Alibaba took us through his formative years as a comedian to where he stands today. He also opened up his comedy factory, a corner in his house where his materials where generated.
“It happened by accident. I started as a heckler. So I’d sit in the show, as the event is going on, I just kept heckling whoever was on stage. I could even heckle people in the audience. That’s how I found myself becoming a comedian. And gradually it became clear that I needed to do better than just telling jokes.”
Alibaba who studied at Bendel State University, where he started performing stand-up comedy was able to use his education as a platform for his career path. He said;
“…my first encounter was Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare. And that just scratched the surface. Because when I finally got wind, when I held onto a book, and it was Twelfth Night, I was sold out. Romeo and Juliet followed, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream…I knew that there was a better way of expressing yourself with the same language that we call English than the ones that were just spoken. So I had to learn how to use the words differently and better. That just made my performances different. It made people see that the way this guy is performing, he has something. So that when I am telling a joke I lay it out properly, I set up the punch line, in a way that will set you thinking.”
Alibaba’s introduction to Shakespeare led him to use other books as inspiration for his comedy. In the show, he leads CNN to a bookstall in the middle of a bustling Lagos street. There, he explains how his choice of literature, poetry, Reader’s Digest and TIME magazine provides him with ideas for political jokes. Later in the programme, Alibaba introduces viewers to his home library, which he calls ‘the jokes factory’. His collection of Reader’s Digest magazines has led him to understanding human psyche, with snippets of jokes in every edition.
It’s been more than twenty years since Alibaba entered the Nigerian comedy business, but he’s still optimistic about its future: “A lot of people see stand-up comedy now and say we have achieved greatness, but we’re still working up to it. We have not. We are growing, and we will get there.”
African Voices’ featuring Alibaba aired on Friday, 6 March at 0930, repeat will air at the following times:
- Saturday 7 March at 1630
- Sunday 8 March at 0430, 1230 and 1930
- Monday 9 March at 0330, 1130 and 1830
- Tuesday 10 March at 0630
- Wednesday 11 March at 1030
- Tune in to CNN on DStv channel 401.
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