There is ample evidence to show that human cardiovascular health receives a huge boost from any activity that lifts the mood, such as humour and laughter derived from comedy and pranks. As an expert recently explained, “Laughter eliminates many of the negative symptoms associated with stress. When you laugh, your body releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones make you feel good and block out those negative emotions. No wonder you feel better after laughing!”
In Nigeria, many youths have found employment platforms for themselves by turning YouTube into a goldmine with their comedy skits and pranks. While these youngsters should be commended for their creativity and ingenuity, it is pertinent to also note that there are grave dangers in what some of them have come to embrace as a passion. Thus, besides the money-spinning advertisement and endorsement opportunities that these skits provide, there have also been concerns about the potential hazards that some of the pranks pose to the producers and their laughingstocks.
Observations have shown that there are some humorous situations that trigger laughter but also end up putting the lives of people in jeopardy. This is particularly true of comic shows or pranks that trigger fear or panic. In fact, they do exactly the opposite of what laughter and humour do to the heart, and this is where the biggest concern is. Many victims of scary pranks have had cardiovascular scares while some have run into physical danger. According to www.health.clevelandclinic.org, “Intense emotion can actually trigger a heart attack in susceptible individuals (especially those suffering from other heart conditions). But even people without an underlying heart problem can literally be scared (almost) to death.”
When discussing how scary pranks (which actually entertain people) can cause health problems, one Nigerian prankster comes to mind. Ubani Zion Chibuike, popularly known as Zfancy is one of the most humorous skit makers in Nigeria. In one of his prank skits titled “African Marriage Prank Gone Wrong”, the mother of his accomplice actually fainted and had to be resuscitated by a medical doctor after her son introduced Zfancy as his fiancée. The poor woman could not come to terms with the thinking that her son was a homosexual.
As funny as that skit might have seemed, it could have led to more serious consequences for the woman. What if she was hypertensive or battling any other cardiovascular disease? The probability of her suffering a heart attack would have been very high.
In another YouTube skit titled “Iboji”, which was shot in the historical city of Abeokuta, it took luck for some of Zfancy’s victims not to physically injure themselves due to the scary nature of that very prank. Acting as a ghost who was tired of wandering around the physical world and desirous of a return to the grave (iboji in Yoruba language), Zfancy made all his victims take to their heels in panic when it dawned on them that they were talking to a “real ghost”. In fact, one of the scared women nearly ran across the highway and could have been knocked down by a moving vehicle.
It must also be said here that apart from cardiovascular issues, some of these pranks can trigger the kind of panic that may cause physical harm. Imagine what could have happened if the said woman had crossed the highway in a bid to escape from a ‘ghost’.
Another notorious prankster is Abdullahi Maruff Adia (I am trinity guy) famed for removing wigs and attachments from women’s heads. In fact, he is the most physically assaulted pranksters in Nigeria and this does not augur well for his wellbeing. On many occasions, he has received serious beating from both men and women. While his pranks are considered humorous, they are often taken to the extreme. In one of them, he presented himself to an old man as an armed robber who was desirous of a change of attitude and while the old man sympathised with him, he attempted to rob him. Out of panic, the old man ran for his life, leaving his slippers behind. Considering that people of the old man’s age bracket are more susceptible to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders, playing that prank on him was an expensive joke that could have backfired.
I believe that skit platforms, such as YouTube, need to strengthen their Community Guidelines and ensure that they cover issues bordering on health and wellbeing. This can be done better by engaging all content creators from time to time. The rules and regulations should be unequivocally spelt out in a way that guarantees clarity for both existing and potential content creators, especially skit makers.