Terry Waagwan: An Irish Fugitive in Jamaica

A few months ago, one of my British friends shared the video below with me. I thought it was hilarious!

This video will probably be most entertaining to Jamaicans, and those who have a good understanding of West Indian culture. You might also find it interesting if you’re British or Irish, and know who Terry Wogan is.

The friend who shared this with me explained that Terry Wogan was a famous DJ in Ireland. The skit parodies Wogan by transplanting him in Jamaica, and changing his name to Waagwan.

His new name literally translates to what’s going on in Jamaican Patois. But a more accurate translation would be what’s up, or what’s happening? I hope you guys find this at least half as entertaining as I did.

If the video doesn’t load automaticcally, you can watch it here.

While this is a relatively accurate depiction of Jamaica and Jamaicans, the actors are not local Jamaicans. I can tell by their grammar and syntax that they are either second-generation Jamaicans living in the UK, or they have been away from the country for decades. I also suspect a few are from other Caribbean countries.

This is also more representative of 80s and 90s Jamaica, as opposed to the current 2000s. Still entertaining, though!

If there are words or sections you did not understand, feel free to leave your questions in the comments. If you’ve been keeping up with my Jamaican posts, you might recognise words like mantel, sketel, pickney, whine, and zeen.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. angela1313 says:

    I loved this. I have a deadline to get my masters thesis done and you know when you have a deadline your mind just wants to flee. Now after this brief vacation to Jamaica I am ready for work. My mom’s mom was Irish and I realized watching this the Irish have quite a few traits that would help them fit in Jamaica.

    1. Pleased to be of assistance! Haha! The Irish have contributed a lot to Jamaican culture and dialect, actually. Our accents are quite similar, and we pronounce things quite like each other. But they have that rolling of some syllables, and we’ve got that more abrupt accent. If you haven’t seen this yet, check it out when you get the chance. It talks about Irish influence on Jamaica and what Irish people are surprised to notice when they set foot on our island: https://alexischateau.com/2017/02/10/the-6-main-ethnic-groups-that-created-jamaican-culture/ 🙃

  2. MG Mason says:

    I can tell by their grammar and syntax that they are either second-generation Jamaicans living in the UK

    This comment brought a smile to my face. There’s a famous black comedian over here called Lenny Henry. He was born in the UK to Jamaican parents. He doesn’t sound Jamaican at all.

    Anyway, I’ve just tried to find a clip on YouTube (but nothing) of a stand up he did in the 1990s. In this clip, he says every time he goes to Jamaica he tries to fit in but says they can “smell he is English” even when he puts on a thick Jamaican accent and dresses the part, he gets asked “You is Englishman right?”

    1. Hahahahaha, we’re like a secret society man. We know our own! Most Jamaicans don’t know I’m Jamaican though, unless I switch to patois. Almost everyone I meet from anywhere assumes I’m from California. Some people, usually African Americans and Canadians, have asked if I’m British. I think it’s the way I pronounce some words. I always tell people if you listen long enough you’ll realise my pronunciations are not American, even if I have a flat accent that passes for it.

      I’ve never heard of Lenny Henry, but that is a pretty Jamaican name to have. 😂

      1. MG Mason says:

        You might not be familiar with him, but I’d be surprised if you’d never come across any of his work. Though best known as a stand-up comedian, he’s done a lot of voice work, serious drama rolls and sit-coms.

        Here is a fantastic older clip where he does an impression of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, and then whites up to do an impression of Steve Martin.

      2. That’s not a clickable link, for some reason. I’ll have to try it when I get on a computer.

        It’s perfectly possibly I’ve never come across his work though. I don’t watch TV, rarely go to the movies, and I’m not a big fan of comedy. I’m mostly into books.

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