The Roast of Somizi which aired on Comedy Central last week has managed to stir up quite the controversy online. Gareth Cliff was the roast master of the event and the panel included Fikile Mbalula, Nomzamo Mbatha, Ntsiki Mazwai, DJ Fresh, Skhumba and others.
Since airing, it has received a countless number of opposing reactions from Twitter users and even celebrities like Bonnie Mbuli, Simphiwe Dana and Thandiswa Mazwai shared their views about the show. Some tweeps felt that the jokes targeted at Mazwai were way too brutal, while others made it clear that the HIV/AIDS ‘jokes’ were not the least bit funny. Here are some of the times the Somizi roast took it too far.
- The backwards jokes
We have come a long way when it comes to HIV/AIDS stigma and homophobia. Finally, we are at the point where people understand that HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence. In just one hour, the show pretty much revived negative stereotypes about these issues.
In his autobiography, Dominoes: Unbreakable Spirit, Somizi made a revelation about suffering from a “terminal” illness which he would not name, but this didn’t stop DJ Fresh and Skhumba from making him the butt of HIV ‘jokes’.
One of Fresh’s ‘jokes’ included informing the audience that the registry for Somizi’s wedding would be at Dischem. The famous DJ kept alternating between the subject of homosexuality and HIV/AIDS when he roasted Somizi, reminding us all too well of the backward, negative notions that people have had of gay men and HIV in our society.
- Some of the jokes were actually pretty dry
If your jokes are going to rest on someone being allegedly ill, then, let’s be honest, you’re probably not that funny. During the roast, Skhumba managed to pulled this joke out his hat:
“You know Nkosi Johnson’s AIDS. Look at your AIDS… Uyinja!”
While the ‘joke’ is supposed to be funny because it plays on the idea that Somizi looks ‘good’ while supposedly being infected with HIV, all we’re thinking is“what are people with HIV/AIDS supposed to look like exactly?” Cliff tested a similar joke on Skhumba about being overweight and diabetic. Funny? Not so much.
- The Roasters relied a little too much on body shaming for laughs
Does Mazwai having breasts that supposedly hang or stretch marks that apparently cover her body really call for a laugh? Skhumba made a ‘joke’ about this while comparing Mazwai to Mbatha, whom he applauded for her beauty. If it’s fun to pit women against each other, especially if it’s based on looks, than we’d rather be bored, watching paint dry.
- The emasculation jokes
Many of the roasts depended on demeaning men by feminising them. Maps Maponyane, Mbatha’s boyfriend, was the subject to jokes that poked fun at him for not being able to break his girlfriend’s virginity and was labelled a “Mrs.” by DJ Fresh. Even Mbatha felt it would be funny to call Cliff “Helen Zille with a smaller penis”. If the best way to insult a man is to talk about his genitals and call him a woman then well, we’re simply not impressed.