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Keith vs 'Shebada'

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

In many ways, watching popular roots actor Keith 'Shebada' Ramsey is like watching the comic book character, mild-mannered Bruce Banner, transform into The Hulk.

On stage, Shebada, like The Hulk, is larger than life, instantly grabbing the attention of persons around him. Off stage, Keith Ramsey is more like Bruce Banner, a bit more shy, but with big potential living inside him. When
The Gleaner
interviewed Ramsey recently, it was surprising to find the normally unreserved character, soft-spoken with hardly anything to say.

He explained, "Keith Ramsey is very shy, just that, there's nothing much to Keith Ramsey, but if you are asking about Shebada, now who is very ostentatious, witty and all." After a little coaxing, the actor spoke about himself, his alter ego, career and big plans for the future. A past student of Clan Carthy High, Ramsey always had dreams of being on stage when he was growing up in Franklyn Town, St Andrew.

From the beginning, his family was always supportive, his father having given him his stage name. 'Shebada', Ramsey explained, is a variation of his childhood nickname 'Shabada'. According to Ramsey, 'Shabada' means, "a piece of land in Africa." Years later his family is still coming to see his performances, not surprised that he got so popular.

Ramsey started his theatrical journey in 2006 when he was signed by Stages Production after placing third, he said, due to "politics", in the first year of the television stand-up talent comedy show,
Comedy Buss
. He said, "Well I got started in church at the Franklyn Town New Testament Church of God, where I came out secular via
Comedy Buss

Roots plays

Comedy Buss
it was on to
Bashment Granny
, one of the most popular roots plays in recent history, drawing in crowds in the thousands. "My experience of the first play was very frightening, which I overcome the first night," he said. Without any formal training, Ramsey soon took on more roles, using his natural charisma and often disposing of any form of script, preferring to ad lib and add his own sense of humour. More roles in a variety of plays soon came along with
Bashment Granny 2
Shebada Comes To Town, Like Father Like Son, Di Driver
and his most recent play being
Serious Business

The actor is working on a yet-to- be-named summer production, as well as
Bashment Granny (The Movie)
which was filmed in England and Jamaica. He told
The Gleaner
about the difference between working on a movie and a play saying, "you exert yourself more during the play than the movie, in front of the camera you need less expression, less mannerisms."

There is also a
Shebada Come to Town
movie in the works, as well as a scripted sitcom being made for local television. For Ramsey, however, his biggest dream is of going to Hollywood with the likes of Jet Lee and Tom Cruise. He has total confidence in his abilities to make it to the biggest of screens.