African Entertainment: I have no beef with AY – Bovi, Nigerian Comedian
Top humourist, Bovi Ugboma, staged the third edition of his annual show, Bovi Man on Fire yesterday after a 3-year-hiatus. LANRE ODUKOYA speaks to him before the one-man comedy concert.
What influenced the name “Man on Fire”?
We picked Man on Fire because we were looking for a moniker that would capture the essence of what the show is about. It’s a one-man stand-up comedy show which means it features me as a man on fire and like I said, emphasis is put on the material that I would be bringing to the stage like hot topics, issues and of course funny jokes. So, it’s just Man on Fire from a comedian.
Why don’t you feature other industry colleagues in your show?
It’s because it’s Bovi Man on Fire not Bovi Men on Fire. When we grow in the industry, we all choose different paths, I want to be an entertainer not a promoter, so there are comedy franchises that feature people but ideally what should be obtained is that the show has my name. I should be the person doing the show.
You have been listed as one of the most successful comedians in the world, what has been your strategy through the years?
I think my strategy has been to try to remain fresh. I tell the same jokes at several events but I try to tell them in different ways, I also try to model them around the events going on at that particular time, I became professional in 2008 as a stand-up comedian and then people started saying I needed to do my own show and I said I wasn’t going to do that until I can stand alone and the only thing that can attract people when you’re standing alone is taking time to build yourself and between 2008 and 2013 , I did my best to always write new jokes for every show and so that’s how I worked on myself.
Are there any musical performances that day?
As regards to the artistes performing that day, we have two of them but we are keeping it under wraps bit I can tell you that they are Nigerian artistes, one male, one female, there might be more but we don’t want to lose the essence of what the show stands for, it’s a comedy show and we want to make sure people come to watch comedy, It’s because Nigerian audience is..that’s why we are having the two or three musical acts so we want to grow to the point of people coming to watch comedy alone and go home satisfied, It’s a logistical nightmare when you try to have music and comedy together but ideally they should run parallel lines because when you choose to do comedy and music together. It’s a different market all-together and that’s not my market.
Why did you choose Flytime entertainment as your promoter again?
We see Flytime entertainment as the biggest company in promoting events and like I said earlier, I’m not a promoter so this is not my show as a business man or promoter. It’s my show as a brand but the people taking the entire risk is Flytime entertainment and I’ll use this opportunity to advise other promoters out there to take on comedians they believe they can work well with, to my better understanding. I think Olamide’s concert is being run by a promoter, so all he has to do is show and thrill the crowd. And so what that means is we the artistes focus on the artistic side and the promoters focus on the business side of the deal.
Why are there so many camps in the comedy industry nowadays?
I don’t know about camps because I have a cordial relationship with every comedian in the industry and I know that comedians come for shows that Basketmouth organises like Ogus baba, Buchi and others….
Will we ever see you, Basketmouth and AY do a show together?
It depends, if the show says so, I do not come to shows to entertain comedians; I come to entertain the audience. Comedy is business; it’s not a family affair because almost every comedian takes care of themselves and their family through comedy.
You were Ayo Makun’s best man at his wedding, but it’s strange you’d rather do shows with Basketmouth…
Yes, it’s correct I was his best man and for your information, we are not enemies. We are colleagues in the industry and I gravitate only towards someone whose style of artistry is the closest to mine. That doesn’t mean a rancour.
Don’t you think that the break you took for three years to tour the world with your show could affect the loyalty you enjoy from the Nigerian fans?
For the time lapse, we’re going to go global. So we want to have a fan base across everywhere Nigerians are and Africans in general love what we do, so I said instead of doing it every year in Nigeria, we would do it across the world because as time goes on, we want to fill stadiums and be able to entertain people of different races. I did a show in Australia during those years and I had the biggest foreign audience there.
You posted a picture on Instagram of you, Basketmouth and A.Y and after a few minutes, it was deleted…
I usually remove pictures after they’ve served their usefulness, there are some pictures you post without really checking well and I’ll take it down. Although, I’m not really sure of the picture you’re talking about because I took a lot of pictures down today.
There is a fellow comedian that does shows overseas and in Nigeria without spacing it as long as you do, would it exhaust you if you do the same?
It depends on the time table. And for me, I like to take things in my stride and if somebody can do three shows round the world in a year, that doesn’t mean I have that strength. So, what’s important is that we are entertaining our audience and we are staying true to the art form which is stand-up comedy. So, it’s not easy and our industry is still growing, we don’t have our writers yet because in Hollywood, they have writers who cook up ideas for them, but here we have more comedians than writers because writers are practically nonexistent here. And so everyone is hustling to their work themselves so that’s why I didn’t do 2015 and 2016. Although I was ready to do last year, it wasn’t really a good year for business so that’s why we decided to do it this year.
Would you be open to someone writing a joke for you to perform?
It depends on if I like the joke and how much I’ll pay for the joke because I would like to pay well, but luckily for me, I’m a writer so it’s hard for me to want to take a joke from someone unless we have a contract because the joke may be similar to something I have. And if I tell the joke, you could say it’s your joke and we would both have a justified case.
Would you say that you’re trying to prove a point on how a comedy show should be done in Nigeria by staging a 100percent one-man show?
I wouldn’t say I’m trying to prove a point but I’m not the first person to do a one- man show. We have Basketmouth with his ‘Uncensored’ a few years back and the first one-man show I saw was by Tee A, ‘Live and Naked’. So, there are some comedians who have given it a shot so I’m just continuing the worldwide tradition.
As a comedian where do you draw the line on the kind of jokes you tell?
It depends on the joke completely. If I want to joke about a crippled person, I would make sure the person is in the audience and I would tell it in a way that will make the person look good not ridiculed because people tend to think comedy is about ridicule. So, I can tell a joke as long as I’m not ridiculing the situation or the character involved.