JCDC banks on laugh­ter

Jamaica Gleaner - - WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE - Michael Reck­ord Gleaner Writer

Com­edy work­shop or­gan­iser An­drew Brod­ber dis­cusses the Ja­maica Cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion’s speech com­pe­ti­tion syl­labus. HERE’S MONEY in the laugh­ter busi­ness, and that’s not a joke,” said An­drew Brod­ber, a spe­cial­ist in speech and arts de­vel­op­ment and train­ing with the Ja­maica Cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (JCDC). He was speak­ing to par­tic­i­pants in a work­shop on stand-up com­edy last Thurs­day at the Ranny Wil­liams En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre, Old Hope Road, St An­drew.

The in­for­ma­tion would have been ‘brawta’ to some of the two dozen or so par­tic­i­pants (mainly teach­ers) at­tend­ing the work­shop for in­for­ma­tion to pass on to JCDC com­edy work­shop par­tic­i­pant Suzanne Bea­dle, an Ar­denne High School teacher, per­forms a rou­tine. stu­dents plan­ning to en­ter the JCDC’s speech com­pe­ti­tion. While the stu­dents will be com­pet­ing for bronze, sil­ver and gold awards, the teach­ers heard how they could make real money out of com­edy.

In­ter­na­tion­ally known ed­u­ca­tor, co­me­dian, writer and pro­ducer Owen ‘Blakka’ El­lis was the work­shop’s fa­cil­i­ta­tor, who Brod­ber cited as an ex­am­ple of a fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful co­me­dian. Shortly af­ter, how­ever, Brod­ber’s words were given the prover­bial twist when El­lis said he is dras­ti­cally di­alling down his ap­pear­ances as a co­me­dian.

“I’m per­form­ing fewer shows now. It’s a plea­sure to be able to refuse re­quests for shows,” he said.

El­lis said that apart from get­ting older, he now gets more plea­sure from writ­ing than per­form­ing com­edy – he is the con­cep­tu­aliser, pro­ducer and chief writer for the tele­vi­sion se­ries The Ity and Fancy Cat Show. “I’m step­ping back and giv­ing the stage to the younger Garfield Ben­nett, a teacher at St Tekle Haimanot Ba­sic School, gives a joke at last Thurs­day’s JCDC com­edy work­shop. Owen ‘Blakka’ El­lis dis­cusses the art of com­edy at last Thurs­day’s JCDC work­shop, held at the Ranny Wil­liams En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre, Old Hope Road, St An­drew.

up-and-com­ing co­me­di­ans. I like work­ing be­hind the scenes and coach­ing co­me­di­ans,” he said.

In El­lis’ opin­ion, Christo­pher ‘Johnny’ Da­ley is the most promis­ing of Ja­maica’s many young comics.

Dur­ing a break in El­lis’ five­and-a-half-hour ses­sion, Brod­ber told me that the JCDC re­gards stand-up com­edy as one of the ‘com­mer­cial’ per­form­ing arts that it is de­vel­op­ing. He men­tioned dance and sto­ry­telling as two oth­ers that al­ready have na­tional and in­ter­na­tional im­pact.

DANCE, STO­RY­TELLING

“We’re in­volved in dance and sto­ry­telling world­wide,” he said, re­mind­ing me that L’Acadco dance com­pany di­rec­tor Dr L’An­toinette Stines has de­vel­oped a well-re­spected dance tech­nique, L’An­tech, and that Amina Black­wood-Meeks was, at that time, rep­re­sent­ing Ja­maica at an in­ter­na­tional sto­ry­telling fes­ti­val in Scot­land.

“We want to give stand-up com­edy the re­spect and recog­ni­tion that it de­serves as an­other vi­able Ja­maican speech prod­uct,” he said, not­ing that “we have dub po­etry, a uniquely Ja­maican form” as one cat­e­gory in the speech com­pe­ti­tion.

The new­est cat­e­gory is ‘Poem, Prose and Mono­logue’, spe­cially cre­ated for grad­u­ates of the Speech com­pe­ti­tion. “When peo­ple get to Class Five (the adult class), if they’re go­ing to (a per­form­ing arts) col­lege, they need a mono­logue for their au­di­tion,” Brod­ber ex­plained.

He said the speech cat­e­gory is the most di­verse of all the JCDC

com­pe­ti­tions and at­tracts the most en­tries. “We’re an oral so­ci­ety, and young­sters find they’re at least able to at­tempt the speech com­pe­ti­tion and we do find suc­cess com­ing out of many nooks and cran­nies of Ja­maica. A lot of gold medal­lists who go on to the na­tional fi­nals come from out­side the ur­ban ar­eas,” Brod­ber said.

Com­peti­tors are judged on voice pro­duc­tion (au­di­bil­ity, pro­jec­tion, tone, res­o­nance, colour­ing, tex­ture and pace), speech (ar­tic­u­la­tion, enun­ci­a­tion, pro­nun­ci­a­tion), pre­sen­ta­tion (cos­tume, stage pres­ence, per­for­mance, en­ergy, style, vis­ual im­pact) and in­ter­pre­ta­tion (com­pre­hen­sion, ex­pres­sion mood, feel­ing and be­liev­abil­ity).

To­wards the end of the work­shop, Brod­ber made an an­nounce­ment that caused quite a buzz among the par­tic­i­pants who would be get­ting a JCDC Cer­tifi­cate of Par­tic­i­pa­tion. He told them that the JCDC had be­gun dis­cus­sions with the HEART Trust/NTA to de­velop a four-day work­shop course that would re­sult in par­tic­i­pants get­ting JCDC/HEART Cer­tifi­cates of com­pe­tence in all the per­form­ing arts ar­eas, in­clud­ing stand-up com­edy.

The next per­form­ing arts work­shop at the en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre on Novem­ber 17 and 18 will fo­cus on drama and will be led by play­wright-pro­ducer As­ton Cooke. It will be fol­lowed by Tra­di­tional Folk Forms (in dance) on Novem­ber 23 and 24, fa­cil­i­tated by folk dance spe­cial­ist Linette Richards.

The work­shops be­gin at 9 a.m.

Peta-Gay presents a fish fry and birth­day party called Beat and Teach at 19 Cas­sava Piece. Menu: steamed fish, fried fish, lob­ster, fes­ti­val and more. Mu­sic by Chucky Four Star. Tick­ets $1,200 and $1,500.

Dan-Tay Pro­duc­tions presents Break­ing the Ice at Rocky Place, 87 Molynes Road, Kingston 10. Mu­sic by Mega Tone and Snippa Kid.

Cindy presents El­e­gant But Se­duc­tive at Double Deck, Rocky Val­ley, Stony Hill. Mu­sic by Stainless Supreme, K9 In­ter­na­tional, Burkey Hype, RXR Biggs Re­fresh­ments on sale. Team Scorch Dem Ca­malla LaTouche presents Fash­ion Def­i­ni­tion at 2a Chelsea Av­enue, Kingston 10. Hosted by Ca­malla LaTouche.

PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL RECK­ORD

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