In childhood, he dreamed of becoming a priest. He doesn’t joke about politics and is convinced that we lack patience the most. He helps our defenders, but until the resent days he refused from the Order of the “People’s Hero”. About childhood and the development of humor, volunteering and the ideal president – the way Serhiy Prytula himself sees it in the section “Who is…” from Opinion.
About bright childhood and dreams of becoming a priest
Recalling his childhood, Prytula confesses with a smile: his entire childhood was bright.
“I had absolutely amazing, joyful childhood, from the very first day of my life and until today, because for my mother I am still a child. The years spent in Vyshnivka that is 30 kilometers from Zbarazh, at my grandparents’ place were amazing!”
But, beyond that, as a kid, we often dream of professions, which sometimes turn out to be completely opposite to our career choice in adult life. Being a child, Serhiy Prytula didn’t think about the future of an actor or TV host. He dreamed of being… a priest.
“In his time, my grandfather put a lot of effort and time to preserve the Pryzamkova Voznesenska church in the village of Vyshnyvets in the Ternopil region. He made a deal with the authorities and they didn’t destroy the temple founded in 1530. When I was a boy, I always came to this church with my family. And my grandfather always helped the local priest, actually he performed the deacon’s duties. Following his example, I dreamed of being a priest in my childhood.”
What helps to keep up the “non-stop” mode of operation?
Answering this question, the actor jokes, that it’s his wife Mrs. Kateryna that keeps him up. Then he becomes more serious and adds: the family is really a great source of energy replenishment during the work processes.
“Secondly, we are not working on the camera, our audience is sitting in the auditorium, and the spectator is very thankful to us and he responds very well, supports very sincerely, even if we have a technical pause or some kind of force majeure during shooting, viewers show their loyalty. Although they are people who have paid their money, they can be quite demanding, but everyone understands that filming a TV version is not a concert, so they’re supporting us very much.
About the development of Ukrainian humor
It is unlikely that anyone will be surprised that everything changes and develops. Humor is not an exception, especially, Ukrainian one. Serhiy himself stresses in an interview – now it’s somewhere in the stage of budding. Our projects started to multiply, and the hegemony of Kvartal 95 was violated, for example by Diesel Show and Varyaty.
“Both those projects have found their audience, have received successful television and tour schedule, which is practically constant. It goes without saying that we still have to work to get to the level of powerful cinema production, for which Kvartal 95 was always famous, but I think that it’s also a matter of time. Now, when the Russian distribution market is closed, almost all are put in the same conditions: to produce budget full-length films for the domestic consumer.
About political jokes
The showman is firmly convinced: jokes about politics, as well as jokes with swear words, are the ways of the least resistance for a comedian. As for curse words, everything was clear at the peak of Comedy Club popularity: if a sketch is not funny, just put some swear words in it and it will get a fresh coat of paint.
“As for politics, in our politicized society, it has a 90% chance of a direct hit with laughter. However, the current market situation states that the cake is large and there are enough people for everybody. I have feedback from our viewers – they thank us for not stepping into politics. Therefore, we do not suffer. Well, I’m joking about politics in a narrow circle of friends or somewhere in other programs of the Novyi Channel.”
About things in modern Ukraine that trouble and concern
The biggest concern of the TV host is the war. The more annoying fact is that not so much depends on us, because “the ball is not on our half of the field,” a lot comes down to the leadership of Russia. However, this is not the only thing that Prytula thinks about.
“It is puzzling that after the Revolution of Dignity there was a great euphoria. Many people from the private sector decided to help the country and went to the public service. A few of them have left. Unfortunately, the schemes remained. The system breaks people, not vice versa. Everywhere there are comfortable, well-established rules of the game. Nobody wants to change it. There is an esprit de corps.
In order to break the system, there must be a political will of the country’s top leadership. The activity of civil society has significantly increased. People conduct investigations, raise inconvenient questions to the authorities. However, to speak is one thing, to fight this – it is completely another one.”
