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Nigeria’s comedy business rakes in N50bn yearly, say analysts


Nigeria’s comedy business rakes in N50bn yearly, say analysts


Basket Mouth


Nigeria’s comedy business is looming larger, acquiring a rising profile with a financial outlay valued at several billions of naira, according to players in the industry and analysts who have tried to value the sector.

Although the entertainment industry is overshadowed by the music and movie sectors, stakeholders say the business could be raking in over N50 billion into the nation’s economy annually.

“Nigeria’s comedy business is worth over N50 billion annually,” says a top industry player, who pleaded for anonymity.

The estimate was corroborated by industry players and analysts who say, however, that it is inclusive of other logistics that come with holding a comedy show, such as renting halls and equipment, and general event planning.

BusinessDay investigation shows that a once relegated industry has become a money spinning craft, creating jobs for several hundred people annually, thus reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.

Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere, otherwise known by his stage name, ‘Ali Baba,’ who is the highest paid comedian in Nigeria, told BusinessDay in a previous interview that the comedy industry has come of age.

According to Ali Baba, it is a funny business that has become very big and a money spinner today that is contributing substantially to the economy, besides, providing employment to our youth.

“Comedy has come to stay. We have gradually come from being the last on the list in the entertainment industry, to being the first. Sometimes when events are being planned, we come first on the list.

“Today, we have become either the third most recognised art in the entertainment industry, after actors and musicians.”

Ali Baba further said he was paid N50 for his first ever show in 1988, at the pavilion of the then Bendel State University, Ekpoma, but today, he is believed to be charging about N5 million per event, as compere and to make people laugh.

Ali Baba is also believed to have taken the industry to greater heights when in 1988 he erected three billboards with the message: ‘Ali Baba– Being Funny is Serious Business,’ in strategic locations on Victoria Island, paying N150, 000 for each billboard per year.

According to him, he had the big break in his career with the launch of Satzenbrau beer in Nigeria by Guinness, where he got N1.5million for a nationwide tour.

Omobaba, another established comedian, said he started his career with a one-man act drama, for which he was paid N500 and later N1, 000 in 1999. Today, he said he charges more than N1, 000, 000 per appearance, depending on the nature of the show.

“There were times I worked without getting paid as an upcoming stand-up comedian. The first stand-up I did, I was paid N10,000 for a Friday show. It was a weekly show. For me, it was not about the money but the passion I had for the job,” he said.

Interestingly, the comedians are also beginning to diversify in a bid to expand their sources of income and maximise the use of their talents.

Recently, Ayo Makun, popularly known by his stage name, AY was said to have made over N135 million through his comical film, ‘30 Days in Atlanta.’ AY, who is alleged to charge an average of N2 million per event, is said to be making about N180 million from his annual comedy show, ‘A.Y Live’.




Francis Agoda, otherwise called “I Go Dye” has also diversified into construction, with his newly established Revamp Construction Company, (RCC) which is into real estate and road construction. Those familiar with the comedy industry say he may be worth more than N3billion.

Opportunities in the comedy industry are said to be expanding each year, contributing to its fast growth. Some of the opportunities which have opened up in the industry for comedians include; brand endorsement contracts, and organisation of independent comedy shows by comedians, at home and abroad.

For example, in the past six years, comedian, Basketmouth has been holding a comedy show, ‘Basketmouth Uncensored’ in the UK, South Africa, and the United States of America, with tickets usually sold out. Basketmouth is also said to earn millions of naira from brand endorsement deals from Amstel Malta, and Globacom Ltd.

Inside sources say he may be raking in as much as N300 million annually. He has also participated actively in the political campaign trail of top political contenders, where he is said to be making millions.

However, analysts said the current growth in the comedy industry could have been higher if there had been structures put in place to support the growth of the sector.

Ayeni Adekunle, chief executive officer, Black House Media, said an industry that is growing needs to be properly structured. According to Adekunle, the current growth is based on the individual efforts of the comedians.

“The comedians are trying individually. “There is no fabric that ties them together. The structure to make the industry grow or measure the current growth is not there,” he explained.

He further explained that like Nollywood and the music industry, comedy lacks the required infrastructure for growth.

“An industry like comedy needs infrastructure like performance platforms, training platforms, and channels to distribute their contents. It lacks the basic infrastructure for talents to be nurtured, for products to be consistently created and for products to be properly distributed.

“If the industry is properly structured, they will be getting money from their craft, instead of diversifying into other businesses. They will not have to be waiting for a show before they can perform.

“ There should be a venue where people can go at anytime to see them perform. A comedian abroad is not considered successful until he has performed on a certain stage, but that is not the case here.”

However, MC Abbey, a comedian who said he was paid N8,000 for his first stage appearance in 2002, but currently makes as much as N500, 000 per event, said he sees an industry that will expand in the next five years.

“In five years from now, I see the industry expanding and diversifying into other areas of comedy, not just stand-up. I also see structures coming into the industry and the increase of respect and acceptability of the trade,” he said.


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