grow ourselves and increase our capacity. And if this situation is passed on a lot more people can feel comfortable and engage the services of Ghanaian comedians because there are talents here, good talents, that given the opportunity any day any of them can shine. I have personally had some of them on my comedy show, corporate comedy, and I know for a fact what I am talking about. Maybe some years ago when some of us started the advocacy we were very aggressive with it, so we made lots of enemies for ourselves. But it was necessary for some of us to take the step at that time…
If I may come in, was that what led to the face off you had with Charter House?
It was a certain posture that drew all kinds of attention towards me personally. Whether it was negative or positive, that attention is the driving force which most of these comedians rode on to get to where they are. I can mention DKB, Foster, and Augustine. So for better or for worse, I think that posture brought us some attention we needed that time. And so it drew attention to a doing and to the fact that there are good talents in Ghana. I don’t have problem with Charter House, maybe in times past because my posture made me look like an enemy, but now I can tell you authoritatively that me and Charter are cool. I can say they listened to our cries because I can’t remember the first time two Ghanaian comedians were on the same stage with Nigerian comedians, but it happened recently at the Charter House show where Foster and DKB were engaged on their show. I think it’s a positive direction for all of us and we thank them for paying attention to Ghanaian comedy and we want them to do more.
What can your colleagues in Nigeria do to support this move?
I have some very great Nigerian friends, serious intellectuals and I know that given the right opportunity, the Nigerian market can enjoy Ghanaian type of humour. We don’t have to speak the same pidgin though, we have our own type of communication, and so given the right atmosphere and right opportunity, some Ghanaian comedians, I believe can shine in the Nigerian market. Let me also use this platform to call on some of our brothers out there, I know that once in a while the likes of Basketmouth, Julius Agwu do shows and invite some of compatriots from South Africa, Congo and few other places. I can tell them authoritatively that Ghanaian comedians are also ripe for those type of shows, and can extend hand of friendship to some of us to come around and fraternize with our Nigerian brothers. If you take a look at it from a broader spectrum, we are one people, we should be given the opportunity to also come to Nigeria and entertain so as to broaden our scope and horizon. It’s no competition, but if it is, we can all benefit from it. Our market is growing and we employ our Nigerian counterparts to extend a hand of friendship.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
It depends on where am coming from. If I’m writing a piece of music, it has to be out of certain emotion. If I have to do comedy, usually I observe, I listen to the news and get to know what is making people talk or laugh and these are the things I pay attention to and write my routines out of them. And when I have to act, once am on set, once in a while, I can make reference to Tenants Shown on DSTV out of which I’m getting a lot of followers from Nigeria. So, let me say hello to all my Nigerian fans that have been following me on my social media platforms because of Tenants on Africa Magic produced by Shirley Frimpong. So, there is inspiration for each occasion.