Stand-up comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka, does not need much introduction when it comes to comedy business in Nigeria. His comedy show, Laffmatazz has taken him to virtually all the South West states in the last seven years. Adeyinka speaks with SEGUN ADEBAYO on the art of making people laugh.
Today, the 7th Edition of Laffmatazz holds in Ibadan; looking back at how it all started and what you have achieved over the years, what would you attribute the success of the show to?
The show, for us, has always been about the need to continue to strive for excellence and prove the doubting Thomases wrong. When we started, many people said we would get tired because we would be frustrated by the returns from gate-takings. The general belief is that people from this side of the country don’t buy into entertainment, let alone a comedy show but we have managed to prove them wrong.
Do you really think Ibadan people can pay for entertainment shows as much as they like to watch?
People love entertainment in Ibadan and other South West states; you only have to understand how it works. Some people said we would be forced to return to Lagos State where they believe is the most fertile ground for comedy, but they did not know that we were seeds, when you bury us we germinate.
It is a known fact that entertainment shows hardly sell in Ibadan, but you have managed to break the jinx as your show has always been sold out even from day one, how did you achieve this?
First and foremost, I will say it has been God. Having said that, I have a formidable team that works round the clock to make sure things are well-structured and strictly followed to the letter. We have also been blessed with formidable partners, who see our passion and are willing to stand by us.
You must have had your fears despite the formidable team and partners, what do you think you have done differently?
We invested heavily in publicity to build the brand and we always put integrity first and made sure that we do not publicise artistes we do not intend to bring. More importantly though, it’s been God all the way because “na becos tree near tree monkey dey think say e get skills” we no get skills na God. We just thank God for the acceptance of the brand and the success we have recorded so far. The journey has just begun.
You left Lagos for Ibadan at a time when shows were selling in Lagos. That decision may have paid off for you today but it could have failed too, how do you feel?
I am humbled by what we have achieved and grateful to everybody that has been part of the story. It has not been easy but any dream that is easy is not a dream. When we started, I asked God to give me a new vision and dream to follow. I heard “start from Ibadan” and I followed and He’s been there all the way. I pray He continues to lead us through.
The choice of artistes is another aspect that has helped your show to be appreciated by the people, how do you manage to drag them to a place like Ibadan?
Over the years, I have been able to build relationships that are not necessarily money-based and I’ve been there for my friends, who also see my vision as theirs too and as such always turn up for me. That’s the best way I can explain the situation.
Each year, you come up with new sides to the show, what should the people expect this time that would give them value for their time and money?
Everything is going to be bigger and louder this year. More giveaways, more fun, more excitement, but you need to be there to feel all that we have put in this year’s edition.
Over the years, Maltina has been one of your biggest sponsors, but this year they seemed to have pulled out. Is this an indication that the show is now bigger than any brand or you couldn’t reach a common ground?
Maltina is still part of the family, but for this year, their focus is not comedy. We appreciate them for the work done in the past and welcome our new partners on board. We are not bigger than any brand o! In fact, we need more brands to support what we do.
You will agree with me that these are hard times and show organisers have felt the heat quite much. There were fears about Laffmatazz not coming to Ibadan this year, how did you pull this through?
Let me quickly add this that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Yes, it’s been hard, but I have never entertained the thought of not staging the show. If we only do things when it’s convenient, then we are not men because real men don’t quit no matter the obstacle. The show has come to stay in Ibadan.
Is it true that you almost suspended the show this year?
Never! There was never such thought in my mind. In fact, this year, we are going to four cities as against the three we did last year. So, I urge you to watch out as we unfold our plans for the year.
What has been your greatest joy about the show?
The acceptance from the fans and the fact that we have paved the way for other show promoters and comedians to believe that events of this nature can sell in Ibadan and other places in the South West. There may be teething problems, but we are getting there now and people can see our success story over the years.
This year, you have about 25 artistes that will take to the stage, paying them must have stretched your account. What message are you trying to send across with this?
The message we are putting out is simple and understandable. It is about the fact that we are still the biggest comedy convergence in the south west of Nigeria and that customer satisfaction drives us to always give our best.