Ity & Fancy Cat, Jamaican Comedy’s Awesome Two-Some

There is a video clip making the rounds on the World Wide Web called ‘Driving Mr. Coke’.  It’s from a skit from their enormously popular sketch comedy program on Television Jamaica (TVJ) known as the ‘Ity & Fancy Cat show’. The skit caricatures the now famous arrest of a Jamaican ‘don’ wanted for extradition to the US who was apprehended in the company of a pastor. The video clip has totally gone viral. Many persons all over the world, who have not had the pleasure of seeing them live, are currently asking the question “Who or what is ‘Ity & Fancy Cat?” The popularity of ‘Driving Mr. Coke’ has recently been eclipsed by another skit called ‘The Country Helper’ starring Ity and Kathy Grant, also from the ‘Ity & Fancy Cat show’.

So who’s Ity & Fancy Cat?

Ian “Ity” Ellis and Alton “Fancy Cat” Hardware are two talented, confident yet un-assuming men who have known each other since childhood days in Trench Town, long before they became a household name in Jamaica. As an established professional performing arts unit, they’ve been together longer than all the other famous Jamaican comedy duos before them, and they have been consistent purveyors of side-splitting laughter throughout the Caribbean as well as the Diaspora in North American and Europe for nearly 20 years.

They are outrageously hilarious and courageously irreverent, and under the guidance and mentorship of veteran writer, educator and comedian Owen Blakka Ellis they have grown into unquestionably the hottest comedy act currently operating out of the Caribbean. The duo is an absolutely ‘must have’ item on any stand comedy show of repute anywhere in Jamaica and the Caribbean and they have a left floods admiration and storms of laughter in their wake in performances in many major cities all over the world.

They do much more than stir humour and evoke laughter however, as the entertainment journey of this electrifying duo also makes for an encouraging and inspirational narrative on many other fronts.

They grew up in a tough inner city neighborhood. They have witnessed and experienced trauma and tragedy. Yet, they’ve dedicated their lives to spreading laughter and levity. Ellis and Hardware grew up around guns, crime, drugs and other negative options, yet they’ve kept firm focus on living positive, fun-filled and inspiring lives.  They’ve never been in trouble with the law, never been in a fight, and never had to ‘flash a knife or fire a gun’. Also, neither of them drinks any form of alcoholic beverage or smokes anything at all!

They both love soccer and in their early teens they played together on the Minor League team for Boys Town. They harbored hopes of going on to play for Jamaica of course, but those hopes never materialized. However, they got to combine their facility with humour and their affinity for football with the enviable distinction of being the first comedians in Jamaica to be employed as ‘commentators’ on Jamaican television during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

As a comedy act they’ve also achieved several other notable firsts like:

– ‘STAR ARTIST OF THE MONTH’  a coveted entertainment title that comes with a month long feature in the popular evening tabloid the Jamaican STAR  was seemingly reserved solely for big name singers, DJs and musicians until the duo were so named.

– They represented Jamaica on a special Caribbean edition of the international television series ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?

– Their ground-breaking television project just completed its third season, which by itself is a first for local comedy. The show also remains the most popular local program on Jamaican television with season 2 reportedly increasing viewership for the host station by 300%

– This year they broke new barriers and opened additional doors for artistes in their genre when they attained the historic honor of being the first comedy act ever, to be billed on Jamaica’s renown international music event ‘Reggae Sumfest’

Interestingly, early in their careers, they tried their hands at music as DJs and even got close to some big people in the business – they worked on a project funded by entertainment mogul Chris Blackwell – but not as entertainers. At Blackwell’s Strawberry Hill resort, the duo at one time worked, one as a builder the other as a payroll officer.

As you watch the outrageously hilarious duo dish out dollops of laughter on all types of varying occasions – from high profile private corporate events to massive street festivals – it is easy to find inspiration and joy in reminding yourself that it all began in a place that most people only associate with poverty and violence. To see them in action and to observe adoring fans jostle for autographs and photo opportunities after rip-roaring comedic moments is to experience confirmation of the idea that Ity & Fancy Cat is not just a comedy act. They’re also another tangible manifestation of the fact that much good can come from the ghetto to the rest of Jamaica, and much greatness from Jamaica to the world.

After thrilling audiences in Toronto with their hilarious routines in November, Ity & Fancy Cat returns to Canada for 2 shows in January 2011. They perform on New Year’s Day Saturday January 1 at Maple Banquet Hall 1325 Eglinton Avenue East in Mississauga, and on Sunday January 2 at the Lincoln Alexander Centre 150 King Street in Hamilton. Gates will open at 6pm and for a 7pm show time at both venues. The duo will be accompanied by ‘Rozah Roze’ and Kathy Grant (aka ‘Miss Jennifer the Country Helper’) two of the most loved regulars from the TV show. Completing what promises to be two evenings of non-stop laughter will be top Canadian comic Jay Martin and the crazy duo known as Naggo Morris & Kafinal. The shows will be hosted by Danae Peart from CHRY 105.5fm.