Comedy: a revival of hopes, relief from woes, wine for the soul. When sadness ravages the mind, a thrilling comedy could ignite joy, bubble in the belly, renew hopes, and make life worth living again. It sometimes wets the cheeks with tears: not salty tears that emit at the happenstance of sorrow, but reflex tears that discharge with the “dimorphous expression” of irresistible laughter. “With our hectic lives, a dose of comedy is a must.” asserted Anita Reddy, the notable Indian actress.
Away from its function as solace, comedy pumps money into pocket. It bestows fame on jokesters. Societal value, influence, special treatments, and opportunities are among the many privileges comedians enjoy. Skits, stand-up comedies, and street interviews are among many ways comedians pop entertainment on our screens. Lately, the most prevalent form of these comedies is the Prank Comedy where pranksters befool unsuspecting victims with untold pranks, while putting their funny reactions into recording for the enjoyment of viewers.
Prank comedy can be traced to the group of the entertaining Jerky Boys. The American duo of Johnny Brennan and Kamal Ahmed took the American entertainment industry by storm in the Nineties, and successfully etched their names in the historical book of prank comedy. The two friends would call unsuspecting victims on the phone, in healthy calls that would later be recorded into audio records for sale—audio records later formed albums. Interestingly, many Americans longed to be called by the Jerky Boys, as it would be a golden opportunity to feature in their audio records that traveled far and near across lovers of entertainment. Their record label, Atlantic Records (a subsidiary of Select Records), would later confirm that the Jerky Boys sold 8,000,000 albums and made records across charts like Billboard, with a certified (double) Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Only a healthy prank could have achieved this feat.
Many of today’s pranksters only draw inspiration from the Jerky Boys and other foremost pranksters, their unhealthy pranks are contrary to the legacy of the Jerky Boys’. While Jerky Boys consider the mental health of their prank victims and would even seek their privacy before they get their voices released for public listening, many of today’s pranksters have toiled the mental health of their prank victims with unhealthy pranks, false accusations, harassment with soldiers, attacks with harmful objects, and bullying. Many of their victims even get to see themselves over the internet without their consent—a breach of privacy.
Consideration is rarely given to elderly men or pregnant women, many of whom are frail. In a clime where many people work around with smiling faces but severe health conditions, some pranksters refuse to be sensitive about this, so they go about making their victims aghast with pranks that result in intrigue and commotion. Hypertensive, asthmatic, mentally unstable, and other fragile victims—who wouldn’t inscribe their ailments on themselves—could easily give up at the attack of too much tension.
Today, many pranksters wouldn’t put some respite on their tough pranks; they go as far as making pranks inside fueling stations, which could easily result in an inferno. In the best interest, health care centres, schools, gatherings where a cluster of old, weak men sit and gist should be excluded from unhealthy pranks. Nigerian pranksters like MC Fredom, Trinity Guy and others, who once met their waterloo with insensitive pranks after angry mob pounded on them, needed only a little sermon before they could fix the loose strings in their unhealthy pranks.
The consideration of unhealthy pranks was a major reason platforms like YouTube, in 2019, placed a ban on harmful prank jokes and even put an option to report pranks that endanger people’s lives and sanity. Legally, pranksters should be in the know, that they could be sued under “will-less murder”, should they get their victims hurt or dead from their unhealthy pranks.
Nigerian pranksters should buck the trend of unhealthy pranks. Health and mental wise, it behoves pranksters to consider the fact that it is not everyone walking on the roads who is fit for their costly pranks. Like the Jerky Boys and other legendary pranksters, they should consider the well-being of their victims and not induce unnecessary fears, psychological and mental torture on them. Non-consensual pranks, harmful words, and bullying might cost innocent victims their health, sanity, and even relationships, which, once lost, may never be regained.
Hashim Yussuf Amao