Comedy is one of the good things we have going for us in Nigeria. It’s one reason among many that Nigerians can carry on; we seek ways to find relief from the drudgery of everyday living; with strikes, increment in fuel prices, transportation fares shooting high, electricity tariffs that don’t match supply…
Thanks to Covid-19 and no thanks too, (people have died); we have begun to notice many more comedy talents on social media. I follow quite number of them. These guys provide millions of Nigerians both home and abroad so much to laugh about. As they say, “laughter is the best medicine,” hopefully, too, a cure from the malaise plaguing the country.
Top on my list of funny as hell comedy merchants would be Nedu, aka Alhaji Musa; aka Endtime Landlord, aka Officer Jatto, and his constant side-kick Dogo/husband material. My first glimpse of Nedu, I think, would be that MTN ad “Siri phlay romantik muzik…” I was impressed with his antics and thought he was such a character!
Alhaji Musa is a romantic. He is lecherous and his disdain for the common is hilarious. I was convinced he was a Northerner; especially with his Mallam Jatto personae until I learned his name is Nedu. It made his character (s) even more endearing to me. So, I followed him on social media and during the lockdown; I sought him out regularly until he upstaged @lasisielenu who was my former favorite.
The fact that, as Mallam Jatto he is able to divide his characters into several other characters is just crazy and funny as hell! Mallam Jatto/Alhaji Musa… and Dogo/husband material, his side-kick, are two crazy guys that make my day. I not only enjoy them; I share as well.
For comedy to remain fun, it must be spontaneous; it must be current. Not only that, it must be able to read the mood of the audience. To my mind, Nedu seems to have captured this to a large extent.
However, the lecherous Alhaji Musa began to get me uncomfortable when I observed that he always used certain types of women in his skits; it didn’t also help when a male friend pointed out the same thing when I shared one of mallam’s videos. “…All his skits are objectifying women.”
Then I checked again. A very substantial number of Alhaji Musa’s (and all the personae’s) female amours were women with big boobs and even bigger butts to boot! His messages are about favouring women with the ‘goods.’
I checked the comments section and saw that more than one million of us; women included, were still roaring with laughter at the videos.
I began to think, perhaps this a house style. Maybe using big boobies and booties is deliberate? The skits always have sexual innuendos (I will be the first to admit that sex sells). But though many times the stories told in these skits are downright hilarious; we often laugh, more when we see the size of these women; their spilling boobs or their disproportionate booties.
We see the end result isn’t often because of what is said; But mostly what is unsaid when the women are shown in full view.
Now, comedy is also about relevance. it is also, ultimately, about enabling the comedian to be able to pay his bills with his craft. What’s a funny guy who can’t pay his bills? A clown? Why are bills important? The quality of the Instagram videos Mallam churns out is no beans!
The production quality of the videos is top-notch; they are not phone camera stuff. These are studio jobs and studio jobs cost money, casts cost money; sometimes location costs money. So, I reckon, it won’t be funny anymore if Nedu, funny as he is, can’t pay his bills.
But let’s be clear about the types of women featured…
Mallam isn’t the only guilty party here. Many of our comedians seem only to focus on female body parts. The joke is always about their conquests. If they are not featuring women with ample body parts; they are dishing money to glammed-up girls like Mr. Macaroni, another comedian I follow and who I think is actually funny as far as comedians go.
Now, is this necessarily objectifying women?
Maybe not at the beginning but me thinks that with more awareness; these jokes need to be skewed towards what is more popular and acceptable. I remember years back when rape jokes were funny. Then the rape epidemic made the audience question comedians who made rape jokes on stage; as well as comedy trivializing rape.
The backlash was nasty, the vitriol on social media still drips!
Back to the bills, just a thought…
When brands begin to look for ambassadors, and agencies scout for models; there’s a chance they may skip the ‘lecherous man’; there’s a chance someone on the board of that big brand may say; ‘‘We don’t think someone who objectifies women should represent our brand…We don’t want people to think we support men who deceive women…’’
The challenge for comedians is to keep engaging their fans and hopefully remain on the scene for long. Me thinks that Mallam Jatto may be digging himself into oblivion pretty soon if he continues with the biggie boobies and booties.
Meanwhile, where does Nedu get these ladies?