Going back to the 80’s era, a few sitcom programmes were aired on TV such as Basi & Co, Second chance, The New Masquerade, Koko Close, which thrilled the Nigerian viewers, especially Lagosians with various hilarious episodes. Sitcom was definitely “it”. However, one man decided to take the bull by the horn and introduce stand up comedy to the Nigerian populace. Opa Benson’s, “Nite of a thousand laughs” which made its debut on to the entertainment scene on October 1st 1995, made the desired impact, which some doubting Thomases never believed could happen. It became a regular event with its acceptability gaining more grounds over time.
Various comedians came together under this platform to reel out rib cracking jokes. However, Tee- A (Babatunde Adewale), decided to take comedy to a higher dimension and was the first to stage a one man comedy show in the country, with the slogan “Live N Naked”. Other comedians seeing the endless possibilities such individual shows created followed suit. Ayo Makun’s “A.Y Live”, Bright Okpocha’s “Basket mouth uncensored”, Julius Agwu’s “Crack ya ribs” have become regular shows. Comedians such as Owen gee, Koffi, Gordons, I go die, Teju baby face, Gbenga Adeyinka the first, Basorge Tara jnr have graced their events.
On an annual basis, new comedians on the block are inducted into the comedy world to join the old members. They proudly refer to themselves as “Comedians of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with Alleluya Atuyota Akporobomeriere a.k.a Ali Baba as their Grand commander in chief. A few females have carved niches for themselves in this male dominating field such as Princess, Mandy, Lepacious Bose, and Helen Paul a.k.a tatafo. Ayo Makun, beside his regular stand up comedy event has gone a step further in his noble quest to discover young talented comedians seeking the opportunity to jump start a potential stand up comedy career. His monthly talent show coupled with his TV programme “The A.Y.show” has witnessed young people coming into the field. Bumi Davies (though not a comedian) organises the “Stand up Nigeria” monthly stand up comedy show which entertains Nigerians as well.
Fame and fortune have accompanied these comedians with some being engaged as comperes in corporate/social events, and also endorsing companies products by way of adverts for eg Hollandia Milk (Ali Baba, Julius Agwu), and Glo ( Basket mouth). Corporate bodies even sponsor these stand up comedy shows. A better life has been guaranteed for comedians who possess the laughter medicine and are skilled in administering sufficient dosages of it to the audience. Besides the creeping threat of re-cycled jokes which some comedians are kicking against, and the need for other states to become beneficiaries of the laughter sphere, stand up comedy has not done badly in the Nigerian entertainment circuit and with certitude is here to stay!