Comedy is one of the fastest growing sectors in Uganda’s entertainment industry. Many youths, just like in music, are finding refuge in this industry and are making a fortune out of it. We have weekly comedy shows and not a month goes by without having a comedian staging a solo event but lately, comedians are subjected to criticism because of their content. The latest being Mariachi over his religious remarks.
In one of his recent shows, Mariachi is said to have disrespected the Muslim community.
Mariachi allegedly said that he will convert to Islam because “Muslims do not shave their beards while the women do not plait their hair to save money.”
It is further alleged that he said “Muslims do not buy speakers for their Mosques just to save money.” These are just two amongst several utterances found rather disrespectful by sections of Muslims at the Comedy Store.
With these remarks, Mariachi was criticized by a number of Moslems in videos and on social media even with a number of apologies.
Mariachi revealed that he did not intentionally attack the Muslim faith as he makes skits about all the other religions in society and further went on to promise to be more careful going forward.
Mariachi is not in the same boat alone. Other comedians like Salvado, Maulana and Reign among others have been attacked regarding their jokes but when is too much in comedy?
Well according to Rowan Atkinson, a comedy legend who is also known as Mr Bean, every joke has a victim and that it is comedy’s job to offend.
While speaking to The Irish Times, the actor railed against “cancel culture” and the emergence of “a whole different form of establishment” when it comes to comedy. He asserted his belief that to be offensive is the “job of comedy” and that comedy “cannot be drained of that potential.”
“Every joke has a victim,” Atkinson said. “That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous.”
When asked whether he believed comedy should only “kick up” at those in authority as opposed to targeting those without power, Atkinson replied, “I think you’ve got to be very, very careful about saying what you’re allowed to make jokes about. You’ve always got to kick up? Really? What if there’s someone extremely smug, arrogant, aggressive, self-satisfied, who happens to be below in society?”
“They’re not all in houses of parliament or in monarchies,” he continued. “There are lots of extremely smug and self-satisfied people in what would be deemed lower down in society, who also deserve to be pulled up.”
The comedian then doubled down. “In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything,” he insisted. “Not all jokes are for everyone.”