I love when people challenge me.........Ayo Makun aka AY
Ayo Makun popular called AY in the past 3 years has contributed in no small measure to the growth of Nigerian comedy industry. The Delta State born compere and standup comedian who hails from Ifon, Ondo State has been into showbiz for several years before his path crossed with that of his mentor and King of Nigerian comedy, Alli Baba in year 2005. In this interview the graduate of Theatre Arts from Delta State University spoke on his success in Nigeria comedy, his relationship with Alli Baba, the sources of his jokes, his marriage to Mabel on November 29, 2008, why he mimics Rev. Chris Okotie and other issues.
Your success in comedy has encouraged a lot of young Nigerians to see that one could succeed within a short while. How would you describe your journey so far?
Since I embarked on the journey as a comedian it has not been easy. Good enough I had someone who was beside me when I decided to go into comedy. He helped me achieve a lot when I decided to go into comedy. I will forever make reference to Alli Baba as far a my achievement in comedy is concerned.
How did your relationship with Alli Baba start?
My relationship with Alli Baba started when I organized a show back in school and I invited Alli Baba to be part of the show. He was impressed with how I organized the show so he requested that I come to Lagos to organize events. When I decided to relocate to Lagos in year 2003, I did not come to Lagos as a comedian. Alli Baba accommodated me and was feeding me.
Thereafter he offered me the job of being his personal assistant and his event manager. In this course of my working with him I discovered movers and shakers in the industry respect him. I said to myself that if he has all the respect because he makes people laugh.I decided I could become a comedian and the fact that I am a graduate of Theatre arts. I have the conviction that I could do well because it was easy for me to scribble some lines, stand before the audience and act those lines out. As a producer and a promoter I could also understand what the audience would like. With all these I decided to become a professional stand-up comedian.
I started by performing during the Alli Baba Fans Club Show at Victoria Garden City (VGC). Before Alli Baba performed I would have performed. Sometimes the jokes were funny and some times they were not funny. But Alli Baba would always advice on those jokes. The next week I would have taken to corrections and I did those things he advised and the audience were thrilled with my jokes. That was how I horned my skills as a comedian. Interestingly, when I was not yet a comedian I had several scripts on jokes that I wanted to give those that will perform. It was just time for me to make use of those scripts.
When did you experience the breakthrough?
My break through came at the Made In Warri of year 2005. Prior to that time I had done a show with Basket Mouth during his show Laughs and Jams and he was telling Alli Baba how I performed well. But one way or the other a comedian said he would use my jokes because I was not a comedian. It was then Alli Baba insisted that I will perform for 5 minutes. During the show, Alli Baba beckoned on me and said "O ma se 5 minutes" (You will perform for 5 minutes). I immediately got on stage and Opa Williams wondered how I got on stage to perform at his show which was a big show. I went ahead to do my thing and in less than 30 seconds I had taken the show to another level. By the time I was leaving the stage I got a standing ovation. By the time the second show would commence Opa Williams asked me if I could do what I did in the first show. That was all I needed for somebody to believe in me. The second show was greater than the first show and ever since then comedy has been putting food on the table for me.
How have been able to sustain the tempo since year 2005?
I am not the kind of comedian who basks in the euphoria of an immediate success. In the comedy industry there are people who have made their names and it is not that we are competing but then everyone needs to make a mark. Basically I try to make sure I continue to be relevant despite the fact that I am making waves and my jokes are selling. I try so hard not to repeat my jokes. I do a lot of researches on the internet and I read books on various issues in life. For instance I worship with at Rev. Chris Okotie's church to grasp some of his grammatical expressions just to see how I can make comedy out of it. You will agree with me that comedy has gone beyond lion dey pursue monkey. Comedians are social commentators so people want jokes that they can relate with and laugh. Like the traffic situation in Lagos, electric power outage from PHCN and other issues.
What are the sources of your jokes?
I get my jokes from the internet, I read lots of books and materials. I do a lot of research on the internet about different terminologies that has to do with the issues. For instance I read books and surf the internet to know about issues relating to kidney problems. I do all this to infuse humour into it and not make it detrimental to Mr. President. That is why I have the likes of Rev. Chris Okotie as my friend.
Did you imagine the success will come so quick?
Not at all. The only thing God has given me from time is the courage of believing in anything. All I need is to believe I can do it. I am a product of the street. So if there are laurels coming in they are as a result of my street credibility. I think I got that from my late parents. But I think people make mistakes that I came into the industry recently. They have forgotten that I organized shows for many years before working with Alli Baba.
What keeps you going?
I love when people challenge me. Or say I can't do some things. As soon as I hear that I will make sure I get to a point where those sayings will be changed.
Let us into your background
I grew up from a family of 7. I am the first male child. We hail from Ifon in Ondo State. But I was born and bred in Delta State so everything about me is Delta. I am so much into Delta State than my state of origin. I am a street product so while growing up I tried dry cleaning, bar tending (bar man), scavenging, in fact I once worked as a barber. I did all that in Delta State.
Would you say you had the traits of comedy while you were growing up?
I am not in the league of people who claim they were born with comic traits. While I was young people laughed wherever I am. I headed the church drama unit as young as I was than I did the casting and directing. That helped me in secondary school and later in the University where I ended up studying Theatre Arts and I graduated as one of the best directors in my class. I once contributed jokes on Delta State radio station. Then I was not a stand-up comedian. It was not until I came to Lagos that I realized that it was serious business.
Recently you got married how has been your marriage life?
My marriage life has been so wonderful and fruitful. I heard a lot when I wanted to get married. People deceived me that my fan base will reduce. Just like they will deceive D'Banj today, that the Kokolets will desert him when he gets married. It is all lies. It was when I got married that I began to have more female fans. I realize that marriage brings sense of responsibility and respect. I enjoy a lot of respect as a married man. Marriage is blissful. Myself and my wife, Mabel are blessed with Adeola who is 7 months old.
Why do you like to mimic Rev. Chris Okotie?
The last time I cracked a joke on him was about 2 years ago. I love to mimic him because of his person, character and good command of English. I decided to do that while his sermon tagged Apocalypses was on the television. I wanted to do a joke people could relate with then and that was how it started.
How do you cope with female admirers?
I am not a saint but I know when to put a stop to friendship. I know the implication of loosing what I have right now. It is a matter of knowing what I am doing. Some women go to church to tempt men of God. It been dangerous and difficult coping with female admirers but God has been there for me.
How comfortable are you?
I am very comfortable. I may not have all the mansions now but I know I will have all those in no time because I know creativity helps a man achieve a lot. Right I am comfortable that I afford to eat any meal I want with my family.
How do you relax?
That is a serious question. It is a question my wife would have loved to answer on my behalf. She will simply say "my husband does not relax." I am a workaholic. But once in a while I go with my family to watch movie but you can bet it would have been my idea. Sometimes I watch foreign comedy movies.