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How Are Top Comedians Navigating And Coping Amid COVID-19?

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For comedians and lovers of comedy in Nigeria, the celebration of Easter usually comes with heavy doses of laughter. This is because of the several comedy shows that normally hit major cities across the country that weekend. Amongst the many shows, are AY-LIVE Easter Sunday show and Gbenga Adeyinka’s LAFFMATAZZ; which usually moves from one city to the southwest part of the country to another.

But this year, none of these shows held. For the highly anticipated show, AY-LIVE Easter Sunday, its host Ayo Makun aka AY Comedian; said it couldn’t be held as planned due to raging COVID-19. In an interview with Channels TV Metrofile, AY Comedian lamented that although millions of naira had been spent on publicity and planning of the show; it could only hold virtually.

AY Live in Lagos Eko Hotel & Suite 2019 ft I Go Dye, Gordons ...
AY Comedian

“We all didn’t see this coming. Even when I fixed my show, I was 100 per cent confident that the show was still going to hold on the basis of Easter Sunday was going to come. I was busy planning with my management, and other members of my team; until the reality of this COVID-19 dawned on us. AY Live was bid for Easter Sunday (April 12, 2020), but then we had to postpone it.”

“It was very sad to make that announcement having spent a lot of money on publicity, performances; amongst other things that we thought will make the event memorable. But at the end of the day, we had to face the reality; the lives of the people coming for the show are much more important than you; just going there all in the name of making money,” he stated in the interview.

Ali Baba: Comedian Reveals That He Was Once A Bus Conductor - Afro100
Ali Baba

Like AY Comedian, veteran stand-up comedian and actor, Atunyota Akpobome AKA Ali Baba, popular host and comedian, Babatunde Adewale aka Tee A; amongst others also bear the brunt of the ongoing lockdown and ban on social gatherings, which are measures instituted to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

How COVID-19 suspended  their livelihoods

Just before the end of March, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the suspension of all live events and social gatherings. This followed the diagnosis of the index and a number of other COVID-19 cases in Nigeria. Almost three months on, this suspension is still in force and a lot of comedians whose mainstay were from events that hold almost every day in the country have been particularly hit.

Speaking with Channels TV Metrofile, Ali Baba said comedians are the worst hit by COVID-19 lockdown; given that they relied mostly on everyday engagement to earn their livelihoods. His words; “We are the people in the entertainment industry, who rely on everyday earnings to survive. We live by events that come to us, and that means we survive on what we earn per engagement.”

“You can’t understand the number of shows that have been cancelled. AY Live was cancelled, Buchi’s show was cancelled… I was supposed to have a show. My only contribution was to select winners, but that has also been cancelled. There are so many comedians, who provide platforms for other people to grow, from dancers, poets, musicians, and big artistes, and perform, that too has also stopped.”

“So, it has affected us greatly.”

I have no regrets as comedian, says Tee A – Punch Newspapers
Tee A

Sharing Ali Baba’s sentiment, Tee A said comedians are presently not making any revenue due to the infectious disease. According to him, a lot of events couldn’t be held anymore due to COVID-19, and future events are what most comedians are looking forward to. “A lot of us had events prior to the lockdown, but everything is now affected due to the cutting down of gatherings to about 20 persons and shutting down of event centres. Future events are what we are even thinking about now.”

“For instance, It will surprise you to know that I was supposed to work throughout the month of April, but all the events are gone… basically, no revenue is coming in. We are all just breathing, while we are trying to figure out when all these will pass.”

For popular comedienne, Bose Ogunboye, otherwise known as Lepacious Bose; people wrongly believe that being an entertainer makes everything perfect for her, even amid the pandemic. In an interview with Daily Sun, the comedic actor lamented that the consequence of COVID-19 is harsher on comedians, as uncertainty surrounds when people will start gathering together again for events. ‘

“There is no work anywhere, everybody is going through the pandemic. All businesses are shut down, people are broke, companies are closing, and people are being sacked. It is nothing unusual being an entertainer, it is just that our own work comes weekly and we need the crowd.”

“The only difference is we are more in uncertainty because we don’t know when people will start gathering again. I guess people wrongly believe that the life of entertainers is luxurious and glamorous and so, they just assume that we are fine. Really we are all struggling; everybody is struggling,” she said.

Similarly, Mandy Uzonitsha, Nigeria leading comedienne said since there is no event at the moment, comedians are stranded. “Who dey call you for event now, except they get burial ceremony. But who dey even bury now?” she queried in an interview with Daily Sun.

Stand-up Comedians Take to the Internet

AY Comedian admitted that the raging COVID-19 pandemic has brought stand-up comedy to a standstill, leaving “all eyes on the Internet.” Thus, he debuted a comedy series on YouTube for lovers of his brand. “Aside from the AY Live show that was hosted online this year, I now have a comedy series on YouTube. I think the pandemic even came timely for my latest work, which is the comedy series.”

