Nigerians love to copy but then Nigerians are the happiest people alive so it was understandable that we don’t copy comedy. The Nigerian comedy style has been consistently unique, so unique Nigerians would hardly laugh at the jokes of foreigners but will rather laugh at those who laugh at such jokes as, placed side by side with the average Nigerian joke, every foreign joke sounds flat and dry. Nigerians love to copy and import but one thing we do not copy and import is comedy. Enter Trevor Noah.
This 33 years old, South African comedian, television and radio presenter, seem to have broken the barrier between “oyinbo jokes” and Nigerian laugh. Trevor brought to the Daily Show an African, a black American and the ability to reach the Caucasian community at the same time all in one person. Although of recent he may be in need of a friend to secretly advise him to find other topics apart from Donald Trump to tell his jokes about, Trevor has proven to be a very versatile comedian in the past with witty and educated punchlines. Trevor has also been the guy to copy for news media houses in Nigeria trying to reach younger people.
Before now we saw Linda Ikeji tv’s Hero Daniels on an internet show called the Report Card wearing a suit and joking about the news in the same style as Trevor. We also saw the screen by the left and the joke format all seeming like Trevor and of course we heard the badly faked laughter. All of these, without Hero Daniel’s wealth of information, was on the new Channels Tv programme “The Other News”.
The Other News is hosted by Ace comedian Okey Bakassi who on a normal day can be funny talking from his sleep and the opening was wonderful showing a well scripted and smoothly crafted conversation between Okey Bakassi and a news anchor, but the main content started and we did not see Okey; we saw an heavily scripted yet information starved imitation of Trevor Noah. We heard what, because we were adults, we knew was supposed to be laughter from what seem like the camera rather than an audience and it wasn’t funny largely because it was not Okey.
From where we see it, ChannelsTv needs to fix the following:
1. Tune down the scripting
Comedy badly requires smoothness whereas smoothness and flow is a factor of how accustomed you are to the language in many cases. If you must compete with a comedian who has toured, severally, English speaking countries, you can’t do that with a comedian whose material usually comes in some other language. Its just not fair.
2. Let Okey be Okey.
Apart from when he is unnecessarily raw, Okey Bakassi has a very weird, interesting and intelligent alternative view of things. This can however not be delivered with heavy scripting on a foreign template ridiculed with fake laughter.
3. Develop a unique concept around comic news.
It does not have to be sitting down and facing the cameras while audience laugh. Stephen Cobel for example stands a lot while he does his thing, Okey is a stand up comedian not a TV personality unlike Trevor. There is nothing wrong if Okey does it his way by having an audience he performs to this time using news items, it could even be that he is trying to crack up the known news crew to see if they can laugh at their news; that will add a unique flavour to it. What we are seeing is an attempt to crack foreign-like jokes and depict wide laughter at the same time whereas in Nigeria to be funny you have to be real funny.
All of these can hardly change the fact that Channels Tv is a great television station just as Okey Bakassi is a great comedian and even more, comedy told with what actually goes on is the best comedy. It is just our opinion that for now the combination is poor powerful for the output, we hope that this changes.