Comedy is no joke!!! They make us laugh…sometimes they make us cry, and other times, well…Once upon a time, not so long ago, no one paid them any mind but the tables have turned and they rank up there with other A-List-ers, propounding the gospel of stand-up and sit-down comedy, smiling to the bank and building up a fan base that would make any starlet green with envy. In no particular order other than alphabetically, Konnect Africa presents its Top 20 Comedians from West Africa in 2013.
Ivory Coast or Côte d’Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, is a country in West Africa with the Capital City of Yamoussoukro. From the French speaking nation, we present:
Koro is an Actor, Comedian, Artiste and Humourist. In case you didn’t know, a ‘humourist’ is an author whose written or visual output contains and expresses humour. The humour and wit should not be confused with the comic, which is the ability to elicit laughter ~[en.wikipedia.org]…yeah, I didn’t know too! Koro who resides in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire is a country favourite with numerous skits and shows under his comedic belt.
The Black Star of Africa, Ghana boasts of a thriving entertainment industry and their Comedians are not left out. Rolling out these black Stars:
Benson Nana Yaw Oduro Boateng aka Funny Face
Multi-talented [aren’t they all] Funny Face is a Comedian-Actor-Musician who hit the big times after his performance at the Nite of 1010 Laughs in 2011. The Comedian who travels to and fro the United Kingdom for stage performances et al asserts that he finds joy in making people laugh but above all else, hunger led him into comedy!!!
His Facebook ‘About’ page decribes him an ace in the Ghanaian showbiz circles who has carved a niche for himself as one of Ghana’s foremost and exciting stage humourist, and I do not dare disagree. David is the originator and co-founder of the Corporate Comedy Series, Ghana’s first stand-up comedy road show which has been successful and well-received and is giving a stage, home and image to Ghanaian comedy according to modernghana.com. Actor and Comedian David Oscar was the first Ghanaian to perform on MNET’s Comedy Club.
Dubbed ‘Africa’s King of Comedy’ Michael began his stand-up career in Philadelphia USA in 1992, with jokes about the immigrant experience. He is a frequent guest on BET’s stand-up showcase ComicView, and has starred in HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and P. Diddy Presents the Bad Boys of Comedy, Showtime’s Shaq’s All Star Comedy Jam and more. He has also cut into the acting scene with roles in the hit comedy Next Friday, and on TV’s 30 Rock and Are We There Yet? Michael might yet be Ghana’s comedic export to the United States.
Record-setting Liberia is home to the first female African President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. From its Capital City of Monrovia with its Waterside Market, Liberia plays host to 40% of West Africa’s rain forest, and some of its finest comedians.
Abraham S. Labella aka Azonic
With over 7 years’ experience as a stand-up comedian Azonic is a proud member of the Comedy Corps. A TV Presenter who grew up in Ghana and Nigeria, Azonic attended the TMI acting school, and is resolute that his forte is acting and comedy. Surprisingly –I think- Azonic also holds an Associate Degree in Theology, is working on a Bachelor degree at the Spiritual Life Bible College and is a Pastor.
Quincy Terrence Juleh aka Quincy T
Greying Quincy T is regarded as the Godfather of Comedy in Liberia and he has been endorsed as a mentor for Liberia’s reviving Comedy corps. Quincy T has credited his rise to fame in war-time Liberia with his ability to bringhumour into the homes and lives of a citizenry ravaged by the effects of war. Asides his other pursuits, including touring in Africa and Europe, he hosts a satirical comedy show on Magic FM in Monrovia called “Political Comedy.”
Unfortunately, Mali is undergoing civil and political unrest, much to the dismay of its sister countries and as we hope for a speedy resolution to its conflict, we celebrate a rare breed; a person who strives to bring laughter even in the face of adversity.
Mareshal Zongo describes himself as a Comedian and an Artiste because he likes a taste of everything; including music and writing. Currently resident in Bamako, Mali as a result of civil unrest in his country, Mareshal ascribes his success outside Ivorien borders to the love, passion, and investment he has infused in his comedic career. Mareshal is breaking new grounds with a show called JTZ (Zongo’s Televised News) broadcast on the Africable TV channel.
