How an ex-girlfriend’s jibe propelled me to success

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The story of Ayo Makun, the popular comedian refer to as AY is a testimony to the fact that a man is not what he is presently is, he could be so much more. AY was travelling in life at such a slow speed that his girlfriend then told him to take a walk but today the story has changed. The girl and other numerous bevy of beauty are clamouring for his attention and cash. This is AY Live.

What would you attribute your success to?
It is God. Most importantly God, but I also give it to hard work. I am a passion-driven individual. If I decide to do anything, I just don't want to go there because I have seen it done or because other people are doing it. I just go there because I have seen it done once, and how is it being done?

What direction am I going to take mine from? From what perspective and how will the people perceive this direction of mine? Then I follow it with all the passion and then prayerfully, it works. In will say it is hard work, it is the passion I have for whatever I choose to do I don't get involved because other people are doing it, for that reason, I want to go and do it; I want to do it because I know I can make a difference, I want to do it because I know that people are going to see what I am doing differently and they are going to appreciate it differently. When you have all that in place, it converts to everything you want it to become.

So it is simply passion?
Yes passion.

Would you say you are lucky?
Sometimes the word lucky would come to play. But I have a better word, which relegates lucky to the background. I will say that I am blessed and highly favoured. It goes beyond luck. I have seen myself being here, being there and at the end of the day, I know that I am blessed and highly favoured. Let me not sound so spiritual, His grace has been so sufficient for the AY brand and that is what is keeping me alive. That is the more reason why I commit all to God before I take any decision. I don't want to believe that any time that I am doing anything, it is my talent. I still put the amount of hard work into it and just expect the favour of God to do the icing on the cake.

What is difference between the AY of yore and now?
You have said it all, the difference between the AY of that time and the AY that you see now is the improved AY. When you find yourself in an industry, you just look for that particular thing that will give you the in-road into the business. For me, the cliché then was like the Okotie thing the O ohn ohn thing. And now when you get an inroad with that and you get into the industry, you can't dwell within the circumference of that O ohn ohn emblem. And everybody says okay now, he is going to do grammar but because it is something that becomes synonymous with your brand or that your brand becomes synonymous with, people already know that and the only way you can give these people what is known as the wow factor or the X factor is for them to just sit back and say 'Bobo yen tun ti de; what we are going to hear is the o ohn ohn'. And you come from a different perspective. Then you have been able to pass a message across that you are a rounded character and that you are not a flat character. The flat character will just stick to one line and just take it from that perspective and he becomes stereotyped.

How do you improve yourself?
Well, I am a great researcher. As you are in my office now, I am not comfortable because I don't have my laptop in front of me. Even while this interview was going to start, I was asking my brother to connect the Internet. I am a deep researcher. I want to know what is happening in America not because I want to get a visa and go to America. The Internet is here in front of me. In the last 24 hours, I have been dissecting Hillary Clinton's speech when she came to Nigeria and I have been able to make a lot out of it.

That way, I stand of front of my audience and I can do my jokes and give you facts. I relate with issues and people would be wondering; is this guy a comedian or is he an educator? But then, I am achieving both. As I am giving you information that are relevant to you and at the end of the day, I am weaving my comedy in between and before you know it, you are going home with two things. For example, if I have a crisis for example, I want to see myself talking about it and relating with it in such a way that I will make people laugh, and ease their tension even while they are in that situation.

Most times when I go to church, (I attend Chris Okotie's church) and I listen to the man preach (because I know that he is grammatical), his ability to speak grammar on per second billing is something that a lot of people like and they want to savour. I will go to church with an extra paper and I will do my jottings and I will come home and build some jokes around it and people will laugh. That is how I improve myself. For example, I can park my car now and take a ride in a BRT bus for me to get a BRT joke.

Have you ever entered a BRT before?
Of course yes.

For jokes or some other things?
For jokes, I took a ride in a BRT bus just because I wanted to have the experience not because I was rushing anywhere.

What about Molue?
Molue? That was back in the days when I just came to Lagos. Those were my beauty pageant days when I used to bring my contestants from the Delta State University to Lagos for them contest in bigger pageants. Then, I used to commute in Molue.

Can you do me now one Hillary Clinton joke?
I should be asking you now to pay me money to do that.

How much?
As a matter of fact, I just concluded a write-up, which I have posted on Facebook. I just posted it this morning and the topic is not far-fetched. The topic is: Must we hear from Hillary Clinton? Now I know that my fans would go through it, they are going to see the comedy in it and they are going to see the seriousness because it is a topical issue. I dealt with it seriously on the way that readers will be thinking, is this guy a comedian or is he an activist or an analyst? That is one thing I want people to keep saying about my brand.

