You Don’t Have To Be Lewd To Be Funny, Says Ali Baba


Nseobong Okon-Ekong

Popular Nigerian stand-up comedian, Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome, who is better known as, Ali Baba has categorically said he does not need to spin lewd jokes to elicit laughter from his audience.

Ali Baba who is also an actor, a radio presenter and generally acknowledged for his pioneering role in shaping a comedy industry in Nigeria was reacting to a question on the increasing prevalence of vulgar jokes by his colleagues. He said, “First things first, a joke is a joke. That is, it’s anything that is supposed to cause one to laugh.”

As comedy belongs to that class of entertainment that many are comfortable to enjoy with the entire family including children, it is nothing short of an inappropriate surprise when they are made to endure vulgarity.

For many families, what they get at some of these shows is definitely not what they expect. Without any warning, children (and adults who did not bargain for those kind of jokes) are confronted with the most shocking, explicit tales. Although, it may be argued that some of these shows have given sufficient hint in the general theme of their shows with titles like ‘Live and Naked’, ‘Unscripted’, ‘Wet and Raw’, many Nigerian comedians seem to be in a competition on who will come up with the most unambiguous label for their shows. However, these explicit signs do not prepare many audience members for the astonishment that follows.

There is no doubt that Nigerian comedians have succeeded in wowing audiences with their jokes, leading to a quantum leap in the financial fortunes of many comedians, but their shows are not always so cultivated.
Threading a cautious and non-committal part, Ali Baba said, “there are different tastes in lifestyle just as in love for jokes, leading to a matter of choice. If you cannot make someone change his sexual preference, don’t you think it definitely would be equally hard if not harder to define what he finds funny?”

Continuing his submission, he argued that, “there are different pathways to achieving or eliciting laughter. What one finds funny will not even get a chuckle with another. Lewd jokes fall in this equation or divide. Personally, I don’t do dirty jokes. But I have heard and do know a lot of same. However, I decided to go on the path least followed. Bill Cosby, is still funny. He never needed to and doesn’t need to curse or do dirty jokes to get a laugh. There are people who find lewd jokes appalling while others find them appealing. Sadly, the number of lewd joke lovers is on the increase, same way the number of people who use profanity.”

Ali Baba’s theory of choice speaks to the standing ovation that frequently follows the performance of Nigerian comedians speaks to the availability of a range of jokes covering all walks of life from politics, governance, personalities and the professions.
With the brazen reference to sex and sexual activities, many audience members no longer see the performance by these comedians as purely telling the jokes.