Soumahoro Séa Raphaél
Apt that his stage name would be ‘Lord of laughter’ right? Ostensibly christened by a Bishop who noticed his propensity to elicit laughter from others, Soumahoro has been in the Comedy Corps since 1996. I culled the following quote in italics from basango.info because I thought it was hilarious. It was originally in French, and I have taken liberties in translation; “Yes, he is a Lord; he makes the stage his stomping ground to save the souls lost in the whirlwind of stress. On behalf of humour, he haunts the demons of sadness till laughter reigns supreme in each of his followers…” What more can I add? From Côte d’Ivoire to Mali, via Guinea, Senegal, Cameroon and France the Lord of laughter reigns supreme!
Named for the River Niger, the Republic of Niger with the capital city of Niamey is landlocked by 7 countries including West Africa’s comedy central –Nigeria. Niger which was a colony of France until August 1960 has some of the world’s largest uranium deposits.
Mohammed Mustapha aka Mamane
A postgraduate student of plant physiology [I wonder?]; Mamane is a hit in French-speaking West Africa, and to think that comedy happened to him all of its own freewill. A member of the Jamel comedy club, no topic is sacred as Mamane uses his comedy to bring to the fore crucial issues of local and international importance. Also a writer, he wrote five short films for an AIDS prevention campaign for the French Ministry of Health entitled ‘Moussa in Paris.’
The giant of Africa ‘no dey carry last!’ * Despite its seemingly numerous challenges with power, infrastructure and corruption, this country is endowed with surplus human and natural resources. It has a booming entertainment industry and the comedians are holding their own in quantity and quality. From Nigeria:
Bowoto Jephta aka Akpororo
Ever doubted that necessity is the mother of invention? Or in this case poverty is the father of talent-discovery? That would be Akpororo’s story; poverty so intense he had to continually drop out of school because his fees were unpaid. Once a choir member, and in fact an awesome singer, Akpororo gets inspiration for his jokes from the Bible and messages preached in church. Traversing continents with the best of the best, Akpororo has found his niche, and is only too glad to bid a final farewell to his deprived past. Comedy pays.
Allelluya Atunyota Akporobome aka Alibaba
The undisputed father of Nigerian comedy, Alibaba is to comedy what polish is to a dusty shoe. An entertainer, mentor, creativity-addict, Master of Ceremonies, Motivational Speaker, Photographer, Writer and highly cerebral being, he brought panache and finesse to the art of stand-up comedy and transformed it into a thriving industry. He began his professional career with corporate events, and was probably the first Nigerian comedian to earn up to a million naira in fees. With over 22 years of experience and tons of awards under his belt, I daresay Alibaba has done it all and seen it all, but who knows…
Ayo Makun aka AY
Evidently, AY who used to be a Personal Assistant to Alibaba has fully come into his own. The creative, talented, multi-award winning comedian has earned himself an everlasting place in the Comedic Hall of Fame and is established as a Compere, Radio and TV Presenter, Promoter, Producer, Actor, Director, Writer, and Event Manager. The CEO of Corporate World Entertainment which powers the rave AY Live Comedy and music concert, the AY brand also publishes Nigeria’s first comedy magazine, the AY Show TV comedy, and the Open Mic Challenge; a monthly Talent-Hunt programme. The newest spinoff of the AY brand is AY’s Crib which debuted in 2013.
Discovered by Basket Mouth, Bovi is a self-styled “Comedian of the Federal Republic,” who has declared that he was born to entertain. He took to comedy in 2008 and has since grown to prominence with the Bovi Ugboma Show, the stand-up comedy show, Bovi-Man on Fire, uproarious comedy skits and live performances. Bovi who is also an actor, a writer, and a producer draws inspiration from God, books and events around him. He is presently a brand Ambassador for Diamond Bank PLC.
Bright Okpocha aka Basketmouth
From extremely humble beginnings which are now material for his jokes, Basket Mouth is a hilarious comedian and the first Nigerian to host the prestigious comedy gig and TV show Comedy Central Presents… in Johannesburg, South Africa amongst many other firsts. His professional stand-up act officially started in 2001 when he got his big break through Ali Baba. Constantly touring continents with his act, Basket Mouth is the recipient of the National Comedy Award for Best Comedian of the year for 4 years running, creator of the internationally acclaimed comedy show, Basket Mouth Uncensored and is currently one of the brand ambassadors of one of the leading telecommunications companies in Africa, Globacom.