I was going through this magazine when I saw the picture of your wife and your daughter. Then I started wondering why you married early?
Early? I wouldn't say I married early. I have this looks that depicts I'm young. But in terms of age, I am not really that young. If somebody is around the circumference of forty, then he is old enough to have a wife and kids. I mean I should have been married six, seven years ago.

When I say early in the entertainment circle, I don't mean it in terms of age. I am sure you know people that are older than you in the industry that are still single.
Of course yes. But if that is the context of early that you are referring to, then I will say it is just for me to maintain my focus. I was brought up in a background where my father was a major figure. His presence alone would correct anything that seemed wrong. Unfortunately I lost both my dad and mum during my university days. They were always teaching us that the fear of Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I can rephrase that and say, 'the fear of my father being around was the beginning of me trying to get anything that I do right' because I always would do what he wanted me to do.

During my bachelor days, I couldn't even stay out late; there was this feeling that would always warn me not to stay out late. I was always having the feeling that my mum and dad were not around. But I still wanted to have that absolute control and all of these gave birth to the fact that one needs to be responsible, to plan 'early enough'. One needs to have a woman you can call your own and start getting responsible. But there are people in the industry who are equally regretting not getting married before they became big and they are having problem with whom to choose because they don't know what the interest is right now. But as for me, I can attest to the fact that the interest has always been defined from the days of my starting off in Lagos. My wife, who was my girl friend then, was busy sending me recharge cards from school from her pocket money. But today, the story is different now.

You said the story is different, can you tell me what the story used to be?
The story for me used to be a story of a young man who went through a lot. I spent nine years in the university and a lot of people began to wonder why. I wasn't a failure, but I was somebody who was unable to get his priority right at the very early stage. Because I needed to be in school, I decided to study Music with the intention of taking elective courses that goes in line with Mass Communication. And good enough for me, I passed all the elective courses very well, but the department rejected my application to go. So I had to study Music. It was at the point of my final year in Music that I made a decision that I wasn't going to graduate in music. I took JAMB form again, I now put in for Theatre Arts because you know that when you find yourself in a system, you will have a better understanding of that system. So, I later discovered that Theatre Arts could equally give me everything that I could get in communication because they belong to the same family and that was how I went theatre art where the priority problem came in.

I used to have this girl friend then, who represented Nigeria for Miss World in 1988 and anytime any lecturer made passes at her, it became a problem and I was just a nonentity, just an ordinary student on campus. I just discovered all my course registration forms started missing from one stage to another. I was in my final year of Theatre Arts when they told me that they could not find my course registration form for 200 Level. It meant that my result was illegal and I needed to repeat. I decided to leave school and I came back to Lagos trying to find my way out of Nigeria. I met somebody who duped me, so I had to go back to Abraka to repeat the 200 Level. But by the time I got there, the registration had closed. So I had to come back the following year to start 200 Level and I was sponsoring myself in school.

What propels you?
Well, the determination to succeed propels me. What people see as something that is supposed to weigh me down became the needed tonic for what will just propel me to another level. For comedy, it was other comedians who knew me as an events person and they will ask, 'AY dey crack joke too? Wetin he wan talk?' Many of them said that to me, but my response was they should wait and see what I would become. And it has happened. In the area of relationship, there was this lady who told me point blank that I was approaching life at snail speed. She said at the rate at which I was accelerating, she don't see herself in my future. It became the needed tonic to propel me to another level, as I was moving at snail speed. 'If you see a snail, you go know how dem say my life be'.

Who was that?
It's an ex-girlfriend that we dated for like three years and we were thinking that we're going to get married, and it didn't happen that way.

After that time when she called you when you were almost already made, what did she say?
The same thing every other human would say. I want you back. I am sorry and what have you, can we just pick up from where we stopped. I wondered why I should go back. I felt I did not need to dedicate my love, interest and everything to somebody who believes in me because of my newfound status.

When did you discover comedy?
It was in 2005 and in 2006, it blew out of proportion and I got the best upcoming comedian for that year and for the matter of fact that same year that I was nominated for the best upcoming comedian, I was nominated for the comedian of the year. That was what gave me the confidence for my one-man show, AY live. The maiden edition was held at the Muson Centre and it was a sell-out show. I want to say it is hard-wok and luck put together because we are doing a lot as well; I am not the kind of comedian who just believes that let me just go and crack joke and make a living.