Dealing with Family Matters through Comedy
Stand-Up Comedy is a fast rising form of entertainment in Nigeria. At one time or another many have worked hard dealing with family or personal crises. Chinyere Okoye spoke with Jude Ogomegbunam Chukwuka on this issue
Initially it was only movies and music that are part of the entertainment industry that started to grow and shows various levels of development. Nigerian movies now get shown on satellite TV and have managed to gain a follower ship from a number of African countries. Today comedy has managed to extend their fame beyond the shores of the country. This acclaims to why some of the stars are getting international deals.
Stand -up comedy was never a form of Nigerian entertainment. The closest to it was that of the ancient court jesters and the local comedians we usually came across in Nigerian Yoruba movies.
However Nigerian stand -up comedy is becoming a very well accepted form of entertainment. Of note is the fact that this form of entertainment is actually something copied from the western culture. But Nigerian comedians at the height of their own creativity have evolved it into their own colorful version, which makes use of forum to address issues. It is spiced up when mimicked as a programme to address family matters.
An ace comedian, graphic artist, actor and also a marketer, Jude Ogomegbunam Nnabuife Uwadiegwu Chukwuka in a chat with us said as an actor sometimes you become another person on stage or sometimes you are yourself.
As a comedian, I mimic people a lot and I address family issues and it is more like being the same person but with a little beat of arts here and there and I don't have a problem flowing in them.
In the course of discharging my call as a comedian, I have faced challenges generally but basically on family issues. In the course of discussion with a friend about making people laugh, he said,” But Jude this is not easy and is like playing scrabble on a register". Just like playing scrabble with a dictionary that has limited words.
Oh! My friend it is going to be difficult and also hard to sell. Family is the oldest institution, comedy is felling and family needs help, Jude said. I told him that since serious people have tried and failed, let stand-up comedians begin to work in perspectives in dealing with family issues.
Again, another challenge is getting things that will make people laugh. You look around you see things happen around you and it becomes an inspiration. There are some things that you will do and you will know they are serious joke, and you write it down to be able to influence what you do as a comedian.
Another area of challenge is financing, it is easy to sell comedy but this kind of comedy is for specialized people. People don't have confidence in it, people can call on all these comedians' people to make you laugh but when you begin to raise issues and make people laugh based on that issue, it becomes too serious and it is another areas of challenge.
Most time there are situation where you crack a joke people laughs and the next day you crack that same joke to that same people and they will not be put off. I did not see it as a challenge. My approach has always been to pick up a topic and try to make everybody see him or herself in that particular topic and not pointing at only one person. I can hide in that, to pick an issue and discuss these issues by infusing a lot of comedy in it and it makes you see yourself in it. What I see is people come and learn and see their errors and laugh at themselves. It again improves benefit of the family.
Before I started dealing on family matters, I was a part of family before I started my own family. What I do with family matters is putting my own life experiences before people and let them see how they even come in (e.g.) The first programme I did was "In the beginning" This is looking at problems young people face in starting a relationship. I got married so I must have faced those challenges and the fact that I am here today means that I have surpassed those challenges and I am happily married.
According to one of my programme, "In the beginning", I had problems which I have surpassed, I was able to discuss my programmes perfectly. I can't imagine a situation where I want to talk to a girl and she says, "I doesn't want to talk to you" or a guy who wants to talk to a girl and says "can I see you previously". These are the some of the issue but at the end it, is not how well they speak but how well both can work together to make a good family.
Again it is not every family that speaks good English that the family is good and not every house that speaks grammatical blunder that is a bad family. It is a function of how well they are prepared to surmount those challenges and have a good family but we present it in a very funny way that is why it makes the difference.
As a comedian, not a psychologist I also came across situations, which I laugh at them and make them know that you have been through them. There are challenges but the greatest challenge I have had, was when we are growing up. Then talking to a girl but in my own way, I work up to a girl and kick her leg and you say "What's your own sef?" and she responds in fear you have defeated her and she understands the language but these days it doesn't work that way. You make passes to a girl and she gives you a dirty slap, this means she doesn't understand the language. It is a generational thing, for us it was how fierce you look, how wild you are and how much jeans you wear.
In dealing with family matters, there are bound to be pressures. Families today are in serious trouble. There are pressures on families. Fathers have to work, mother have to work, sometimes children have to work. In a situation where the mother and the father are working, leaves the home in the morning, face traffic, he gets to the office, he is somebody's subordinate, he is somebody's boss and he is a father, a husband, a brother and another persons child all these are roles he plays at the same time. The same applies to the wife and the society is not helping out. You get home, no electricity and you also notice that your child's diaper has not been changed since morning. Every plan she has before she got home changes. All these brings pressure on the family if not properly managed things collapse the man with all these, if he doesn't take time to evaluate or check the problems will add to the problems. This is where the family matters come in, where we raise issues that is not peculiar with one person.
To be frank, I did not just decide to deal on family matters but it has been a passion in me and I enjoy family. I danced with my mother when I was young, she taught me the old dancing steps. She went to dancing school, so she took it out on me. I enjoyed my relationship with my mother.
As a person, desire for a wonderful family has been in me. When we were growing up, most of my friends who got married will always need me to fill in one thing or the other in their process of getting to consolidate with their relationship and spouses. Two years ago, it became glaring that families are felling and they need help and only way to help families is by creating a forum where they can come and enjoy themselves There are jokes for every member of the family. In a recent programme, "I love my wife" most of us say we love our wives but how much do we take time out to know what their needs are.
Ixamples: Women have five areas in their lives where a man can get to their heart and it varies from one woman to another. Some are touch, gift, some just want their men around them; some appreciation and she will do more. If you can't speak your wife's language in the house, there is bound to be trouble. (Comedy) A man that goes out early and comes back late everyday, he doesn't have time for the wife. One day he forgot something in the house, came back to pick it and his wife was in the bathroom singing and he grabs his wife from the back and she says "Oh! Sunny you don go drop Oga?" the driver understands the language of the woman, which is touch.
Albeit since the inception of this programme, attitude of people that attend the forum has been shaved, you come to the show and I address an issue, I believe strongly that it will cost you to shift your attitude in a positive way.
Furthermore, "I dey pain you", is an upcoming programme which means if it is paining you do something about it. This is about women, if you don't handle your husband well, another woman will. Here I always advice women to retain their husbands not retraining them. I also advice them to dress for their husband not just dressing. So "If I dey pain you do something about it".
To be able to maintain your stand as a great comedian, inspiration is important. I get my inspirations from God, children, friends, my wife, brothers, sisters, parents, in-laws and others. I play with children to know what they know. I ask a child, "what is a pistol, he says it is the wife of apostle". I ask again, "Why did the children of Israel stayed in the wilderness fro 40 years? She said, "Because they did not know the road and did not ask anybody". Who can tell me where we find fishes, Aunty me! Me! Okay you, in our stew, because he has not seen fish anywhere else. Children inspire me a lot.