As previously mentioned here,
BBC Studios and E4 (part of Channel 4) have ripped-off Benjamin Bankole Bello’s well-established comedy character President Obonjo for their reprehensible non-broadcast comedy chat show pilot which looks remarkably like a wildly offensive piece of racism which could have come straight out of the 1930s or 1950s.
‘President Obonjo’, though, is not a former African strongman for nothing, even if ousted from his ‘Lafta Republic’.
In the last couple of days, a fight-back has been organised and, next Sunday, a (probably 25-minute) President Obonjo show will be recorded for unleashing on the internet. As both BBC Studios and E4 have said in writing that they believe there is room for two former African dictators in the comedy firmament (one original; one their own rip-off) no doubt they will both be rushing to take on President Obonjo. After all, surely no-one could believe there is any two-faced bullshitting going on by either.
So I talked to comedy critic/judge (Scotsman newspaper, Perrier Awards, Malcolm Hardee Awards) and TV producer (Eurotrash and sundry sport and sex documentaries) Kate Copstick and ‘President Obonjo’ about their plans for next Sunday’s recording in Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in Shepherd’s Bush, London.
JOHN: So what is it?
COPSTICK: It’s a President Obonjo chat show with interview guests. It’s not a TV pilot. It’s hopefully a mind-boggling world wide viral video.
JOHN: And the basic idea is…?
COPSTICK: The conceit is that the President is not a stupid man and he realises, as I think many of us have, that Britain is falling apart, from the Mother of Parliaments downwards. Never has the time been better for a coup – a power-grab – and President Obonjo has got a bit of previous in this area.
OBONJO: Now is my time.
JOHN: Where is the Lafta Republic?
OBONJO: Close to Wakanda.
JOHN: How long were you a dictator there?
OBONJO: Well over ten years.
JOHN: Why did you get thrown out?
OBONJO: I didn’t get thrown out!… Just over ten years ago. I came on a state visit to Britain to meet your Queen and discovered comedy. My people in Africa found out I was no longer on a state visit, there was a coup détat and I have been here ever since – President Obonjo has been performing comedy for ten years.
JOHN: Who took over in control of the Lafta Republic?
JOHN: So it is much like Britain.
OBONJO: Precisely. There is a gap in the leadership in Britain and I am the man to fill it.
JOHN: Parliamentary democracy clearly is not working. We need a strongman.
OBONJO: Change we can believe in. Now is my time.
COPSTICK: Also, this is the 21st century and we could be doing with a black man in charge.
JOHN: Are we allowed to say President Obama was not really black?
OBONJO: He was brown.
JOHN: And only half-Kenyan – his dad. Whereas President Obonjo is all Lafta.
OBONJO: David Lammy, when he became a British MP, was so inspirational in his speech about how he never thought he was going to be in Parliament and everyone kept rooting for him to be the first black Prime Minister… That was good, but it has not happened.
COPSTICK: Prime Minister, Shrime Minister. We wanna cut through all that because democracy self-evidently is not working. Boris Johnson has had a very good stab at being a dictator…
OBONJO:… and it has not worked.
JOHN: And, clearly, one-man rule CAN work in Britain because our absolute monarchs succeeded – Henry V took over France. Henry VIII did us proud and took us out of a European religious union. Elizabeth I, though not altogether a man, created an English Empire. It proves that absolute power in the hands of one person works in Britain. Let’s not mention the Germans.
COPSTICK: It absolutely works and President Obonjo has an absolute groundswell of support from the live comedy industry.
JOHN: You can create the Lafta Republic right here in Britain.
OBONJO: Change we can believe in. Yes we can.
COPSTICK: This show which we are recording next Sunday is a chat show, but it is also a show of force with the guests representing large special interest groups within the UK. It will be a tour-de-force.
OBONJO: It will be a coup-de-force.