I started a show called 'Laugh Matters' as a springboard for the ...
Gbenga Adeyinka

Amongst the many A-list comedians who have taken to the internet to remain on top of their game, Gbenga Adeyinka, otherwise known as CFR, the popular Master of Ceremony and comedian who had his annual comedy show, LAFFMATTAZZ, postponed indefinitely, has begun an online comedy programme tagged, D LAFFMATTAZZ LEGEND SERIES. The show which features industry stakeholders, mostly comedians and actors, has been attracting thousands of viewers who now look forward to the show every evening.

On how COVID-19 has affected him and influenced his decision to try new things like taking his art online, he told Daily Independent that “COVID-19 qualifies as another low for me and my industry. As it is now, we are on a shutdown. My shows have been postponed.” “

My major sponsors have realigned sponsorship until 2021.”

“I took out loans for initial planning to get things done and creditors are calling. I, however, believe that tough times like this don’t last and that with creative ideas and think­ing as well as diversification, we can overcome and I will. Initially, I was depressed but now my outlook is bright and I’m fighting.”

Also on this list is popular comedian Bright Okpocha AKA Basket Mouth. He recently disclosed his intention to continue dominating the industry, when he premiered Sunday Nite Laughs, a new comedy show that would be held every Sunday for 13 weeks.

Addressing the paradigm shift in the comedy industry, Ali Baba who played an active role in commercialising comedy in Nigeria; said the COVID-19 has shifted a lot of people’s attention online. He explained that while some comedians were already established online before COVID-19, many others are accepting the gospel newly.

The comedian was recently appointed to head an ad hoc committee to advise the government on the effect of the pandemic on the creative sector.

Torrid period for stand-up comedians

Ali Baba AKA the King of Comedy admitted in the Channels TV Metrofile interview that comedians were hitherto some of the busiest professionals in Nigeria. The veteran comedian noted that when they were not working as comedians spicing up events, they worked as MCs at weddings, book launches, birthdays, funerals, and housewarming parties.

He informed further that a comedian could make as much as N300,000 to N3 million per day. His words; “A comedian could earn N1 million when he attends 2-3 events, where they pay him N300,000 each. Sometimes, you even get a comedian that is very good, that will earn that N1 million per event. And if you have a comedian who has 2-3 events in a day, he can claim like N1- 3 million naira.”

But the COVID-19 situation with the lockdown and suspension of public gatherings attending has put a lock on this rosiness. Even  though some of these comedians have found an alternative platform of expression on the internet, it does not come with the dividends of stand up comedy.

The stiff competition online

Before COVID-19 in Nigeria, there was a classification among comedians. Putting a context to this, Ali Baba said: “There are comedians who are stand-up comedians, and there are comedians like MC Lively, Lasisi Elenu, and the little Emmanuela, who are skit makers, they do strictly online comedy.”

I always find it hard to see myself as a comedian —Adedayo, Mr ...
Mr Macaroni

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, skit makers like Mr Macarani, Taaooma, Lasisi Elenu, Woli Arole, amongst others, have been shining like bright lights with humorous skits, leaving people reeling with laughter. Some of them identify as influencers and act as ambassadors for companies and brands for advertisement and advocacy. But things have become a bit stiffer with the incursion of some of the already well-known comedians on the internet.

The King of Comedy himself admitted as much when he said; “A lot of comedians who have not been online are now trying to catch-up because you have a fan base that needs to be fed; relevance that needs to be maintained”. He admitted that this relevance is not necessarily about making money, but maintaining the loyalty of fans and “ensuring that you are putting yourself in the mind of prospective customers.”

That, however, does not take the place of millions that stand up comedians have lost to the pandemic; as well as the difficulty this has placed them in. Even as they find alternative means of making ends meet while the pandemic lasts, comedian Tee A, however; said there is a big lesson for the future from the current situation.

This lesson is: “One thing that is so clear this period is that we waste a lot of time doing businesses. Come for a meeting here and there, going across states to have a ten minutes conversation. Now, everybody is on zoom, everyone is working from home. So operationally, we need to need to adjust to the new way of doing things.”

“More so, COVID-19 has brought the need to evaluate what we are doing, our business processes, and lifestyles. Where do we cut excesses? How do we manage? Where do we start saving? Do we have other sources of income? are mind-boggling questions for everyone begging for answers.”

– Damilare Famuyiwa/eelive.ng

Comedy

Insecure Star, Yvonne Orji, Makes Nigeria Proud In New HBO Comedy Special

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Comedy and laughter, there’s nothing like it and thanks to Yvonne Orji we’ll be getting just that which is highly recommended and needed at the moment. Look, we recognize that these are probably the toughest times we as humanity have had to contend with in recent history but the continuous influx of bad news daily and with more people seemingly having a certain of flair for delivering it, is just, well, very depressing.

