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Basket Mouth
What role did Ali Baba play in your life?
Ali Baba played all the roles I needed as an upcoming comedian at a point that I met him. Ali was a friend, a colleague, a brother, a teacher, he was the one that actually made me start tilting towards anchoring events.

Before I was just a plain standup comedian… I just go on stage and I was really into jokes . Ali Baba was the one that made me start creating materials and doing more story telling because I have stories. So he was like look, stop cracking jokes start telling stories because that was my strength.

Ali Baba cracked jokes but at a level he said you know what, you tell stories, talk about life, you've been through all these things and that's your style. So I said okay, and fed on all that I had in my head and he guided me and I would say I owe it to a lot of people.I can't start mentioning their names now but Ali Baba was the first person. The only reason why I always say I owe everything to this man is that he was the first person that brought me in without any sense if insecurity. He was always saying this boy is hot….

Where did you meet him?
We met at Benin. When he came to do a show, I went as a fan to watch him perform and I went back stage to greet him. The next time we met I was practicing comedy and when I finished he actually stood up to give me a standing ovation and that was the opportunity. So I went to meet him afterwards and we hit it off from that point and since that point he's been very supportive.

You worked for him as a P.A?
Yeah I worked for him as a P.A. (laughs) but it's unofficial. I worked with him for like two years and while I was his P.A I was like a dummy …like if he has two events he would say 'Bright come in and perform. I have another event stand him for me', he would go and come back. I was always like one of the guys that stay to guide the event. He was training me at that point because at that time I never thought I would be able to stand before dignitaries to hold a microphone. At that point he liked me so it was never a problem for him to leave a venue and come back only for people at the event to be shouting at him or talking to him recklessly.

They won't even know he left for somewhere else when he comes back. If anyone asks, I just say bros go ease himself, he dey come back, so you do this and you do that and that was actually what he was doing. So he introduced me to most of his clients. That was why the growth was faster. So apart from just being his P.A I was always going to every event and he was always giving me opportunities to perform for top people and that was how the name spread a little bit faster than it would have . If I had not met Ali Baba, I might still be here at the level I am right now or the growth may be slower, who knows, but he was one of the people that kick – started me.

One of the biggest challenges most entrepreneurs in Nigeria face is that committed workers are difficult to come by. How would you react to this?

I agree with you that getting the right team to work with you is a difficult task but I would say that so far I have been lucky. In fact I can boldly say that so far in my career if not for the people working with me I will not be where I am today. Their dogged commitment to the business is one of the reasons for its growth. With Umeri Magnus (legal adviser), Makun Dotun (manager),Uwah Chichi (event booking manager), Ariwayo Kayode (logistic manager) and the rest who are contract staffs, I would say that I have been exempted from the staff challenge.

We heard your colleagues were not at your father's burial, what happened?

Not all of them. I go die , Don Jazzy , Gandoki, I go save, Sim Card, and Buchi came . But Gandoki, Sim card and I go save were actually on their way. They thought it was going to be an all night thing not knowing it was a day thing, so we met on the way and we slept in Owerri. Some of them couldn't come because they had an event, some didn't come because they didn't feel like it because coming to my village is quite a long journey. I understand if anybody said look I can't come I won't be able to make it and aside that they didn't come because they felt that in the past I have not really be present at their own event which I understand . So I don't hold any grudge against anybody. The reason why you hardly see me around during events organized by my colleagues or friends is because I'm extremely busy. If I can't make it, I'll tell you friend I can't make it but most people don't understand.

Did you invite all of them?
I invited all of them. Some of them didn't tell me they won't come and some of them after the event didn't even call to say how did it go and I was like is this a sign to let me know that guy 'we are angry at you or whatever'. But I don't think so, because I have been at most of their events …wedding, birthdays whatever. That shouldn't be the reason it has to be something else .Whatever their reasons I don't want to know. I'm not going to hold any grudges against anybody.

But didn't you feel bad?
I felt bad , because when I celebrated my son's 1st birthday everybody came.All my comedian colleagues were there and when I was now celebrating death most of them didn't come and I was like are we fair weather friends or are we friends for real? So that was the only thing that made me feel bad.

Have you been able to get to any of them?
I got to a few of them. Those that I really hold dear to me… I told them guys I don't like what you did… you should have called me. Most of them I let go because it's fine. It's just that I'm that kind of person…. if I invite you to come eat and celebrate with me and you come, and I later invite you to come feel the pain that I'm facing right now and you don't come I will find it hard to invite you to come and eat with me again. So just in case I don't invite some people to my wedding they will probably understand.

So let's come to this your son, how old is he now?

My son is going to be two years in May.
When are you getting married?
I'm thinking of getting married this year. My younger sister is getting married this year; so I'm trying to give a little bit of space because it will consume a lot of money. Regarding my wedding we're trying as much as possible to make it very small and at the same time very loud and so I don't want to rush, but definitely I'm getting married this year.

You want to get married to the mother of your son… is it as a result of necessity or as a result of love?

Love really. I've known her for like six years and apart from the fact that she's the mother of my son we are also friends and it's easier to live a happily married life with someone that understands you and someone that you really have a good communication with. Mainly I'm not particular about love itself .I'm particular about communication, friendship, and understanding which is what we have. I can't start a new relationship dealing with anybody else.

