• January 17th, 2020

Has comics any ethical limits?

 Paheja Siririka

WINDHOEK- South African comedian Trevor Noah became a topic of discussion because of  his presumed insensitive joke about the Indian-Pakistani war, which he said would be entertaining, adding   “it would also be the longest war of all time - another dance number”. 

Considering that India and Pakistan have fought two wars and a limited conflict over the Kashmir state, many feel Noah was insensitive towards the situation. Noah stood firm on his joke, “It’s amazing to me that my joke about the conflict in India and Pakistan trended more than the story of the actual conflict itself. Sometimes it seems like people are more offended by the jokes comedians make about an issue than the issue itself,” he tweeted. 

Comedians all over the world have done the same, covering sensitive subjects in an insensitive way. The question is, what ethics if any do comedians adhere to or should adhere to? Local comedian Fernando Tafish thinks “as comedians, we need to consider other people’s religion, culture and so forth”. According to Tafish, comedians have always been known to trick the system. “We are expected to convey sensitive messages in a comedic way,” he saYS. To fellow comedians, Tafish says  during scripting or coming up with content, and during rehearsal, they will know if something doesn’t sound right and that will be the cue for them to leave it. Tafish confesses to making an insensitive joke. “I have learned that the hard way,” he says. “I made a joke about the rhino poaching, I first played an audio clip of an Oshiwambo speaking lady, condemning rhino poaching in the Oshiwambo language and then I played another audio clip of Damara/Nama speaking man, condemning the same thing in Damara/Nama,” he explains. “I think we should address this issue in Chinese/Mandarin because we know them and they are the ones doing the poaching, “he points out. 

The people who called Tafish out were not even Chinese, they were Namibians who said Chinese are boosting this economy and don’t deserve to be treated as such by Tafish. Tafish says comedians should be extra smart when it comes to delivering their jokes so that they do not insult or offend anyone. 

 “It depends on the time the joke is being told,” Big Mich Gaoseb says.
“Everybody is ready to be offended by anything so comedians have to be very careful,” adds Gaoseb. He further says that you can’t make jokes about people dying and expect them not to react. As a comedian, Gaoseb himself has also been dragged on social media for a joke many thought was insensitive.  “I was trying to tell people how we should stop GBV and that society should open up more to men and start giving them that sympathy where they can also have a place to cry,” he explains. Social media users attacked him for making it sound like he was making fun of the victims of GBV. “They took it way out of context,” he says. Gaoseb concludes that comedians should have smart ways of dealing with comedy that is derived from sensitive issues.


New Era Reporter
2019-03-08 10:57:30 | 10 months ago

Be the first to post a comment...

You might also like...