With the increase in people’s access to technology, it seems there has been a rise in the rate at which Jamaican comedy has been making its way into overseas markets.
“All of these places that we are going to is because of the popularity of our show. For the first seven months of this year we have had a lot of overseas gigs. Every year we go abroad but the increase weh we a experience might be due to the show and the presence of our skit on YouTube,” he said.
Ellis, who returned from the United States (US) earlier this week, said the duo had shows in the tri-state area and in Los Angeles, which he described as the heart of comedy in the United States.
Performing there for the first time was not an easy experience as they had to deliver their set in standard English, which took something away from the duo’s delivery style.
“We haffi recognise that we haffi centralise the material so that other nationalities can enjoy it. This is a challenge for us ’cause we can’t go deh go flop,” he said.
Nonetheless, “what we learned there is that our standard haffi be on par with the world,” he said, noting that they will be going to St Martin and Trinidad next month.
Being in Los Angeles was also a learning experience because the duo met and watched top comedians there.
Although having shows overseas aid their careers, this is somewhat at the expense of the Ity and Fancy Cat Show. However, he said they have been using the opportunity to record some of their skits on the road. In the long-term, he said, this will add some level of diversity to the show.
“We were gunning for April but some of the overseas engagements will make us have to rearrange our schedule,” Ity explained, noting that the new series is likely to start in May.
Local comedic plays have also been going abroad quite frequently, especially with characters like Shebada and Delcita.
Writer and actor Garfield ‘Bad Bwoy Trevor’ Reid says his plays have been well received in overseas markets. He said they have been to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and various Caribbean islands.
“Once it is promoted right, the outcome is wonderful. So far we have been doing some great shows in the tri-state area. It is profitable in terms of the outcome and timing. You can make your money before the play even starts,” he said.
“Because you are bringing a piece of Jamaica to the Diaspora, a lot of people start log on to it. They can relate to everything that is relating to Jamaica.”
Since ‘Bashment Granny’, he said all of his plays have been overseas. Some of the plays are ‘Like Father Like Son’, ‘Bashment Granny 2’, ‘Di Driva’, ‘The Plumber’ and ‘Money Worries’. While ‘GhettOut’ and ‘Ova Mi Dead Body’ should make their rounds in the near future.
Reid further explained that the plays were going abroad more frequently because of technological advances.
“There is an increase in the level of support because of technology: Facebook, Twitter, Internet and mobile phones. Once the play is nice, word of mouth really sells the product. It is really reaching out to the masses and we appreciate it. Encouragement sweetens labour. I don’t think we have enough plays to fill the market right now,” Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.
So huge was the support for ‘Bashment Granny’ that it was made into a movie in 2009, but did not hit theatre screens until 2010. The film premiered in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
Rohan Gunter also believes that comedians are getting more shows overseas. In addition to getting more shows, he says the response from the audience is sometimes bigger outside Jamaican shores.
“We are well received. We get even better than what we get in Jamaica. They show us more love. We get bigger laughs from the audience. Here we perform all over the place, so when we go abroad we are more celebrities,” he told The Sunday Gleaner, noting that his Mi Nah Laugh DVDs have led to more people requesting him for shows overseas.
While he does get shows, he said comedic plays are “taking a cut out of the stand-up comedy market.” As a result, he believes the demand for his kind is lower.
Writer: Sadeke Brooks