AY doesn’t want you to take jokes too seriously.
The comic act is one of the biggest Nigerian comedians today, with sold out comedy shows, a hilarious TV series – AY’s Crib and a happy life as a husband and father.
And although his and other comedians jokes are funny, they sometimes cause a lot of controversy. AY speaks to Punch on reactions to jokes, growing up in Warri, his wife and daughter and his 100 pair of shoes.
On if it bothers him that his skits makes his entertainment friends angry: “The first time it would happen is the one that was in the news. A lot of people still get it wrong when it comes to understanding that comedians are jokers. It is quite unfortunate that people are taking comedians too seriously and taking the politicians as jokers.
There are lots of things we hear about politicians and we say they are jokes but when comedians crack jokes that are meant to be humorous, make people laugh, people take the comedians seriously. I think it is an issue of priority. Because of the way I mimic people, a lot of people before now used to tell me that the day Chris Okotie or Obahiagbon would catch me, I would be in trouble.”
On reactions to his jokes: “Guess what, Okotie invited me to his church as a sort of surprise package for the members and I cracked all the jokes, all I did was to impersonate his character. He laughed to the point that tears came out of his eyes. That is somebody with a good sense of humour. Obahiagbon came to my seat when we were flying together. The truth is that we make these people more popular by talking about them. We are social commentators.
Gone are the days when comedians would go out there and talk about how lions are chasing monkeys. Nobody is going to laugh. People need to relate to the situation around them. People compare us with our counterparts abroad, they can talk about their presidents. An Obama for example would laugh about it and when he has the opportunity to go on stage, he talks about that comedian and makes reference to what the comedian said. He might even create his own version and life goes on.”
On Basketmouth’s joke: “The joke that my colleague shared was an existing joke that had been there for a while. Forget the fact that he came out to champion it and even put it on Facebook; a joke is a joke. These are realities that people have not come to terms with. Comedians did not invent rape, so if I talk about an existing situation in the country, I am calling the attention of those in authority to the problem so that they can take care of it. As I said, comedians are social commentators.
The comical part of it, you can just act and re-enact. His tweet does not mean that he is a rapist or does anyone have a record that Basketmouth is a rapist? For a fact, he was talking about a topical situation. For instance, he said that in America, when you take a girl out on a date, day one, this is what happens. Day two, this is what happens but here in Nigeria, you spend this amount of money on day one, two, three and the girl is not forthcoming. The next thing is maybe the guy wants to go and take the girl by force. It is also a message for girls who always want to be collecting without paying. If I were a girl, I would know that if I collect on day one, I wouldn’t do so on day two, so that things would not result in violence. Why can’t people see it from that perspective rather than castigating a comedian who just cracked a joke.”
On not being the funniest comedian: “AY tells himself that he is not the funniest comedian; I don’t even need to wait for people to tell me. People are entitled to their own opinion and AY as a person knows that he is not the funniest. But there are so many things that are put together to make you a brand. As the saying goes, talent is not enough; there are so many things that make up a talent.
For example, you might be very good at Mathematics but when you want to write Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, you would also need English and some other subjects to pass the exam. When we do the general calculation and assessment, I don’t think you have any reason to say that this guy does not qualify to be where he is today.”
On the fashion item he can’t get enough of: “I love shoes. Though I have over 100 pairs, I still want to buy more and more. All I need is to find something that I like; it might be something similar to what I have in my closet but I would still buy it.”
On if he repeats the shoes: “Of course, there are shoes that match different attire and suits, so you have to repeat. But I don’t do that often so that people won’t say I am going broke. If you see me repeat a shoe and believe I don’t have any other one and the best you can do is talk about it, I see you as an arm-chair critic. If you have an opportunity to go into my closet, you will be looking for an opportunity to withdraw your statement.”