Francis Agoda aka I Go Dye
Some people were born with a funny bone and I Go Dye is an epitome of one such person. The Engineer who started his career as a comedian in 1991 at only 13 is an award-winning comedian and one of Nigeria’s most dynamic acts. He found fame on the stage of Opa William’s ‘Nite of a Thousand Laughs’ 2000 and has since transcended beyond that with live performances at practically every comedy show within Nigeria; performances for the nation’s leaders and tours in Europe which took him across 9 Countries and 18 cities. He allegedly sold the rights to his most recent comedy skit’ Game-Changer’ to a movie distribution company for 15 million naira; I Go Dye definitely has no plans to die with life so good!
Godwin Omoneh aka Gordons
An old hand in the entertainment industry, Gordons has a unique style of delivery, and his popular catchphrase, ‘na joke oh’ has been adopted by his colleagues. His popular comedy CD’s the ‘Comedy Clinic’ is certified to induce laughter. The musician and comedian who is a familiar face at comedy shows declares that his inspiration is from God, motivational books, and his materials are obtained from newspapers and some foreign TV shows. His big break came in 2005,when he anchored the renowned gospel music concert ‘The Experience’ organised by Pastor Paul Adefarasin with an audience of over 450,000 people.
All hail Julius ‘d’ Genius!!! Musician, performer, actor, compere, and entrepreneur; these comedians do lay claim to an astounding repertoire of talents. Julius is allegedly the originator of a new genre of music in Nigeria; ‘musicomedy’ and the creator of the ‘Crack Ya Ribs’ comedy show which was well-received and has run successfully since 2001. In 2005 by popular demand, Julius exported his show first to London, then to Atlanta, Maryland and Houston all in America. An offshoot of his first show, ‘Laff 4 Christ Sake’ was designed by Julius as an evening of gospel rhythm and clean jokes. He also authored an autobiographical book in 2013 titled ‘Jokes Apart How Did I Get Here?’ to rave reviews.
Oluwaseyitan Lawrence Aletile aka Seyi Law
Seyi Law was brought to the limelight following his success at the AY Open Mic Comedy in 2006 and started professional stand-up comedy in 2007 under the tutelage of AY Makun. In 2012,he launched his own comedy show, the ‘Must Laugh’ brand and has since gone on tour with the ‘London Must Laugh’ and ‘Manchester Must laugh’ with more cities to conquer. The fun-merchant describes comedy as salvation from his previous impecuniousness.
Named for the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north, Senegal’s boasts of many musical exports include Youssou N’Dour, Daara J, and Akon. Known for its exceptionally mild weather—more than three thousand hours of sunlight per year—Senegal hosts Gorée Island, formerly a centre of the West African slave trade and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Moussier Tombola is a comedian and musician based in France, and he has found a way -like Julius Agwu- to infuse comedy into his music. In 2011, he released his debut single “Logobitombo (Corde à sauter)” a song based on infectious dance moves which reached #5 in the official French Singles Chart. Moussier joined the comedy corps in 2005 when he was invited to be part of the Samba show after publishing his skit online. In 2010, he travelled to Europe on tour and has since continued to grow stronger and perfect his art.
Samba Sine aka Kouthia
Host of the Kouthia Show which combines news and comedy, Kouthia admits that he reads the newspapers to unearth issues that need to be addressed. Adept at mimicry, he has a huge fan base in and beyond his home country. The talent hunter believes that his talent is innate and hence, comedy is a gift from him to others. An actor, on-air personality and musician-I told you these folks were awesomely talented- Kouthia hopes to found a school of animation training, and a school to train public speakers which is lacking in Senegal. He also hopes to own a his own label.
There you have it! Do you think we missed out on any? Don’t hesitate to share your preferred comedian for the year 2013. In the meantime, do have a merry Christmas and do not forget to laugh!!!
*‘no dey carry last!’ * -Is always at the forefront.
© 2013, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.