‘Bobagunwa of Comedy’ , Lafup, in this interview with ROTIMI IGE, talks about his new project, a comedy circus event which he says will change entertainment landscape in Lagos and Nigeria. He also gave hints on how comedians can take their crafts to enviable standards. Excerpts
You have a new project, The circus, tell us about it?
It’s the new comedy show I produce in Lagos. Last year it took Lagos by surprise with its fresh nature and the way it was creatively themed. For me, mine is a comedy theatre and I have created a platform that can creatively own that experience where true and high-comedy fans can enjoy what they seldom see around in Lagos.
What inspired this idea/event?
With my strong theatre background and working with top local and international brands when it comes to experiential marketing and premium brand activations, it was easier to spot the pulse of the industry and create an out of the box kind of comedy show, in this case, ‘LAFUP THE CIRCUS’. I’ve always loved the circus and I honestly thinks it’s time we have such in Nigeria. You will agree with me that with over 13 years of producing comedy and putting Ibadan rating tops in the scheme of things in the comedy circuit, we should go less on it.
As a comedian/compere, rate the industry at the moment.
The industry is changing, although one cannot overlook the invasion of the ‘toms, dicks and harries’. Structure is gradually put in place and those who are thorough performers and true live comedy performers are stepping up. At least, we now that a comedy can hold his or her audience with or without musical artistes. We are not there yet, but with our history and feats thus far, there are no limits.
Critics say comedy events are becoming boring as mostly same acts/musicians are being rotated. Your take and solutions?
It’s the bandwagon effect! There is basically only one template everyone is employing. We as comedians have, by ourselves, reduced comedy to a side attraction as against the main and complete art that it is. As a comedy researcher, I have always maintained that comedy is now being used as the means to an end majorly instead of the end in itself. There is a place for comedy art and as its custodian, we owe it to the art to place it where it belongs always. The critics are right and that is why Lafup The Circus is different.
The solution is to be true to our art and help more comics grow by giving them more platforms to cut across to the comedy lovers, encourage and create a forum where stand up comedy writers are encouraged and also create improve group that can groom upcoming comedian through the process of writing, tailoring and eventually performing that very comedy routine.
A popular comedian once claimed that comedians are more united than musicians and that you support one another for free. Is this true and how has this helped the industry?
Technically, it has help more comedy platforms to grow but then, its also the same reason why the number of musical artistes are pushing the fat envelopes and are incomparable to that of the comedians. We help ourselves and I say that is a major strength of the Nigerian comedy industry as against any other sector in the performing sector of the creative industry.
You have a large fan base in Ibadan despite having moved to Lagos. How was this made possible?
I have not moved to Lagos, I have only expanded to Lagos. Clearly Lagos is the hub and the commercial centre for entertainment business in Africa; if you dint have a representation here, you are not likely to top your game. I work more with brands and they need me in Lagos so often hence that notion. I still produce two shows in Ibadan every year in March and December 26th. I am still with my base, with my fans everywhere in any part of the world. I just need to keep up with their pace and keep working hard for them.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I love to cook! It’s the first things after comedy and writing.
Is comedy about being funny?
Primarily yes! But everything has a process and so does comedy and these process are not always funny. If you asked about the business, that another story entirely.
What strategies would you advise upcoming comedians to employ in order to break into the mainstream of major acts/shows?
Join a comedy group, its how most music stars became lone stars. You are in the choir first then you start taking solos…It is the same process for comedy. The integral part of the game is writing, creating the jokes. If you don’t learn that as a young comedian, you will only settle for stealing people’s jokes as we often see these days. Work hard, read wide, get a mentor and most importantly, the only way to learn to swim is to get into the water.
What other projects are you involved in?
For now, all focus is on ‘The Circus’ for August and Lafup Live ‘Get Marked’ on Boxing Day.
Your most valuable bodily possession?
My mind, the landlord on my ingenuity.
Craziest thing you have ever done?
I’m not really crazy…I’m mad. I went to MC a wedding reception in Lagos on the same day of my show, LAFUPLIVE 2009. With the amount they offered, I just couldn’t make at my show that year in Ibadan. Three years after, we still couldn’t.