Whose fault is it that Nollywood comedy movies miss way more than they hit? The writers? Actors? Producers? Viewer's sense of humour?
Maybe it's because I still remember watching classic comedy movies like "Pam Pam," "Ukwa," "One Dollar," "Sawam," "Lagos Na Wa," among others. I still have fond memories of comedy actors like Kunle Bamfeta, Sam Loco, Nkem Owoh, Okey Bakassi among others. But for some reason, I’m exhausted by comedies today.
These days, most comedy movies are more about trying too hard to make the audience and myself laugh. Instead of making me laugh, they make me uncomfortable and truly embarrassed for the actors who put in so much work to make a comedy movie - you would think I co-produced.
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Whose fault is it that Nollywood comedy movies miss way more than they hit? The writers? Actors? Producers? Is it the viewer's sense of humour? Most times, it seems like producers, directors, and actors have a hard time defining comedy, and this is because something that would make one person laugh, may not even birth a giggle from the other.
Most of these actors that feature in new comedy movies are super talented, but for whatever reason, not every actor has what it takes to say something 'funny,' and have it sound or truly be funny.
Most actors try too hard to be funny, and if that is not a turn-off, then I don't know what else could be. I enjoyed watching Alexx Ekubo in "The First Lady" in 2015. It's 2016, and I don't think he got as little as a giggle from me in his latest comic role "ATM."
IK Ogbonna and Helen Paul gave us some eye-rolling moments worth detaching corneas with their performances in "Ghana Must Go." In the 2015 movie "Suru L'ere," each character had something to bring to the table and help with plot development. But, if the movie depended solely on Beverly Naya to make it a funny one, there would have been nothing funny about it - good thing she didn't try so hard to be funny.
Lancelot Imaseun and Emem Isong are great filmmakers, but their comedy movies "Love is in the Hair," and "ATM" is far from being funny. It had its lead actors trying too hard to make the audience laugh.
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Do you think it is the audience and their sense of humour? Maybe we can blame their sense of humour on the law of diminishing returns. The principle states that the more you have of something, the less it’s worth. Most of these movies are tabula rasa. You have heard the jokes over and over, watched the plot over and over, it just has nothing new to make you laugh.
Unlike other genres, it is very difficult to keep things fresh in comedy, it takes a lot of talent to achieve that. Most Nollywood comedy films repeat same tired jokes, thus losing its creativity. How many times have you heard or watched the 'single lady,' 'Ekaette maid,' 'rape,' 'stammering,' 'disabled people,' 'drunk villager,' 'illiterate villager,' 'Warri no dey carry last' joke?
Another annoying and overused characteristic of Nollywood comedy movies is trying to make a funny character seem like an imbecile or mentally damaged person. There have to be ways of being normal and hilarious at the same time.
I personally didn't find award winning movies like "I Come Lagos" and "30 Days in Atlanta" funny. The characters were trying too hard to impress, with Nse Ikpe Etim's character totally unrealistic and funny in a negative way.
You want hilarious? Think about actors like Funke Akindele in "Jenifa's Diary," Kunle Bamfta, Bovi Ugbonma, Francis Odega in "Clinic Matters," Nkem Owoh, Bolaji Omusan, late Sam Loco, Kofi Adjorlolo among others.
I think the 'new Nollywood' doesn't have really hilarious comedy movies, characters or actors. Maybe it's the screenplay, directing, acting, or even our sense of humour in the serious country, but it is something.
Comedies these days are mostly movies with funny scenes, over used jokes, lame jokes, but not necessarily comedies.
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There have been a few comedies recently that give me hope that the genre can rebound and give us more memorable movies and TV shows moving forward. Mildred Okwo's "Suru L'ere," "Okon goes to School," Omoni Oboli's "Wives on Strike" and "Clinic Matters" have been the best comedy works of recent.
I can still remember the crowd erupting in laughter nearly every minute or whenever their favourite character came on. Can we please have more of those?
While I can't particularly blame anyone or factor for the recent comedy movies we churn out, I somehow think you just know when you are watching a badly scripted comedy movie, a talented actor interpreting a comic actor and failing at it, bad directing, and a generally horrible comedy movie.