I was at an event recently and I found myself mentally rolling my eyes as the comedian who had been hired to entertain tried his best to be funny. I always appreciate the efforts of entertainers, I know it is not easy to get up in front of an audience of strangers to sing, dance or crack jokes. I think comedians often get a raw deal because they try their best to be funny, but sadly, many of them are not funny people. If you are not a funny person, you cannot be a good comedian. Most of the comedians out there today struggle to sound funny. They recycle the same jokes from gig to gig, and they are often called out for their insensitive or crass sense of humour. As I saw there listening to the same old joke about young women in the audience remembering to hold onto their husbands and instructions to the older women not to botherabout their old and useless husbands being stolen by anyone, I thought about the difference between a good belly laugh and the polite laughter that usually greets public entertainment. In the times we live in, there is very little to laugh about. Sometimes we simply laugh because we don’t want to cry. The Yorubas say, ‘A matter that is beyond weeping calls for laughter’.
Today I woke up to the news that the famous comedian, Moses Adejumo, popularly known as Baba Sala has passed away. My father was a HUGE fan of Baba Sala. We not only watched his weekly comedy show every Wednesday at 8pm, my father took us to watch his stage performances. Baba Sala did not have to open his mouth or crack a joke before you howled with laughter. The almost permanent look of befuddlement on his face was enough to get you going. Every time I see the British Comedian Mr Bean, I think of Baba Sala. Through the lenses of comedy, we would see Baba Sala at his best and worst as a husband, father, friend and neighbor. I was probably too young to fully understand why my father was such a big fan of comedy. My father was a very serious man who had no time for nonsense. He however loved the performing arts, and he always found time to go to the theatre. I think I know now. We get so focused on running the world through our daily endeavours, we don’t realise when the world begins to run us. That is when we find ourselves bereft of humour and laughter. Even when we find ourselves in air-conditioned halls with someone paid to make us laugh, we find it hard to summon a chuckle because the comedians are either not funny enough for our liking, or we simply do not have enough joy within us to respond.
I love it when I find humour when I least expect it. On May 12th, during the primary elections in Ekiti State, the security was very tight. However, a young man attempted to get through the security cordon. He was stopped and searched and under his shirt, there were a handful of charms hanging from his neck. He admitted that he had been given the charms to make him invisible so that he could enter the hall undetected. The look on his face when he was caught was incredible, something like, ‘You mean you can see me’? I laughed so hard my tummy hurt. In the midst of all the tension and drama, I was thrilled to have something to laugh about. It meant a lot to me.
What I do not find funny is the fate that befell Baba Sala in his later years. After a lifetime of using his talents to entertain generations of people, he fell on rather hard times. His acting career took a big hit when one of his movies was pirated. Then he battled illness for years with many death rumours trailing him. I know that many artistes have advocated for a Trust Fund that will enable the public support the industry in this area. I hope that this is something that is being addressed, it is a shame that many of those who inspired us with their craft over the years are living in penury.
When was the last time you laughed? Really laughed, the kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes or hurts your tummy? Baba Sala has passed on to the great beyond after a life well lived using his God given talents. We all have our own skills and talents, yet, without a sense of humour, life is dull and colourless. In the midst of all the pain, misery and suffering around us, let us put a smile on someone’s face. Let us remember we can’t make anyone smile if we take ourselves too seriously. Where is your sense of humour? No matter how hard things get, there is always something to make us laugh. A troublesome neighbor who gets drunk and falls into a gutter. A womanizing husband who collapses on his latest mistress. The preening Pastor who keeps getting his predictions wrong. The politicians who dance, sing and scamper up trees. The social media drama Kings and Queens. Soon, the Oscars will have a Best Social Media Performance category. Share the joy. Laugh a little. Laugh a lot. Rest in peace Baba Sala, you have earned it. Have a great week everyone.