About the assessment of the Revolution of Dignity results
Answering this question of journalists, the actor emphasizes: objectively speaking we could not start with a gallop. Taking into account the war that has started in the country, many economic ties were torn, we were forced to reorient ourselves to other markets.
“However, not everything is about the economy. During the first year, great hopes were laid on lustration and reforms. We hoped that Yanukovych officials will never get power again. Svoboda (Ukrainian right-wing political party – translator’s note) had its own Prosecutor General in the government. Then Svoboda said that he had left them, and they didn’t bear responsibility for him. In any case, Mr. Makhnytskyi (from February 24 to June 18, 2014, served as the Prosecutor General) had the opportunity to enter the history, to bring an investigation into the shootings of the Heavenly hundreds to an end. Neither he nor his successors managed to do it. My school teacher of physical education Volodymyr Holodniuk had a son Ustym who had died at the Maidan. Imagine his feelings when he comes from Zbarazh to an investigator in Kyiv, and this case is not even made. It looked like sabotage.”
About an ideal president
Prytula immediately emphasizes here, it is prescribed in the law “On the election of the President of Ukraine”. Another thing is that there are no ideals at all.
“We like to quote Lee Kuan Yew. He said, “Start with putting three of your friends to jail. You definitely know what for, and people will believe you.” Under the rule of a good president, prisons should be replenished not only by accountants from private enterprises but also by officials of the highest ranks that own piles of gold and relics of saints in their safes. If a person works as a civil servant with a fixed salary but has a bunch of expensive property – he has to explain it. Enough to create stories about grandmothers that are good in business and are the happy owners of a few factories. The president has his own vertical – from himself and to the governors and heads of regional state administrations. By appointing to these posts people untarnished by corruption schemes, a lot can be changed.”
About volunteer activity
Prytula has been engaged in charity since 2007, beginning with the support of orphanages. Back then charitable organizations quite often just laundered money, now we can rejoice: there are organizations with a narrow specialty. Serhiy himself is helping our defenders, not the first year. At the same time, he is convinced that any volunteer is perceived positively by people until he is a part of authorities.
“A good volunteer is really useful at his place. As soon as he enters politics, he becomes a counselor to the president or prime minister, and people do not adequately perceive him because authorities are always a priori ‘bad’. It happens that you are really a good person, but no matter how hard you try people will see that you are power, and therefore… you’re automatically a douche.”
Serhiy was awarded the People’s Hero of Ukraine Order in 2016 for his volunteer activity. However, the showman subsequently told reporters that it was… the worst award he had ever wanted in his life. The worst of all. Moreover, the actor refused from this order until defenders “hinted” and other volunteers supported him.
“Under what circumstances did I receive this award, what did I receive it for? For my work? No. I got it just because during the war I’m helping guys. The root cause of this award makes me extremely sad and vulnerable.
I refused it. They wanted to hand it over to me in 2014 or 2015. I refused because I had my reasons for that. Then, the boys from the 8th special forces regiment called me, they were my favorites in 2014-2015. They tell me, Serhiy we’ve nominated you, and you, do as you should. Then few more volunteers called me, whose opinion I value, and said that I should stop being an asshole and showing off. So I thought that, indeed, it would be somehow bad if I keep on saying no.”
About the Ukrainian language
Reflecting on the language issue, Prytula notes: there are certain obvious things. For example, the Constitution clearly defines Ukrainian as the only state language in Ukraine. Therefore, if you are a governmental official, you receive money from the state – be a nice fellow and meet the standards that are defined by the “main instruction” for you.
“In fact, it’s so funny when in an independent Ukraine a civil servant of the highest rank can’t combine even two words in Ukrainian. It is ridiculous when a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada simply doesn’t know how to speak Ukrainian. So here we have a question – how he received citizenship at all if his previous one was, let’s say, Russian? This also happens here. I don’t know any civilized country in the world where you can get citizenship without knowing the local language, also it is desirable to know the history of the country, a citizen of which you want to become.”
By Dmytro Zhuravel
The publication was collected from numerous interviews, speeches, and appeals of the material’s protagonist.