Comedy specials are premium content. Just ask Netflix why they shell out huge bucks for them from stand-up acts of repute. As valuable pieces of content, as they are, the comedy space in Nigeria has not caught on.
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For all our thirst for new content, we do not get a lot of usable comedy content from Nigerian comics. But every now and again, the universe throws up a good piece of comedic gold and I think as far as that goes in the Nigerian context, Seyi Brown’s Nigerian American is just that.
Brown builds an entire hour of laughter on the contradictions of being a Nigerian in America. Nothing he says is new in the context of Nigerian comedy but the perspective is highly refreshing.
Nigerian comics are stereotypically loud but this one cuts a rather laid back presence. Brown does not see the need to that loud or rambunctious as the performer seems very in tune with his audience as they are with him. It was mostly made up of Nigerians naturally.
The jokes by themselves do not come off as new but what is particularly refreshing is the man’s perspective. This may be typical to any comic worth his or her salt but it is awfully lacking in Nigeria’s comedy scene.
There is something in our society that really cages the Nigerian comic, consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes, it is self-censorship or censorship from older acts or just poverty and the need to escape it.
In many ways, this special spells just how stifled the Nigerian comic is in Nigeria because the jokes are not really revolutionary in any way. Brown comes off as really comfortable on stage. Not that he has much to fear as free speech is a very American ideal.
Most of Brown’s jokes are observational in nature. Naturally, the Nigerian/American experience is sufficient source material for any comic worth his salt and Brown milked it well enough and it worked a treat as his audience is largely made up of Nigerian immigrants just like himself.
The first 30 to 45 minutes of this flick make for a good watch as he does just that-milk the vagaries of being a Nigerian in the USA. Brown explores materials on just how Nigerians and Africans see life generally as opposed to how Americans do and how they act as a result.
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He lampoons Nigerian mums, riffs about how poverty colours romance in Nigeria as opposed to how it is in America. Particularly refreshing and interesting is the joke about how Nigerians relate to food.
Brown riffs that “Nigerians do not understand how Americans can talk while they eat because we see food as an enemy that must be destroyed”.
It is brilliant how he links the joke to why he does not like going out on dates. The joke about taking romantic walks hits home too. Probably one of the best in the set. Brown says that “Nigerians do not do walks in the park because we have been trekking all our lives even to get here”.
Also interesting is Brown’s take on the discrimination Africans endure from African-Americans in America. Brown quips that African-Americans remember you are “fresh off the boat” when you piss them off. The joke speaks to the ongoing conversation of discrimination between Africans and African-Americans on Twitter which is an extension of the real-life conversations as more African emigrate to the West and integrate into Western societies.
All in all, this is a decent piece of comedy. It is not the kind that will live long in the memory, sadly. Good comedy is both funny and edgy as well as unapologetic. Brown’s comedy depends a lot on the funny. Both his and the jokes.
Beyond that, he doesn’t cut a particularly edgy or arresting presence on stage nor do the jokes have shock value. Many say the end goal of being a comedian is being funny. But funny does not make you memorable. The show becomes cliché after a while as it devolves into those cliché jokes about Nollywood, Hollywood and Bollywood films and then goes to turn it into a church service with something resembling a sermon.
Not that one has a problem with a religious professional comic but that part of the show came off as an excuse to close out the performance rather than an actual part of the script.
You can watch the full comedy show on Netflix and come up with your own judgement.
Featured Image Source: Netflix
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