Allure interview: Advice to my younger self – Comedian Ajebo
Laughter they say is medicine to the soul and while we have seen the administrators of this medicine do it effortlessly, there’s work beneath all the laughter creation, there’s an industry of laughter creators and there are challenges this industry faces.
Speaking to Vanguard Allure, Emeka Ehem Nehemiah, the founder of ‘House of Ajebo’ and brain behind ‘Ajebo Unleashed’ talked about these challenges, his journey in the industry and how he’s creating a unique brand of comedy to further ease the strain placed on humanity.
How did you come into the business of comedy?
It’s all I ever wanted to do from my childhood days but professionally I started to hit the stage in 2005-2006 and I hit the mainstream when I won the AY open Mic in 2009.
What were the challenges at the beginning of your career?
People were not willing to pay. We did it for the passion and I had family support. This support earned me the name AJEBO. And also the Government needs to fund the industry like the film industry. Create a good atmosphere for entertainment to thrive all over Nigeria.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Funding for shows, the porous nature of the online market, my streaming revenues are not as impressive, considering the massive hype around my comic brand.
Your comedy is different from others, why did you pick such a form of comedy?
Because we are all wired differently. I like to be unique. While studying mass communication at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I decided one day I’ll crack jokes with animations and that was the beginning of what we have now.
Considering the time you’ve spent in this comedy business, what are some of the things you’ve learned?
In my time in this industry, I’ve learned that while It’s important to know how “Show” works but it’s more important to understand the Business part of the show. I’ve also learned that talent is not enough. You are a brand, you need to understand and work, talk and act like one. So with this industry, you have to have to the whole package or at least start working to have the whole package.
What would you do differently if you have to start all over again?
Truth is, I can do it all over again I would change nothing. I feel fulfilled. I have learned from life’s experience, I celebrate my present because I know all I’ve been through brought me here and I’m at peace knowing the future is even brighter.
How well would you say the Nigerian comedy industry has grown?
It has grown immensely to be honest. More comedians have joined, young ones now have dreams of taking up a career in this profession which was not so much the cashback then. In the past, people didn’t think it was possible to be rich as a comedian but we have evolved, the story has changed and there is even more diversification as we now have online comedians. So I think it has grown greatly with even more possibilities to be better.
What do you think the Nigerian comedy industry is not doing right that should be worked on?
They’re a lot of things we’re not doing right but I’ll mention but a few and they include Copyright laws that protects the intellectual properties of creatives, more venues to enable us plan shows effectively without worrying about if the available ones are already booked for a show and finally there should be provision of a regulatory body to oversee the happenings of the industry and create a structure for a better future.
From the look of the comedy industry, female comedians are not so common in Nigeria and the ones that are popular don’t even thrive as the men. why do you think that is?
I don’t agree so, Helen Paul is doing better than a lot of men. Whether male or female, it’s the same if you don’t reinvent yourself, create new materials and brand yourself, you won’t last. So therein lies the way to retain your presence in the industry, reinvent yourself and give your fans something to look forward to and despite your gender, you’ll thrive.
Ajebo Unleashed 6.0 is coming up, what’s that about?
This is my annual Comedy live show. It’s the 6th edition happening live at Eko convention center, Eko Hotel and suits. The theme is “What Women Want” it’s going to be an evening of fun. Laughter and more laughter
How is it different from other comedy shows?
It’s different o… or better put, it is unique. It is the official Lagos comedy party. We have a blend of stand up comedy and animations in an ambiance that says fun all the way and with how Nigeria and Lagos especially can be, we need all the fun we can get and Ajebo Unleashed is that show.
What has been the most memorable feedback you’ve received about House of Ajebo?
The skits grow on people like music. It’s being replayed, saved and I can see the happiness when people enjoy it. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback but those reactions show the work is worth the effort. It is growing on people so strong that it’s a movement. And it’s not just in Nigeria, We are global.
Who are some of the people that inspire you in and out of your industry?
A lot of them but I’ll mention a few. One of the international personalities that inspire me is Kevin Hart and that’s majorly because of hardworking he is and that’s inspiring. Ay has proved that we can push boundaries, Basket mouth has taken Nigerian comedy to international standards, Bovi’s creativity never ceases to amaze me. These men inspire me
What keeps you motivated to create more content?
I’m motivated by life and the experience it presents in every event, there’s usually always something to take out or a silver lining. So life and. Everything around me basically.
What’s the greatest assumption you think people have about comedy as a profession?
That one eh (laugh) Some people will say “is it not just to talk” while some people assume it’s easy to make people laugh but the truth is they’re both false, it’s not just talking and it’s not easy to make people laugh o, especially Nigerians.
If you have to advise your younger self, what are you going to tell him?
If I have the opportunity to advise my younger self, I’ll him “Be yourself and trust the process”.
What’s the future like for House of Ajebo?
We are going global. We are going into kiddies animated series, catering for that market and hoping to dominate it.