Criticism is part of the life cycle; there’s criticism in every department of life. Some criticisms are meant to shape you, straighten you or break you.
There cannot be a world of show business without the element of criticism. In fact, critics and their critiques abound in the arts & entertainment industry and they are prevalent everywhere in the world.
In Ghana, one fold of practitioners in the arts who have endured severe castigation over the period is the comedians, the stand-up comedians.
Candidly, the level of scolding for our comedians has dwindled, as there is more praise than bashing, however, depending on their performance, criticisms do come in here and there.
Unfortunately, it seems our stand-up comics have resolved to deal ruthlessly with any patron, observer or critic who has any ‘negative’ opinion about their craft and brand.
They are becoming a bunch of intolerant and prejudiced entertainers who think, that using the old adage of ‘best way to defend is to attack’ is the way to go!
‘Ghanaian Comedians Are Not Funny’
The mantra of ‘ Ghanaian comedians are not funny’ – affects our comedians in a very bad way. Such a statement ‘kills’ them; it irritates them to the core and as seen over the week, they descend heavily on anyone that dares make that statement!
True, some years ago, Ghanaian comedians were not funny and it’s a fact and guess what; we do not have any problem with our sense of humour.
For some of them, we saw them when they got their first opportunity at the highly-publicized ‘A Night of 1000 Laughs’ organized by Charterhouse. They were extremely dreary, the reason it took them a longtime to get on that platform again.
Again, we saw some of them at Citizen Kofi and the other comedy platforms; they sucked!
So, if any critic, patron or observer states that, 6-8 years ago, our comedians were dowdy in their delivery of jokes, that person is right!
No amount of verbal abuse or Internet bullying from our comedians would erase their performances at the time. They can go back for all the newspaper clippings and online reports on how abysmal they performed in those 6-8 years ago. It was a resounding disapproval from the populace.
They Have Improved Tremendously
There’s no doubt about the vast improvement of our stand –up comics. In the last 3-4 years, they have dominated the entertainment scene.
They have been headlining high-profile comedy shows, commandeering major award shows, organizing their own shows and road trips and signing various endorsement deals.
They are really basking in the glory of hard work, dedication and zealousness attached to the craft.
Their performances have improved remarkably and more than once, they have been rated highly as compared to their ‘dreaded’ Nigerian counterparts on several editions of ‘A Night of 1000 Laughs’.
Quite refreshingly, that tag of ‘Ghanaian comedians are not funny’ was erased some 4 years ago, liberating them from all shackles of misconception and cynicism.
There’s now total acceptance of Ghanaian comedians and up and coming stand-up comedians like Lekzy, do not feel that pressure anymore in mounting any stage and producing magnificent performances.
Comedians Are Not Above Reproach
It is funny how, all of a sudden, stand-up comedians in Ghana want to act like gods; without blemish and way beyond rebuke. Please, sit down!
Every player within the Creative Industry is open to scrutiny and criticism. Even the critics who have mastered the art of critiquing are scolded; nobody is above scolding!
Musicians are lambasted everyday for varied reasons; actors are chastised on a daily basis while Radio/TV personalities get chided all the time.
These comedians should realize that, it is a tough industry, which can be accommodating and unforgiving at the same time. If you excel, you will be applauded and if you mess up, you will be reprimanded.
It is a simple fact and if you are serious about your craft and your brand, you will know this basic fact!
If public scrutiny affects you that much as a comedian, than organize shows in your bedroom for family members only. That way, when you mess up, the bashing would be restricted to your bedroom.
Tolerance Is Key; Remember That!
You cannot survive in such a torrid industry and not have a sense of tolerance and open-mindedness.
Interestingly, these comedians with fast-rising bloated egos seem to have the stomach for only positive reviews and no room for any form of constructive or harsh criticism.
It is the same observers and critics who applauded these comedians when they excelled on the high-profile comedy shows. These same persons scored them 90% and above when they performed creditably on various events.
For 3 consecutive editions, these Ghanaian comedians have been splendid on the ‘A Night of 1000 laughs’ and the same old critics lauded their performances; and if these same observers are criticizing your work on a particular platform and you think insults should be your appropriate response? My brother, check yourself!
If you have the guts to accommodate positive feedback, have the balls to tolerate ‘negative’ opinion. That is how the industry is built, so, if you reckon that criticism doesn’t work for you, then brethren, go into farming!
Respect the Fan!
The fan (s) is the important element in the life of any entertainer or celebrity. Without the fans, you have no career! You can’t prepare material and perform it in your bathroom.
If, for any reason, a fan, observer or critic should question your work and performance, there’s always a professional way to deal with it. You do not throw silly tantrums and act a fool!
You can choose to ignore, respond like a professional or shut them up with a resounding performance.
Even for that endorsement deal you signed or lobbying for, that Company looked or is looking at your following and that is the fans; you lose them and you have no following, no deal and ultimately, no career.
So, whatever you do as a Ghanaian comedian in a response to a critic, show respect and remember who puts food on your effing table.
By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo