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Bello and Blakka: A Hilarious Reunion

Comedic Duo Bello and Blakka's Hilarious Reunion

The comedic duo Bello and Blakka (Winston Bell and Owen Ellis) could easily be construed as the current patriarchs of Jamaican stand-up comedy. Their work over the decades has easily separated it self from much of what else exists on the local landscape. On Monday night, as the country was washing down the last of the bun and cheese of Easter and prepping for the arrival of President Barrack Obama, these two veterans of comedy staged their reunion. 

It would be the second time they had performed together in nearly a decade and despite the passage of time their comedic strength has not waned and the night was one of great hilarity. Unfortunately, the staging of The Bello and Blakka Reunion, left much to be desired. The absence of a backdrop, the costuming and lighting design had significant room for improvement and their artistry deserved better.

Bello and Blakka in their opening sketchMuch of the performance was grounded in old material, or rather what we may call the Bello and Blakka Standards. That they still had the audience roaring with laughter was a clear sign of the strength of their wit.

“Me and Bello grow up inn di ghetto and di ghetto tough we up,” Owen Blakka Ellis declared, speaking to a relationship that started with both of them in high school, grew while they were at the Edna Manley college and in 1985 blossomed into Jamaica’s most respected comedic duos. 

The show opened with a dramatic rendition, narrated by Bello, of the beginning of the world. The rest of the first act saw the two men sharing the stage, engaging in easy banter and delivering some a bit of new material dealing with aging, before delving into their old sketches and songs, a few of them slightly refreshed to refer to current events. During the second act, the two would deliver individual performances, couched in the ‘old drunk’ routine, before coming together once more to close the show. Bello and Blakka and their two old drunks routine

The night’s performance included fan favourites such as ‘Bringing in the Weed’, ‘Ganja Tree’ and ‘Mi Owna Visa. They laughed at themselves and at the society. Tackling a range of topics, Bello and Blakka spoke about men and aging, Jamaican men and romance, changes in the society, sexuality, homophobia, legalization of marijuana, the arrival of President Obama and poked great fun at Andrew Holness.

Bello and Blakka and the art of wooingAlthough the two continue to work well as a duo, their dynamic has clearly changed. Over the years while Blakka has continued as a stand up comedian, Bello has focused on acting. The result is that Blakka exuded the ease and gregariousness of the stand-up, with Bello acting more as his foil. Bello’s strength as a masterful comedic and character actor also came through, allowing the two of them to harness the individual strengths they have gathered over the years.

As they wrapped up their set, the two of them spoke lovingly about their wives as well as their respect and love for each other. Yet the end of the night did not mark the conclusion of the journey they began as boys, but rather a new beginning of sorts as they explore a full reunion tour with performances in Jamaica and elsewhere. 

The Bello and Blakka Reunion Show took place at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Monday, April 6, 2015. Showtime was 7 pm.