On Saturday March 14th, 2012 unquestionably the best of Jamaican comedy in the shape of Roza Roze aka Noel Ellis, Ian “Ity” Ellis, Alton “Fancy Cat” Hardware, Winston “Blakka Ellis and Kathy Grant also known as ‘The Country Helper’ took over Wingate High School in Brooklyn with their own brand of comedic madness and mayhem in their aptly entitled “Jamaican Laughter” show.
Compered by Bob DaSouza CEO of Transcontinental Shippers, the VEP Productions, Lanny G and Pleasure Promotions event started on time at 8:30 pm. First on stage – a lean and lithe Roza Roze (Noel Ellis) – the oldest child of Alton Ellis, described by his cousin Blakka as a natural comedian, Roza’s fine singing talent was also on display. Definitely topical and current his take on the latest trend of bleaching was right on point. Penning lyrics to some very popular melodies like “Break Up to Make Up” by the Stylistics “tell me what’s wrong – tell me why I never seem to make me happy” – he got the crowd warmed up and readily participation the chorus “bleach…bleach”. Singing to the tune of R Kelly’s “G-Spot” his ode to breadfruit definitely has a double meaning, aptly demonstrated by his gyrating body which left no doubt as to his love of ‘breadfruiting’! Moon-walking with trousers half-mast, the crowd was certainly enjoying his performance and in particular his Michael Jackson spoof.
Kathy Grant, “the Country Helper” from the Ity & Fancy Cat TV show mocked her character’s country origins and reminded all those born and bred in the Caribbean countryside of the simplicity of times past as she reminisced on the “virgin” test. Weaving her story she made reference to “pit” toilets, latrines, bodily functions and how to tell if a young girl was still virtuous. Memories were definitely evoked as the crowd slapped thighs and laughed loudly getting into the spirit. Kathy also has a pleasantly powerful voice which she demonstrated in her rendition of Adele’s anthem – “Someone
The show moved at a fast pace, with Blakka Ellis next up on stage. Perhaps more widely known as a comedian, Blakka is so much more – teacher, motivational speaker, lyricist, columnist and co-founder of family run Ellis International (a multi-purpose agency supporting and promoting the works of comics the world over) along with brothers Ian “Ity” and Aston “Robot” Ellis. Recently the recipient of an Actor Boy Award in Jamaica for his one man show ‘UN’, Blakka seems to have made a comeback to live performance following his very public retirement from stand-up comedy in 2009 after almost thirty years on stages around the world. Blakka’s timing and confidence whilst working with his audience is flawless, his easy conversational style makes you think you’re sitting in a bar hanging out with friends and just shooting the breeze. Is he funny? – Oh yes! Poking fun at Jamaicans and their so-called homophobia, he regales the crowd with the story (all while keeping a straight face) of the man in Jamaica pulled over by a cop and asked to take a breathalyzer. “Everybody know Jamaican man nah blow eena nutten in front of people”.
The headline act – Ity & Fancy Cat hit the stage to wild applause as they make their entrance from the well of the auditorium and quickly connects with and engages the audience with skits and gags galore. One can definitely see why their comic TV show is rated number 1 in the Caribbean. No topic is off limits, and neither it seems are some unwitting members of the audience, but it’s all in jest and no offence is taken by the couple in the audience who are lambasted for their nonchalant disregard of each other. I can’t remember if it is Ity or Fancy Cat that jokes this is the couple where the man probably told his partner to go on inside while he hangs back to scope out the scene to see if anyone is there that knows him! The comedy duo have known each other since childhood, having grown up in Jamaica’s Trench Town area and their rapport and ease at working together definitely attests to this long-standing relationship.
I’m laughing so hard I can’t believe it when the show ends – a good time is had by all and the audience – young and old, leave the venue very satisfied (some of them still recounting the jokes they’ve just heard chuckling anew). Other lucky patrons even have an opportunity to take photos with their favorite cast members.
Laughter soothes the soul and ‘Jamaican Laughter’ restores faith that every little thing’s gonna be alright.
About the Writer:
Sheron Hamilton-Pearson is a community activist, writer, blogger and radio host of The Conduit Show which airs every Sunday 6-9 pm EST at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/reggae-nation