A newly wed couple (Patricia & Julius) have just come in from work and want to watch a little television before calling it a day. The following conversation ensued…

Patricia: (Comes into the sitting room and makes for the remote) I wonder what interesting programme is showing at this time.

Julius: (Comes in behind her and sits on the couch) Perhaps an episode of Top Gear will interest you today.

P: Nah, I’m not in the mood for that. (She switches between several stations).

J: OK. Let’s see what’s airing again tonight then.

P: Bingo! Jenifa’s Diaries. I didn’t know they’ve started airing another …

J: Really? Jenifa’s what? You mean you’re still stuck on this unfunny show? (He stares at her in disbelief).

P: Come on, Jenifa is easily one of the funniest characters on TV nowadays. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and the series is definitely heaven-sent.

J: Are you kidding me? What exactly is funny about a supposedly semi-literate rural folk trying to grapple with civilization? Tell me.

P: Jeez! Do you know what comedy is or is meant to achieve? Quit analyzing the show and let’s enjoy it.

J: Listen to yourself, Pat. What is this unfunny comedy meant to achieve? In this age and time, and after we watched the likes of Village Headmaster and New Masquerade decades ago, we are still stuck with updated versions in 2017. Like really?!

P: Honey chill. Why are you over-analysing the show? Jenifa 1, 2,3 were hits and so is the series. With the way you are going about it, I would think I’m daft for relishing the show. But alas! I’m not the only one who enjoys watching the show. Everyone I know loves the character.

J: And have you paused to consider why everyone you know loves the character? What’s particularly comedic about it? I mean, Jenifa like Akpos and the other guy -Brother Jekwu, all typify the same characters -underprivileged folks that get exposed to the urban life. Have you now thought of what this does to us in the long run? It defines us as a people. I mean, after watching any of these movies, shouldn’t we continue to expect folks in developed countries to ask if we still live on trees or if we’ve heard of the internet?

P: Come on, that’s not the cause. Jenifa, Akpos and Brother Jekwu are just demonstrations of what happens in real life everywhere. Yes, they may be stretching the narrative but I don’t think they are entirely wrong. Again, if these movies are as bad as you claim, how come their producers made mega-bucks out of them? Funke Akindele keeps winning awards for the movie and series, and AY won himself a place in the Guinness Book of World records because of the Akpos character. Certainly, they must be doing something right?

J: And therein lies the problem. You just reinforced what I’m trying to say. They keep winning awards and loads of money not because the movies are the best demonstrations of Funke’s and Ayo’s acting prowess but because they emphasise the narrative that the awarding organisations have about us -backward, clumsy, illiterate, sub-human… need I say more?

P: Wow! All of these just because of a 30minutes comedy? But look at our foreign counterparts with shows like Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean or Frank Spencer in Some Mothers do Have Em. Aren’t those shows of people making a fool of themselves? Dude, you need to take a chill pill.

J: I wish I could but until we learn to celebrate positive values as a people we won’t go anywhere in this country. I mean, if we keep producing movies just because of the awards they will win or money they will get from Idumota then we are in trouble as a people. Can you imagine what our kids or the generation after us will describe this time in our nationhood as we allow movies like this to define us? Speaking of children, I hope you are aware that not a few of them have adopted Jenifa’s unique vocabulary at the expense of their formal English grammar. In fact, I’m not surprised that they flunk exams easily nowadays.

P: Wow! I never knew. I do recall we grew up watching the likes of Chief Zebrudaya alias 4:30 and Jegede Sokoya from New Masquerade and we didn’t flunk our English language exams. Methinks Jenifa, Akpos and Brother Jekwu have done a good job of highlighting the gap between rural and urban living, thus helping the children appreciate the divergence better. Remember last year’s incident in the neighbour’s house when their cousin, Hyginius, came to spend the Christmas with them and almost burnt down the house on account of his inability to use the gas cooker. That’s a typical Akpos right there, hun.

J: Yeah, I agree. But do you think Hyginius found that incident funny? Do you think those in his class (for want of a better word) laugh out loud like you do when they watch Jenifa’s Diaries? I don’t think so. If they don’t find it funny, then people like you who hold your sides and roll on the floor while watching these shows only laugh because you consider yourselves higher beings than the goofing characters. That, to my mind, sounds like a condescending attitude or laughing at someone else’s expense. You all need to check yourselves.

P: That’s deep. I’d give all you’ve said some thought. But for now, can I enjoy the remaining 15 minutes of the show?

J: Yeah. Sure. I’d just go grab a beer downstairs (and he leaves the apartment).

Which side of the divide are you? Let me know in the comment section below or on social media on Twitter and Facebook

piece by SANCT

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Your Turn!

  • I am with the wife, Patricia…..True Julius has a very valid point. We don’t laugh because we feel we’re better than them, we laugh because we know its a TV show and so not real. I try not to over analyse things which is why I enjoy Jenifa (I however have not been able to stand Akpors….for some reason).

  • I’ll stick with the husband, most times we laugh at people’s predicament, to them it’s not funny. But to us who feel we know better it looks funny. Reason I don’t laugh when people speak bad English or spell wrongly. That person needs to know the correct thing to do and you can’t achieve teaching someone of you are laughing at them.

  • Personally, I did not like 30 days in Atlanta…I felt it was over-exaggerated comedy and Ramsey was way funnier than Ay (I have a bias against Ay…I think he forces his jokes).
    That established, I’m with Patricia on this one. Yeah, we know most of these comedies are over-exaggerated and blah but it is a TV show, I just want to laugh. I have enough troubles to break a back to now start analysing trivial stuff…abeg.
    Of course, we need to do more. Maybe that’s why I particularly liked Bovi’s It’s Her Day…it was not over-exaggerated and very relatable to as well as Skinny Girl in Transit.
    But to be fair, Jenifa’s Diary is not really that exaggerated o…I have heard people that talk like Funke and Falz…no jokes! That’s how they talk and with that H factor.

  • At the risk of being termed unpatriotic, iv never and will never like Jenifa’s diary. Im a huge critic of Nollywood and African movies/ soaps.. It takes a lot to sit and watch African magic so I hardly bother.
    I find Jenifa and her English repulsing to say the least.. Don’t know how best to sugarcoat this.. Its a no-no. So I guess I kinda side with the husband.

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