Comedy often gives a pretty good idea of what the big issues of the minute are - watching back some old fast show episodes recently took me back to the zeitgeist of Britain in the mid to late '90s - the National Lottery, Britpop, Supermodels and Eco Warriors. Last night I went to a touring comedy sketch show that was doing an outdoor show at the cricket pitch up the road; year-round, reliably warm outdoor events being one of the great advantages of a tropical climate. I was glad that I hadn't been to such a show in my first few weeks here - I would have understood maybe two words - but these days I can understand the majority of what people say. Most of the time. The sketches did indeed give a pretty good picture of the issues of the day. So from that evidence alone, here's a top five list of issues in Guyanese society:
- Sexual mores and morality, and how these differ between Georgetown and the countryside: this sketch involved a promiscuous, sophisticated girl living in Georgetown, ashamed of her farming roots, teaching her religious, virginial cousin the ways of dating, Georgetown style. Which turn out to involve men in dresses, a new man every week, and large sums of money changing hands.
- Auntie Men - Like the UK in the days of Carry On and Are You Being Served, (and, it could be argued, Little Britain) there is a great divide between the prevailing attitude to homosexuality in real life (wrong, disgusting, sinful and peverted) and the reaction to gay people on stage (hilarious and wonderful). This show did have some strong (and well recieved) gay characters, which could be a sign of new attitudes gaining a foothold.
- Corrupt traffic policemen -
'How are we going to get paid today?'
'We need to start charging people for ADT.'
'Any Damn Thing!'
- Domestic Violence - in this case a skit about a woman falsely claiming to have been beaten by her husband, who has clearly been battered by her to a pulp. Of course the female magistrate sentences the hapless man to life in prison.
- Beauty Pageants - actually, this wasn't a sketch, just a bizarre and slightly disturbing part of the intermission. But beauty contests crop up everywhere, most bizarrely in my experience as part of the government run Amerindian Heritage Month celebrations. The contestants last night, the youngest of whom was about 10, came on stage to prove once and for all that there is no good answer to the question 'why should you win this beauty pageant?'. And further proving that if there is, 'because i'm smart, intelligent and intellectual' isn't it. This spectacle contrasted sharply with the genuinely smart and talented actresses involved in the show.