Comedian says he can make a joke out of everything.
An award-winning comedian, Basketmouth (Bright Okpocha) who last weekend was lambasted by fans for a rape joke he posted on his Facebook page, Friday, defended his joke on a U.K. talk show Live@Battersea on Vox Africa channel.
Basketmouth, who, Sunday, apologised to those who “misunderstood” the joke, once again apologised but this time, to those who were offended.
“Definitely I am sorry about what happened. The people that it offended…I won’t say the people that misunderstood but the people that it offended,” he said to the talkshow host, Adesope Olajide.
The comedian, however, lamented that the controversy had now limited the types of joke he can tell.
“Sadly, every joke hits people the wrong way. If I crack jokes about food, there are people in third world countries saying, ‘Why is he cracking jokes about food? Have I chop na?’ They will just go on twitter and say ‘This guy should stop cracking jokes about food, I haven’t eaten’.”
He insisted that as a comedian one had the power to crack jokes without limits.
“No. If you’re a comedian, you have the power to crack jokes because the truth is, humour has no limits. You can crack jokes about death, living, anything you want to crack jokes about. Humour has its own education that sends a message. Everything is funny. Everything in life is funny, there is humour in everything that we do,” he said.
He explained that the only limits he placed on himself were usually with respect to the type of audience that he was delivering his jokes to.
“For me, the only thing that limits me is if I go for a church event I won’t crack any joke that has any X in it. Then if I go for an event where everyone is drinking and drunk with their wives, I’m not going to be cracking jokes about Noah and Solomon, I have to crack a joke that suits them. I crack my jokes according to the audience. So that’s my limit. I limit myself according to the audience, but when it comes to jokes there shouldn’t be any limit. But because of the culture and everything, you have to respect the fact that people might find it offensive and just hold back.”
However, Basketmouth’s latest comments. which were transcribed on the lifestyle blog, Bella Naija, is not being met favourably by some fans.
“He doesn’t get it,” a commenter, Fatimah, said.
Another commenter, Chigbo, countered, “Wrong!!!!!!! You cannot crack jokes about everything. Everything is NOT funny! You have a brain, a conscience and a heart.”
But not all the commenters were against the comedian. A commenter, Mide, wrote, “Some topics are inconvenient, we know. Yet we need to be reminded, from time to time, and by comedians and in a lighthearted manner to make us uncomfortable. Rape is one of those topics. Censorship by a mob of moralists and who do not value the redeeming qualities of the arts should never be allowed.”
Unfortunately, Basketmouth’s joke comes at a time when the issue of rape and the way it is being handled by a mostly patriarchal society is receiving widespread criticism around the world.
The gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus, on 16 December 2012, sparked large protests across the capital Delhi. and instigated a worldwide conversation about rape culture and the culpability of law enforcement officials in the low incidence of arrests and prosecution of rapists.
Some Nigerian activists are still smarting from the lack of headway made in the Abia State University, ABSU, rape case in 2011.
According to the then Minister of Youth Development, Bolaji Abdullahi, the rape victim was found but her family denied that she was the actual victim in a bid to protect her integrity.
For anti-rape activists that a victim has to live with the fact that her attacker may never be punished while she is blamed is a bitter pill to swallow and an issue that must be addressed by government, law enforcement agencies, the justice system and the society at large.
Basketmouth’s joke, which seems to imply that a woman who fails to have sex after the ninth date could be raped, drives home the point of misplaced culpability and becomes even more enraging against the background of the lack of adequate prosecution for rapists and rehabilitation for rape victims.
As the former minister of education, Oby Ezekwesili, said on her Twitter page, rather than defending the indefensible, Basketmouth “should use this sad episode as an occasion for good by becoming (a) most visible Anti-Rape Activist….”