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Entertainment of Wednesday, 26 August 2020


Stand-up comedians relive their lives before coronavirus

Foster Romanus and Jeneral Ntatia Foster Romanus and Jeneral Ntatia

“My last performance was ‘Are We Safe’ at the National Theatre, that was my last time; I think it was in March. At the time, there were rumours that COVID-19 was in town, people were even scared to come,” renowned stage comic actor, Jeneral Ntatia recalled his “glory days”.

Life before Coronavirus was priceless. Live performance and stage play lovers had the dates of all upcoming shows marked on their calendar.

Ghanaians have grown to love comic shows and production houses have recorded quite an impressive number of audience at their show. It was good business until the unexpected outbreak of the virus in the country.

Two of Ghana’s celebrated comedians, Jeneral Ntatia and Foster Romanus tell GhanaWeb of their experiences and challenges in this COVID-19 era.

“We miss our live audience”

“Mostly when you are performing and you have the reactions of the live audience, it gives you the motivation to pull out the best but now that is gone due to COVID-19; there is no social gathering. It has really affected us, all shows have been cancelled,” Jeneral Ntetia tells GhanaWeb.

Ghanaian comedian, Foster Romanus who doubles as a TV presenter said the joy that comes with performing in a room full of people cannot be replaced by virtual comedy shows.

“When you say a joke, you ask yourself, are they laughing? You can’t hear them laugh; we are used to having people respond to our punchlines. Virtual is not really the best option.”

Ghana, like many other countries who have been hit by the Coronavirus, has had some of its hard-hit regions going under lockdown.

Despite the current ease in restrictions, there is still a ban on social gathering. Theatres, cinema’s and the night clubs remain closed.

“Be creative or lose out”

Instead of waiting for the virus to die-off, creatives in the stage play and comedy industry are devising new ways to reach their audience.

Jeneral Ntetia tells GhanaWeb that sponsors are turning away from sponsoring their shows because they believe that their virtual shows are not attracting the millions of viewers that they previously had.

This only means that more has to be done to survive in this desperate time.

“If you are not creative, you will just be in the house and not be able to do anything. The virus has really affected us, we cannot play our shows at the National Theater, it is really bad but then you just have to be creative to come up with something that will get you going. For instance, we are doing virtual plays now which is an alternative to the stage plays that we do but here we don’t have the live audience to add to the things that we do. The energy is mostly not there but you have to push yourself to the limit that you feel that people watching on social media do enjoy and have fun,” he tells.

“Counting our lose”

“I will not be able to speak for other production houses… but normally, when we stage a play and it goes very well, we will be looking at a profit of about GH¢30,000 when you get a full house, that also comes with sponsorship. Now we are not staging those plays it is like we are losing close to that amount of money,” said Jeneral Ntatia.

Foster Romanus recounted that he last performed in March just before Accra and parts of Kumasi went into lockdown.

He adds that the virus has taken a toll on their business explaining that “Due to the virus, almost every booking that we had already agreed on was to be cancelled. Those that we had processed had to be put on hold and monies refunded. We lost huge monies…Coronavirus affected the arts in general, it’s not just comedy, music, poetry, theatre and the rest… Most of us do MC on the side, all the weddings were also put on hold.”