They promised a bellyful of laughter and that is exactly what viewers got as they tuned into the inaugural virtual staging of Ity and Fancy Cat’s annual ‘Christmas Comedy Cook-up’. Forced to go online this year as a result of the prolonged ban on entertainment events, the show still saw an envious line-up of top-class comedic acts from home and abroad. In fact, had it not been for the jokes from the performers about adjusting to the online space, viewers would have completely forgotten that they were not physically present at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

The show, which was aired on its usual December 26 date, saw performances from seasoned comedians such as Leighton Smith, Kathy ‘Tan Deh Deh’ Grant, Dahlia Harris, Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis and Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley, among others. Opening the night’s jam-packed itinerary was Leighton Smith. With his usual laid-back, unassuming yet clinically precise delivery, Smith no doubt had the virtual viewing land in tears as he served up one sizzling joke after the other. Not one punchline was missed as the veteran comedian made light of the COVID-19 situation and its effect on the entertainment industry.

“Thank God dis yah show keep. I called Ity and I said to him, ‘Yuh affi keep dis, innu, because a it mi plan fi use pay me rent, it affi keep,’” he said, highlighting how hard the sector shutdown has been for creatives like himself. “Can you imagine if technology never out and COVID come in, anuh the virus woulda kill we innu, just the fact dat yuh nah see nobody, hear from nobody alone woulda kill we. Unuh see how me dress up nice and come yah, a because mi know me a go live and thing, and me feel good and new.”


Still on the topic of COVID-19, Smith sought to reassure viewers that the virus’ reign of terror must come to an end eventually. “Me study COVID and I’m here to tell the world why dem nuffi be afraid of it. Anything make a China, it nuh last long. And now that COVID come from China, it nah go last long,” he said, while still imploring persons to be careful not to catch it. “But mi a beg unu, try nuh ketch it; for if yuh ketch it, yuh know say yuh nah go last long, either,” he joked.

There were no stones left unturned as each performer creatively turned the harsh realities of life with COVID-19 into comedic relief. From the struggles of being locked in a house with one’s kids for almost a year to the heartaches of online schooling, every COVID-19 issue was made light of. One woman who must have had viewers rolling on the floors of their bedrooms or living rooms was Kathy ‘Tan Deh Deh’ Grant. The comedian, who doubles as a teacher, joked about parents now having to take on the role of teachers as they supervise their children in online school. “Having the kids at home stress unu, nuh true? Mi nuh wah school open back. Unu fi dead a unu yard because unu have one a unu yard and it a stress unu out so, can you imagine me wid 45 a fi unu pickney in front a me? Stress me out. Dem fi stay home because unu know say unu nuh appreciate teachers,” she said. “When Teachers’ Day come, why we can’t get a Range Rover? What is wrong wid a likkle Range Rover or an inverter AC? Unu affi do better because unu nuh see weh unu a go chu? Unu need fi take care a teachers more.” The jokes kept coming as Grant delivered a superb set that went by so quickly, she didn’t even realise when her time was up. Had it been an in-person event, I am sure she would have been called back on stage to give an encore performance.

Other noteworthy performances came from Canadian comedian Jay Martin and American comedienne Gina Brillione. Seasoned local acts Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis and Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley also turned in good performances. Ellis took viewers on a trip down memory lane as he reminisced on the entertainment days of yesteryears, highlighting the differences between then and now, and why the music of the past still lives on. Daley, who was the evening’s closing act, said COVID taught him a lot and urged viewers not to take the frustrations of 2020 into the new year.


Source: Jamaica Gleaner