The Lord of the Ribs is a new show replacing Basket Mouth Uncensored. Before you talk of the one that will take place in Nigeria let's talk about the one that took place in U.K. The show attracted a lot of accolades. What did you do right and how do you feel?

Okay I didn't know that it was going to be another sell-out by a black comedian in the UK. Eddie Kaddie was my M.C. What we did right was actually the publicity. The publicity was elaborate and the venue was extremely perfect we couldn't have made a better choice. There was something about the 02. The biggest concert has been held at the 02. So we were like okay, we're going to do this because I didn't want to get into a mini show in London and just pick one cheap venue.

The show is not registered, there is no work permit, I am performing and scared of immigration, you know all that. So we went through the right sources and we applied for work permit, paid tax, insured the show, did everything right and because of what we did there was no limitation to the amount of publicity that we were going to do. Talking about how it became a success, I think apart from the fact that it was well publicized, what we are selling was worth it. A lot of people came there to watch me perform and I gave them what they came for. I tried my best to make sure that they got what they wanted. And it was a good show … it was extremely good, it wasn't just directed to us Nigerians, there were Ghanaians, South Africans, Zimbabweans even the British people we had a couple of them there. I'm still hoping that I will still repeat that event there because it was something I never thought could happen and after this one I might do one next year .

I don't know yet but there was no other way to start because I stopped doing Basket mouth uncensored last year and I wanted to bring up a new brand which was the Lord of the Ribs and there was no other way to start Lord of the Ribs than to start the way it started. The platform we used, the crowd and all that would make the next edition which is in Lagos easier to achieve. I'm also bringing in some comedians from U.K to join me. They all said the show was great thanks to all the people that came…

What should we expect from the Lord of the Rib in Nigeria?

Lord of the Rib in Nigeria will be featuring two U.K comedians and one South African comedian. One of the U.K comedians is white and he speaks Pigin English and Yoruba. He's extremely funny. His name is Kevin J and he's one of the biggest comedians in the U.K right now. The other comedian, Eddy Carle is a Congolese but he's also British. He was actually at the show at the Old 02 arena the one with the 20,000 seating capacity. The C.Ds will be sold out because since September the thing is almost half gone.

The comedian from South Africa, David Cow is extremely good also. He is black and he's one of the biggest comedians in South Africa. I'll also be featuring two or three comedians from Nigeria like Bovi, Buchi, and I go die. I won't be able to feature more Nigerian comedians because there would be no time but I'm also trying to build a platform, a new show that will give other comedians an opportunity to also be on stage but right for Lord of the Rib in Lagos we are trying as much as possible to make it extremely different because I'm not going to be the only comedian.

We are trying to make it as big as possible using the new venue at the new Expo Center that has 25,000 seating capacity and we are looking at making it a little bit affordable unlike my previous shows that tilted towardsN5000, and N10,000. This one is going to be a little bit cheaper but definitely we intend to make it one of the biggest comedy events ever in the history of comedy in Nigeria. That's my plan. I intend to do it to the point where even the foreigners too will be part of it.

When will it take place?
We are looking at June. I heard that there are a couple of events in May so I'm looking at June and July but it won't go beyond the summer because a lot of the people will be traveling. So it will be right before summer.

Will it be cheaper than N5, 000?
Yes, it might be. We are still looking at it. N5, 000

Give us a bit of yourself what did you do in school?

I attended UNIBEN . I studied sociology and I left in 2001. I didn't do a BSc degree. I did two diplomas, in sociology and anthropology and also sociology on its own. I was supposed to do my direct entry and go further. I just felt the one I had already don do, make I face comedy which is my talent. For me it's not about the certificate but it's about the talent. I definitely don't see myself using my certificate to work. I cannot do the 9am - 5pm thing except I'm going to my own company. I started professional comedy in 2000 so I'm supposed to be celebrating my ten years on stage but I don't believe in all these celebrations because I feel like I've not really done anything. So I'll probably wait till I am twenty years old on stage and by then I'll probably be in my early forties so I will still be young in the industry.

What would you say of other comedians that copy other people's jokes …. have you ever copied other people's jokes?

I have not copied other people's jokes but I have copied their subject matters. So when people talk about something and I like it, I'll elaborate on it. So it's all about ideas. You pick an idea on someone else's jokes. It's natural . I've used Ali Baba's joke before not because I ran out of jokes but because I liked it. I told him bros this joke I am seizing it; it's no more your joke. When it comes to copying other people's jokes, some comedians do so due to laziness. It is also an act of disrespect for the originators because these people go through a lot in getting a good joke and someone from nowhere comes up and uses the joke.

Who are your top five upcoming comedians?
I won't call them upcoming comedians. I'll call them young comedians and they can't be five. I'll have to mention ten. I like Seyi law, D Don, Mr Patrick, Buchi, I like Bovy a whole lot because his style is actually like mine and the same thing with Buchi.He is very, very spontaneous I like both of them. I can take both of them out of the whole lot and if I say I want to choose my first two I will choose them. I don't want to mention names because they may feel bad if I don't mention their names .

There are other comedians like Ele nu, Mc Shakara, then the lecturals. I admire their work , because they have it in them although I can't really remember all their names.

Let's come to your own class, your top five biggest comedians?

Hmmm number one is Oke bakasi, I go die, Gandoki, Ali Baba and Basorge

Okay who are the five worse comedians?
I can't say that … I can't say that, I'm sorry.