OPINION: A comedian as president in Ukraine. Is Guyana overdue?

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2019, 7:55 by Writer

by GHK Lall

A comedian has won the race for president in Ukraine. No, it is not a laughing matter. If it happened over there, it can happen here, and I am pondering. It has occurred several times already in this hilarious place, and there are some heavy bets placed on history repeating itself. I can imagine a meeting of heads of state between Guyana and Ukraine. It would be Comedy Central; even an evening at the Improv. Bolshoi Theatre, it would be not.

I admit that, at first, I was doubled up with laughter when reading of that result, then something hit me on the head. Being the kind of guy that I am, it had to be a hard hit. Thus, I came to my senses. This comedy business is no joking matter. Consider the following, please.

In any regular situation, the jester turned political operator has to hold the attention of his audience. He takes a line and runs with it; he cannot tangle either his lines or his feet. Even before the confines of a well-prepared and friendly gathering, the man providing the laughs has to go beyond the banality of slapstick and be possessing of a story line that is intriguing, as well as suspending on hands and knees as to the punchline. It cannot be the same stale old jokes resurrected and refurbished and then repeated. That just will not do anywhere as in the good old times. Then I remember that this is Guyana, and it does not matter. Just get down to the race and on with the race, which promises to be the mother of all races. Yes, I know, that is not a laughing matter. Not in the least, and certainly not for me.

Here is the buildup: for a political comedian to be successful, he must have a sharp memory as to what he represents, what he projects, what he intends to achieve. His own story must be, shall I say, straight and sweet. Think of that legendary American political humorist of old, Mark Russell, and the picture should become clearer to lesser minds as to what is expected and demanded in a grueling and unforgiving field of work. I encourage locals to zero in on the operative term that I share: political humorist. This calls for stirring intellect, proven credentials and track record in those places that matter; otherwise, it is the same old story of appearing to be, and actually being, merely a regular joker. Parliament in Guyana is blessed with a history of them; in fact, with few exceptions, a whole pack of almost sixty-five such glittering entertainers. Deh caan’t even count. A fresh, new pack is overdue; a pack that is more conscientious and patriotic and self-sacrificing than the current one so plagued with jokers pretending at being kings and queens, even aces, and living one Guyanese episode after another of the Game of Thrones.

The Guyanese political comics could learn a lot from Comrade Zelensky. In view of his Russian roots, the now successful funny man from Ukraine should serve as an acceptable, embraceable role model for a segment of the Guyanese political party intelligentsia. That is, the commissars. He does not display any Western capitalist taint; none of these nonsensical obsessions over character and tender boards and ethics. Or truth in academic advertising (great care has to be taken to avoid any Justin Smollett fabrications or misuse of very sensitive race materials). Or fading leadership championing. Come on! Enough with the foolishness. This is serious business. Just get down to the issue that is all about and only about the race.

The mighty one, Muhammad Ali, was smart enough to limit himself to declaring, “I am the Greatest.” In spite of gaining wide notoriety (and following and loving) for being the renowned Louisville Lip, he was intellectually honest to not fall into the self-imprisonment of saying that he was the best or brightest. Now, that is what I call the real education of the mean streets. I can still hear the chants: Ali! Ali! Ali! Guyanese political aspirants should learn. The authentic article, as embodied in a sophisticated comedian like Eddie Murphy, knows how to construct a memorable joke: it was usually based on truth and facts and real-life occurrences, as in Police Academy, and not some imagined institution sold for the vote of weak applause. And weaker laughter. The sharp and politically astute then realize that the joke is on them.

Now, since a like-minded prankster, President Zelensky, has done it in Ukraine, I am weighing (no joke) the thought of doing so myself here in fun-loving and fun-filled Guyana. Now, that would be the day that the Lord has made. I am going to have a serious word with Him, and that is no fibbing. Apologies are in order, if I have offended any objecting feminists as to the gender of the satirist above. After all, made in His own image. Blessed Easter Season and keep the faith, Guyanese. Keep on laughing, too. All things are possible…