A Comedian has many platforms for expressing the talents of making people laugh. It could be on stage as an actor in a play with other actors. The comedian can also be on television or radio. In the instances where the act is professed by writing they can be called humorists and if they toe the line of drawing they are cartoonists. The comedian who performs live is called the stand up comedian. These are those comedians who hug the microphone alone and perform to an audience using materials they expect to provoke laughter in the audience. These lot bank on their abilities alone. If they are funny... good. Otherwise, they are to blame too.
The stand up comedian is a master of his success. He is so called because from the days of old, the act is one where the performer is expected to use every trick in the book to create funny stories, or like we say in Nigeria, gists or faboo(fable). The extent to which the stories climb on the laughter meter or swing on the haha pendulum rests fully on the stand up comedian. This is no mean task. It's not a one exam test. It's a continuous assessment act. You are either good all through the act or lose vital laugh points. Which in the end determine if your performance was excellently brilliant, good, just ok or poor.
In the slave trade era, slaves who had oratory potentials, got their padlocks removed to allow them STAND UP and regal their masters with stories of the homes they were never to return to. Those with very good stories earned the privilege of working without the padlocks. As the stories went, those whose stand up performances got better with their every performance were allowed to permanently stop wearing padlocks. There were other stories of how their ability to stand up for themselves as slaves also paved the way for the basic freedom movement back then.
What I am rambling about is that no one will make your act better than you can make it. The best comedians can get on stage with the best materials, but if the delivery, audience reading & response, punchline timing, subject matter, use of stage, body language, voice control, choice of words, deliberate pauses and most importantly, the theme of the event.
For fear of making this piece sound too academic, let me just let it be reserved for the curriculum of stand comedy as a course in departments of mass communication and theatre arts some chosen universities in Nigeria... As planned.
So, from the ingredients listed in the paragraph before the last, you will agree that being a stand up comedian is not as easy as it seems. That is not to say some wannabes can not pull it off like they were born with it. Just like some people, like James Last, have talents of replicating other people's original works as if they created it. Some have been known to do it better than the original owner kpakpa. If you hear some bands' rendition of certain hit songs by Nigerian artistes, and do not know the original artistes that owned the song, you will not be the only that ends up feeling the real artistes copied from the live band.
Simply put, some stand up comedians are creatively original while some are creative with the original materials of the works of the original comedian. While one is brainstorming to create something funny, one waits to take that funny thing and make it funnier. Ones talent is in creating and the other is in remixing. And that is not to take away from the creative ability of the one remixing. It's like one American songwriter said... "I have no issues with the popularity of singers who perform songs that I wrote. The more popular they get the more records they sell. Eventually it translates to more royalties. Albeit that the singer may win all the accolades, the originality of the song is not in question. In fact the singer is more or less the chief marketing officer of the song"
That said, the owner of an act is the one who knows what the act means to his or her career as an artiste and as such should do everything to keep improving it and pushing the envelope. The chief brand manager at best. Because no matter what the image maker does, if the act is not in sync with he brand mechanism, projection and ultimate goal, it will all come to nought. We are no strangers to many acts who had because of their lifestyle and act trending on different timelines from the brand the public had been sold initially in their careers... ran aground. Sometimes because of a mistake on the part of an artiste, the Image makers, manager, press and other instances.
Not to apportion blames, it may not be mainly the problem of the artiste. Plainly put, several factors may be responsible for a situation that makes an artiste look bad. However, one I have come to know in my line of work and from what I have observed around me, is that refusing to stand up for oneself has been the greatest undoing of many artistes. People are quick to tell an artiste to not respond to unhealthy things written about them in the press. I agree to an extent and that should not now become a general standard. The issues of being misquoted and not responding only just makes the wrong impression take on flesh.
Some of those who say "say nothing" may be the same people who are asking another artiste "why did you not say anything at that time, you should have said something. You left it and let it get out of hand."
Does that not remind you of that life lesson song, KETE KETE, by the legend, Evangelist EBENEZER OBEY? Where a man and his son were going on a long journey and he had packed all the luggage for the trip on the donkey. He and his son got on the donkey and set out. "World people" saw them on the donkey and wondered what wickedness would make a man, his son get on a donkey at the same time... If its not that they wanted to kill it. Okay... Change of plans. The man rode on the donkey and he was a father without love and sympathy, to allow his son walk while he rode on the donkey. In another situation, he was called a fool to walk on foot while his son rode on the donkey. To satisfy all he thought it would pacify all if he and his son walked while the donkey rode empty. How wrong he was. Some "world people" saw the father and son going along on foot while the donkey rode empty as the height of stupidity. The lesson the story in the song thought was, you can not pleas everyone.
How I miss songs with life lessons... Anyway, that's a matter for another day.
Now to this issue I am really about. People say all sorts about me. Some even beef me without knowing me. Sadly, by the time they get to know me, they would have said so many unhealthy things that they just decide to not apologise and continue believing they were right. I know of cases where some people were swearing by whatever was dear to them just to prove some falsehood they heard. Only to be proved wrong but just too proud to apologise for the falsehood they had spread. I usually do not confront such people back then. And I was wrong not to. Because those same people are quick to say, "it was in so so and so paper, did you hear him deny it?" others say, in defence of their idle talk, "I know him very well."
What I dont understand is when people say don't respond or say anything in defence of yourself, but those same people will not be at the places where untrue stories are discussed as facts. I say this because one journalist once started an interview with "how true is it that you have been overthrown as the king of comedy?" I didn't know how to start my response so I asked him "what is your yardstick for measuring who is the king of comedy?" and he replied, several people wrote about it. So I said, it would be better to ask those reporters what the requirements were for ascension to that throne. End of interview. Next time I saw his write up, it was "ALI BABA TRIES TO REGAIN HIS CROWN". I ran into the reporter again last month and he wanted an interview on my radio show, my blog, my new house, my plans... So I said you are yet to give me the yardstick for measuring up to others so I can make my plans.
So if I may ask, just by chance you know, what is the yardstick?
Still on people's perception and how I have had to stand up for my self. At one event, I wore a gold crested blazer, blue jeans and black suede. My whole ensemble was not upto 200k... But it was reported that I was overdressed. Yet someone next to me wore an RR jeans of 200k. Only the jeans. Don't ask because I have it and I know how much it sells. And the online hawks jumped on it. 'he is a show off' 'who is he trying to impress?" blah blah blah...
To be honest, not all falsehood should be responded to. But trust me, when it has to do with credibility, my family, my career and anything that people can make judgements using such blatant lies as a basis, I have a right to say that one na lie. HABA
I am a stand up comedian, but jokes apart, I should be able to stand up for myself na... Shuooo!