Taking Comedy as Serious Business


Nseobong Okon-Ekong

As the entertainment industry continues to position itself as a major contributor to the Nigerian economy, comedians are also showcasing their worth in an industry that is primarily dominated by music and movies.

The business of laughter may come off to many as easy peas, going by the avalanche of comedy skits circulating in the digital space. Every day, hundreds of comedy videos are uploaded on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube by individuals whose names do not ring a bell in the mainstream media. Yet, in their own creative way, these individuals are earning fame more than the prominent ones. Someone like comedienne Princess whose social media account was hacked had to pay to acquire social media skills in order to avoid redundancy in an industry that brought her fame.

Yet, the struggle to catch up with social media is just one of the few problems plaguing the industry. At least, other related issues were discussed at the recently held Eko Comedy Festival.

A first of its kind, the two-day event aimed at rebranding comedy as a serious business for future generation. To achieve this goal, the convener, Tunde Adewale, Tee A pooled a host of professionals from comedy, corporate and the media sector to discuss the theme ‘Maximising Nigerian Comedy for Economic Development’. The festival kicked off with a workshop where aspiring comedians were privileged to learn at the feet of professionals like Basorge Tariah Jnr, Ayeni Adekunle, Bisi Olatilo and Teju Babyface.

The second day saw the likes of the CEO of X3M Group, Steve Babaeko; and Yinka Adebayo of Media Reach OMD analysing the business side of comedy to a captive audience at the Muson Centre, Onikan-Lagos.

In his presentation, Babaeko gave insight to the value chain available to comedians as well as advising them on how to tap into the vast potentials available on the digital platform. Adebayo however focused on creating marketable content. His analytics revolved on how comedians can sell their content to advertisers and how to maximise their reach. During the question and answer segment of this panel moderated by film director Chris Ihidero, other ethical and legal issues were analysed.

But it didn’t end there, the second session moderated by Lepacious Bose which had Bunmi Davies, Koffi Idowu and Owen Gee tackled the issues and prospects of stand-up comedy while the last session moderated by Alariwo dealt more on comedy films. The panelists included Kene Mkparu, Bovi, Hafiz ‘Saka’ Oyetoro, Mena Ajakpovi and Yomi Badejo-Okusanya. The conference ended in a concert where aspiring comedians had the opportunity to showcase their skills.

The convener Tee-A was highly applauded by his colleagues for organising the conference. Having been in the business for a long while, Tee-A said he deemed it fit to have an event where comedians can converge and have a healthy discussion on moving their industry forward.