We’ll have some of that!
Any tourist stumbling across the Nook and Cranny Bar is in for a shock. It’s a place where sex and infidelity, slapstick humour and cutting satire are served up in breadfruit-sized portions.
This is one rum shop in Barbados where the laughs are guaranteed, the regulars are vintage Bajans and the mighty are cut down to size.
The theatre comedy Laff-It-Off has been tickling the Bajan funny bone since 1985 and there’s no reason why visitors can’t get in on the act.
Two whistling frogs and an African snail…
While the latest belly laughs and bawdy gags are worthy of the West End or Broadway, there’s still room for moments of sombre social commentary.
The drought across the island and the government’s inept response might be a revelation to holidaymakers enjoying lush gardens and full swimming pools. But away from the south and west coasts, in the island’s quieter parishes, fresh running water is a rare thing.
The water butt in Laff-It-Off contains only two whistling frogs and an African snail. Cue a song from characters itching and scratching in frustration.
“St Joseph I come from, St Lucy I come from. Everywhere I go, People ask me, Why I smellin’ so?”
Perfect timing by the six
The lyrics are always clever and the singing top-notch. And the perfectly timed punchlines from the hugely talented cast of only six always has the predominantly Bajan audience in stitches.
Ever wondered why government departments move so slowly? Why clearing stuff through customs can be like pulling teeth? Bajans know why.
Family to the Minister
Some government workers are qualified with BAs, BScs and MBAs. Others – the hungover one sleeping in the corner of the office who can’t be sacked – has FTTM on her file. Family To The Minister.
Humour may not rid Barbados of the nepotism blighting its bureaucracy, but maybe it helps them cope.
Declining standards in education and the perceived link to the rise in gun crime are real concerns.
One song cuts to the quick:
“Education going down the drain. Some can’t count or even spell their name…”
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is heavily criticised for failing to speak out. In Laff-It-Off, he’s the pope who has taken a vow of silence.
The Who’s rock number Won’t Get Fooled Again may well be a more subtle nod to a government past its best.
Video footage with pre-recorded sketches fill the time between set changes and are every bit as funny and provocative as the live show. From the national anthem to the finale, the experience is truly Barbadian.
The gags come thick and fast, the humour universal, although a friendly Bajan may need to explain some references.
Bridgetown, New York, London…
There’s also no doubt about the quality of the performances – after all, the show tours to New York and London.
If you want to see the Bajans let their locks down, Laff-It-Off is the place. The audience has a rip-roaring time, right up until the final number. However, it’s a mystery why half of them were heading for the exit while the rest of us applauded. Not even the friendly Bajan could explain that.
Laff-It-Off, Cat @$%# AND PEPPAH, is every Saturday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St Michael, until April 16th. Tickets $40Bds from ticketpal.com.