Dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and blue trousers, veteran calypsonian Short Pants (Llewellyn Mac Intosh) looks like he just stepped out of a classroom at Trinity College, Maraval, where he was once the principal. But he is much more than that. Recently he has been winning kudos for his skills as a master of ceremonies and his excellent showmanship overall. Last Sunday, Short Pants was in ripping form at the re-enactment of the 1962 Independence Calypso Contest at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa) in Port-of-Spain. It was a clever mix of storytelling with hot punch lines gleaned from current headlines about sacked Justice Minister Herbert Volney and the Section 34 fiasco.
Short Pants told the Sunday Guardian his love for comedy and the stage goes back several years. “Comedy is serious business. I remember when I was at QRC and we were doing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, we met a major protagonist The Fool. The teacher was at pains to explain that The Fool is one of the more sensible characters. “Miss would say yes there are interludes where he says funny things. But he was about serious business. The Fool said, ‘I wear not motley in my brain.’ It means although he is clothed in jester garb, his mind is not foolish. I have no doubt the clown needs to take his work seriously.”
Short Pants says comedians are not just jesters. He sees them as sociologists analysing the complex contours of T&T society and personalities. He explained: “I have seen Bill Trotman in his prime. I’ve seen Sprangalang. I know he’s an intelligent man although he talks nonsense sometimes. I have worked for many years with Paul Keens Douglas at Talk Tent. I have seen his audience falling out of their chairs. But when you have a tête-à-tête, you realise he is much more. He is a sociologist in terms of his analysis of the Caribbean person. He is able to give convincing performances because he understands them.”
He added: “I have been a calypsonian for 30 odd years. I saw Black Stalin emcee at Kitchener’s tent. I have done work in the theatre. A touch of drama helps in delivery.” “It’s challenging. Be alert. It’s extremely hard work. Nevertheless rewarding when the audience responds positively to jokes and vignettes.” Short Pants has a fond memory of Singing Sandra complimenting him for the suave manner in which he introduced her on stage.
Here is his Volney joke: “Perhaps because of the kind of week I had, I slept soundly the night before. I dreamt I died and went to heaven. I came upon a wall of clocks. I asked St Peter what that meant. Each clock is carrying a different time. What does it mean?
Each person has a clock and they are called lie clocks. “I saw a clock saying 12.00. The angel said the hands never moved. Mother Teresa never told a lie. Another 12.05 pm. The angel said it was archbishop Pantin. One lie. Another 12.10 pm. The angel said Abraham Lincoln told two lies.
Does Herbert Volney have a clock? Exasperated angel said, “I told you everybody has a clock.” Then clearly let me see Volney’s clock. Angel: “It’s is not in the wall like the others. You would need to go into Jesus’ study. (Audience euphoric) Why? Angel: “Because Jesus is using it as a ceiling fan.”
About Short Pants
He attended Boissiere RC School and later studied and taught Literature. His daughter is calypsonian Heather Mac Intosh and sons are Andrew and Richard, Junior Calypso Monarch (1994). Among his gems are The Law Is An Ass, The Infidel, Wat Republic Mean and A Song For Richard, Leh We Show and Change The Name. He rears rare tropical fish. He confessed, “I don’t play my guitar well. It should be a fiddle.”
Comedy tips from Short Pants:
• Be prepared.
• Analyse your audience before hand.
• Observe the audience
• Work in sync with the artistes; ask them to help with introduction
• Don’t drink or engage in ole talk.
• Settle the audience for each performer; it allows show to flow smoothly
• Be au courant with local and international news