I will begin this one which is meant to be about Project Fame by talking about the Nigerian iteration of The Voice. You cannot talk about talent competitions in Nigeria that involve down on their luck singers looking for a come up without mentioning The Voice because that show changed everything. The talent on it was exceptional, and it was produced so well that I wept with pride and patriotism. Before it, I didn't believe that we could produce reality television that was truly worth watching.
When I heard that Project Fame West Africa was returning, I was excited. I thought that they would be infected with the same National Pride that I felt and deliver a product that was miles better than the mediocrity they perpetually stuff down our airwaves, but I was wrong. They've stuck to their formula with the tenacity of the truly addled, and there is no one in all the world that is more confused than I am.
I went to a live taping of one of their shows over the weekend. It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I need more than an "it wasn't bad" evaluation to be worth watching, especially if you're going to take three hours of my Saturday. What did they do wrong? Don't worry. This is why I'm here.
They had a comedian to hype the crowd before the contestants came on, but he really wasn't much of a comedian. If in 15 minutes, you tell three jokes that are capable of making me laugh out loud, then try as I might, I cannot see what the point is. I wouldn't have found him particularly offensive if he hadn't ended his set with what I can only call an abortion of a joke. Rape is not funny. Telling a joke that implies that it can actually be enjoyable for all parties involved is rude to the point of idiocy. The joke went something like this. A woman was kidnapped and taken to the great outdoors by her abductors. Her tied up husband then had to listen to her pleas for help which became tinged with notes of pleasure. At the end of it, she said, "Thank you kidnapper." Very good. You win all the laughs.
The show has two presenters, Bolanle Olukanni and Joseph Benjamin. With regards to Bolanle, I have no complaints, but things are not so easy with Joseph. He chews his words with so much enthusiasm that I'm sure they contribute to his recommended daily intake. I was so convinced by the end of it that I have started doing the same. My spaghetti limbs could do with some padding.
One thing that sets the show apart from most is the band. You see, with most shows like this, the singers are the only ones in the competition. In Project Fame, the band is competing too. What else am I supposed to think when the band is frequently so loud that the singing is lost?
It was all fairly dull until Dapo took the stage to deliver a cover of Michael Jackson's Liberian Girl. I cackled with glee because epic fails are usually even better than flashes of brilliance. I can't really tell you how I knew it would be bad. Let's just say that the universe told me. It's the same way it tells you when to look just before the class clown falls off their chair. He came out in this poorly bedazzled jacket that most of us would save for Halloween, and at least four dancers who got their wigs/extensions from either Donald Trump or a mangy horse. Their choreography was the sort of thing I'd expect to see in a musical about the underwater princesses (cafe au lait ladies aka mammy water sisters) of an underwater kingdom. From where I was sitting, Dapo was a victim of sabotage. I almost pinched myself for finding it hilarious, but I thought the better of it. Cheap laughs are scarce. I'll take what I can get.
Life is finite. When the hours disappear they're gone forever, and no amount of prayer or magic will ever get them back. Fun should be treasured wherever it is found because it is incredibly brief and almost intolerably rare. Project Fame will have to decide how it's going to achieve this. It could either decide to be so consistently bad that it is hilarious, or so good that naysayers like me have got nothing bad to say about it. As it stands the juice of Project Fame isn't worth the electricity your television will eat while you watch it.