Jesler Mesidor’s new cd is humor for “Granmoun”
Friday, July 30, 2010

By Max Zamor

If you expect rib ripping laughs while listening to Jesler Mesidor’s latest cd aptly titled “Wounouwounou”, you’re in for a disappointment. You will not, however, be left hungry for deep meaningful humor. The young poet and storyteller, often compared to Maurice Sixto, the legendary Haitian raconteur, this time, delivered a cd fit for “granmoun” listening.
First, he carried the reader back home while basking in intricate jazz rentidions of Haitian folk music. Reginald Policard and Mushi Widmeier floated their sweet piano sounds with a music played with subtlety and which never seemed to overpower Jesler’s delivery. The marriage of this appropriate music with the earthy, sometimes melodious voice of Jesler, made for a delightful listening experience.
Painting the cd with a broad brush, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the maturity of the stories with stylishly mixed and contrasting characters. Not to say that Jesler’s previous work was infantile: After all, Jesler is an educator with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. “Wounouwounou” was his second cd, and many times, he has proven his theatrical skill to the Haitian cultural communities with his writings and his performances. It’s true the stories in “Wounouwounou” lack that rib roaring quality we’ve come to expect from this talented poet, but that is not the point of the cd. Besides, we all benefited by getting to taste Jesler’s three dimensional talents in writing, character building and sophisticated humor. While listening to a story, wait a few minutes, perhaps even longer, then allow your burst of laughter to explode when the meaning lights up and the punch line finally sinks in.
One such story was the opening salvo in “Gongolo” which was a perfect illustration of the dim importance that defined the punch line. Jesler’s stories snaked through complex, yet recognizable characters to present a tableau of Haitian life. After all, when you think about it, Haitians are a complex people. Yet, Gongolo’s logic was one to make you think twice. There again, Jesler’s delivery conjured up the image of a real person. Perhaps all of us have known someone like Gongolo. If I have met one, he was certainly a composite of many Haitian characters I’ve encountered throughout my life. So it would be easy for Jesler to build such a character and still be accurate in his description, his mannerisms and even his speech. However, don’t feel so sorry for Gongolo as there was an undeclared pity for his innocence. Go ahead, say it: How can someone be so dumb? Yet, he was a character who delighted in his supposed intelligence. It was better to leave him alone and remember that he was only a character in Jesler’s imagination. A desperate case? May be. But Jesler was skillful in making us feel sorry for him, laugh about it and still not feel guilty.
The mark of the stories’ maturity in this cd was in the treatment gave to the various social subjects usually considered taboo in Haitian culture. Sex and bodily functions were game when handled with humor; and Jesler knew that. Haitians had always mixed humor with these subjects and got away with it. It didn’t matter that they would eventually earn shunning from their peers.
Jesler did not have to be a hard-hitter in his humor to capture his audience’s attention. Just listen to the story called “Machandiz” and you get an idea about Jesler’s kids’ gloves approach. That reflects how much Jesler showed toward his audience. I was not offended nor did I groan in disgust by the instructions given to Moca Cafe’s patrons in his interlude piece “Come, Venir, Vini.” It’s not a story for children or, much less, the more conservative listeners. I can almost see the smirk on Jesler’s lips knowing that few will understand, but those who do, will have a belly laugh.
True comedians know that there is always some humor in tragedy, and nothing is funnier than the truth. Jesler’s writings take advantage of both of these assets to bring a plate full of stories adorned with his imagined clan of characters. At the same time, we identify with these characters and allow ourselves to be transported deep into the bowels of Haiti’s provinces, away from the “Zuzus”. We can almost taste the native foods and smell the morning dew mixed with cow’s flatulence at dawn. Jesler’s precision in his delivery takes us there.
Take that trip. Listen to the whole cd and you will want to meet Dr. St Preux and Hippototam. Listen to the cd and you will want to go to Gongon or make the trek to Dewoumba. Nothing is more liberating than when you relish in your raw culture. Only make sure you’re not a faint of heart.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply