Comedians have made the stomachs of their audience ache with laughter anytime they mount the stage to delight them with jokes. They make sure their audiences leave shows still laughing their hearts out when they recollect some of the funny stories.
But in recent times, comedy has taken different forms and styles; thanks to social media. The advent and popularity of social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have birthed a new crop of comedians who are somehow different from stand-up comedians because they create skits—short comedy sketches.
In Ghana, a few skit makers were doing their own things before COVID-19. However, there is no doubt skits on social media in Ghana, like other parts of the world, gained a lot of attention and patronage during the pandemic.
Thankfully, the comedy skit industry in Ghana is picking up quite fast with some talented, fast-rising comedians capitalising on digital technology, content creation, distribution and consumption to create a viable field within the creative industry.
These skit Lords, as they are referred to, have created various ‘comic characters’ that have now become household names. These new crop of comedians are taking advantage of the wide reach social media has to create creative, engaging and funny content entertaining to the average social media user.
By a mile, one of such skit creators, Jeffrey Nortey, has gained ground with his pieces beyond Ghana. Jeffrey, who is an actor, presenter and spoken word artiste, is taking the comedy skit industry to another level and gradually bringing some well-needed attention to that sector by highlighting trending topics and life lessons with his act.
Jeffrey is talented and his experience as an actor, a TV presenter and a poet make it quite easy for him to excel in that sector—arguably making him one of the most sought-after stars in that field.
In an interview with Daily Graphic, Jeffery Nortey, whose works such as Buttocks is Life, Why is the Nectar So Sweet, The Police is Your Friend, Follow Me, DollarVsCitizen have about 60,000 subscribers on YouTube with some of his videos garnering over a million views on the social media handle, said he took advantage of the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic to explore that creative side of him.
“I am very young in this comedy skit thing. I’m only two years in it but people don’t know because of my quick rise. Perhaps, I will say that what is happening started with a strong burning desire to have my own scripts and play roles I might not be cast for.
“And of course, the locked down was a huge boost for the skit industry. Many people were indoors, including the skit makers who were off their regular jobs. It was quite boring and depressing and I know people needed some form of entertainment and fun.
“So the skit comedy space became another job creation allowing quite a number of people to find something meaningful to do within that sector and I’m excited that it is paying off despite the challenges,” he said.
While the goal of the skits is entertaining, it goes without saying that the effort, personnel and time expended are costly.
Resources injected in the works attest to the level of commitment and Jeffrey mentioned that irrespective of the fact that people want to laugh, one cannot overlook quality productions.
“There is pressure and many people want to laugh but we can’t take production quality, cast, story and performance out. Some people choose the easier way but if you want quality output, you would have to rent good equipment, pay for a few locations and props and those are going to cost you.
“We have to understand that comedy skits have come to stay as part of comedy segment or to complement it and players must uphold the integrity of not reducing the standards,” he said.
Consistency is key in drawing and maintaining a huge following to stay relevant and cement their fame. With such knowledge, young skit comedians are producing new materials almost every day.
But while skit Lords in Nigeria bank on the support of their celebrities and public figures who feature in their videos, that is quite rare in Ghana.
Even though Jeffrey agrees with the observation, he also challenged his colleague skit creators to approach our celebrities for collaboration.
“Well, I have seen a few collaborations with celebrities or known faces but perhaps, some skit makers have a certain phobia for popular figures.
“They probably feel their request will be turned down. Also, it could also be that they did and were turned down but I have not experienced it yet,” he stated.
Comparing Nigerian skit industry to Ghana’s would be quite laughable considering the size of their market, the level of support and patronage, as well as the kind of money they are making.
For some reason, Jeffrey’s followers have a mistaken belief that he is a Nigerian but he told Daily Graphic he is a thoroughbred Ghanaian and proud to make a significant contribution to Ghana’s creative industry at this time.
“Nigerians tapped into the space before Ghana, people have used that as a benchmark for greatness, so I smile when I read that I’m a Nigerian. However, if I will be more patriotic, I will say I want to be recognised as the Ghanaian doing well in comedy skits globally,” he added.
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