The world could use with a bit of joy, in fact there’s a lot of it needed currently. Enter the lovely Yvonne Orji, who thanks to HBO, officially has her first comedy special. For those familiar with the popular series, Insecure, will better know her as Molly. The special is all set for Showmax from tomorrow (6 July 2020) this followed after it first premiered on 1Magic last Friday (3 July 2020). Thanks to the Showmax team we got the opportunity to see it much much earlier.

In her first comedy special outing, Yvonne has the audience rolling with laughter as she brings her razor-sharp wit and confidence to the stage. Both celebrating and poking fun at her strict, formative Nigerian-American upbringing, Yvonne shares her unique journey from pre-med to comedy, talks about parental pressures to get married, and takes us along to Lagos to meet her family and friends.

It’s no secret how much we enjoy comedy and general laughter, comedy specials ensure the best of both. It’s also refreshing to see stand up comedy coming from a female instead of the usual suspects who are mostly male. Not to say there aren’t female comedians out there who have not done it, it’s just not as frequent as it should be.

Yvonne’s first comedy special is fresh and shot in a great way. The switch up between her actual performance and her home life in Nigeria is something we really enjoyed seeing, it helps give you insight into who she is and where she comes from in a genuine and authentic way. She’s also a natural in how she comes off in her performance which makes it hard to believe that it’s her first comedy special.

No doubt it’s the start of many more for her, remember the name Yvonne Orji, a proud African lady who is quickly making her mark on the international scene, in fact she has already. And if you want more from her then do also checkout her Backstories also from HBO.

Do yourself a favour and catch her comedy special, you will more than enjoy it. If you are especially looking for an escape away from the current state of things and depressing news then this is a great way to do so. Catch it on Showmax from tomorrow (06 July 2020).

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Josh2Funny Gives An Intense Break Down Of DJ Neptune’s Global Smash Hit “Nobody”

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Nigerian comedian, Josh2Funny gives an intense break down of DJ Neptune, Joeboy & Mr Eazi’s global smash hit “Nobody”. Featuring this triple threat of talent, the atmospheric ‘NOBODY’ is produced by Neptune Records in-house producer Magic Sticks, and is the next single off Neptune’s yet to be released project tagged The Greatness II [Sounds of Neptune] after the successful release of the first single Tomorrow featuring Victor AD.

According to DJ Neptune, “When Joeboy voiced the hook on Nobody’s beat, I already knew it was hit even before delivering his verse. Immediately I buzzed Mr Eazi up and told him I wanted him on a record and He said sure to send me the beat. Eazi heard the song and didn’t estimate to jump on it and in no time his vocals were in. This is how we created Nobody.” “Nobody” is an Afrobeats-inspired take on Hip hop.

An accompanying music video for “Nobody” was released on the same day with the single and was directed by TG Omori. It’s a comedic video that pays homage to Michael Jackson‘s choreography.

“Nobody” received positive reviews from music critics and consumers. Enemanna Chidinma of “Blackcard Empire” gave “Nobody” an 8/10 rating, noting that “the length is too short for such a catchy tune”. An editor for SoundStroke gave “Nobody” an 8.0/10 rating, stating that “the bop will last for a long time”, while also noting that “the song is a scintillating major melody that resonates well”.

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[WATCH] Ajeezay Talks Hate, Lack Of Support From Colleagues In A Conversation With George Britton

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On this debut episode with George Britton, AJeeZay talks about issues surrounding Don’t Leave Me challenge and Nonfa Challenge – basically a wordplay challenge, where an individual with some friends go haywire after making funny use of words is trending on the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook platforms as social media users participate in the trend with different videos. He also hits hard at colleague comedians, including Waris, Romanus and others who rally less or no support behind his craft.

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Comedy

The Hatred Is Too Much In The Ghanaian Comedy Fraternity And Comedian Warris is Fake – Ajeezay

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Ghanaian Comedian Ajeezay popularly known as Nonfa King has gone hard against the Ghanaian comedy fraternity.

Ajeezay was a guest on Jay Foley’s Prime Morning Entertainment segment following the sudden rise of ownership patterning to the #dontleavemechallenge stated that Ghanaian comedians don’t help each other.

“There is so much hatred in the comedy fraternity” he stated.
He gave two examples; an incident with Foster Romanus and also Comedian Warris.

“I recently released a video and I asked Foster if he can host me on his show, he said he would speak to his production team and get back to me but till date, I haven’t heard from him”

He ended by saying he has played shows for free for Foster Romanus.
And about Comedian Warris, Ajeezay stated that Comedian Warris is fake because with regards to the originator of the new trend #dontleavemechallenge he was on his and asking Ghanaians to support him then all of a sudden Warris switched.

Host Jay Foley has however promised to solve the issue next Friday on the Prime Morning show.
All updates will be shared here.

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