Rich laughter from ‘deestent’ crowd at church hall
With names like Diego the Cross-Eyed Villain, Tan Deh Deh, Duffy and Blakka, it was not surprising that the first-timers in the audience – and there were quite a few – at Saturday’s Laugh Out! Comedy series were a wee bit apprehensive. But it was all good in the neighbourhood and, for the most part, the laughter rang out rich, and sometimes even a bit raucous.
The lone female on the line-up, Kathy ‘Tan Deh Deh’ Grant, was quick to show her mettle. Quite forward, she wasted no time in chastising the crowd inside the Sts Peter & Paul church hall – later described as ‘uptown’ – for their “deestent” behaviour. “Oonu too deestent. All like oonu cyaan go a town,” she ripped into the audience, simply because their sounds of approval were too tame. She explained that she was used to reactions that are “loud and brawling”, adding for effect, “I’m a teacher. Mi nuh fraid a nuh gyal, nuh bwoy.”
It became apparent that this refrain was a not-so-subtle reference to recent viral video in which a teacher was seen threatening a student. As the ‘deestent’ crowd warmed to her, Tan Deh Deh recounted the hardships of a teacher’s life and pointed out that the image of a teacher being weighed down with jheri curls and two or three bags filled with cartridge paper was a thing of the past. “A bare bad gyal teacher inna classroom now ‘cause a bad people we ah deal wid,” she said by way of explanation.
The good teacher would not be worth her salt had she not mentioned the name Ruel Reid, the discarded former minister of education, and she did a song in tribute to him, Never Enough. Tan Deh Deh also had advice for men in general. It went something like this: “You can’t ugly and dunce at the same time; you can’t ugly and mean. Pick a struggle.” She ended her set by seeking a husband for her mother, or rather, trying to auction off the lady. “Mother going once…mother going twice……”
For headliner, Blakka Ellis, a lecturer at the Edna Manley College, the Laugh Out! stage provided an opportunity for him to try to repair the name of the institution. Dufton ‘Duffy’ Shepherd, who had preceded him, made his exit in colourful style, “Uptowners, thanks for having me. Big up oonu…!” Duffy didn’t need to use the expletive, because the ‘uptowners’ knew exactly what he was referring to. The incident at Edna Manley’s graduation in which the valedictorian ended his speech in like manner. Blakka said that was at the graduation and thata the 12 seconds at the end of the speech “should not be used to define Edna”.
Blakka’s routine was a tribute in reverse to his outrageous ‘Auntie’, while touching on topics such as violence in today’s lyrics, the indomitable spirit of Jamaicans and the three men who are present at every stage show – Jump Di Fence, Beat Di Gate and Beg A Bly.
Opening act Diego The Crossed-Eyed Villain poked fun at himself throughout his routine, whether it was his “cast-eye” or his rather big nose. “People seh me and Andrew Holness related. But who nose?”