Speaking about the business of comedy, creating and writing jokes for comedy, with Daily Times’ Mutiat Alli this week, is popular comedian, LAFUP. Born Oluwasegun Ogundipe but better known as LAFUP, he is one of the leading and most versatile comedians in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He began his comedy career in the ancient city of Ibadan, Southern Nigeria and is today married to his university girlfriend whom he proposed to during one of his major shows in Ibadan. LAFUP is surely a game changer when it comes to the comedy business, having been mentored by some of the best hands in the industry.
LAFUP in addition to full time comedy and compering, he also owns a company that majors in the supplies of security wristbands for shows, events, fun parks and hospitals. He also breeds dogs!. In this chat, LAFUP further advises upcoming comedians and speaks on the need for comedians to have a united front.
As a comedian/compere, how will you rate the industry at the moment?
The industry is changing, although one cannot overlook the invasion of the “toms, dicks and harries”. Structure is gradually put in place and those who are thorough performers and true live comedy performers are stepping up. At least, we now know that comedy can hold his or her audience with or without musical artistes. We are not there yet, but with our history and feats thus far, there are no limits.
Critics say comedy events are becoming boring as mostly same acts/musicians are being rotated. Your take and solutions?
It’s the bandwagon effect! There is basically only one template everyone is employing. We comedians have by ourselves reduced comedy to a side attraction as against the main and complete art that it is. As a comedy researcher, I have always maintained that comedy is now being used as the means to an end majorly instead of the end in itself. There is a place for comedy art as at its custodian we owe it to the art to place it where it belongs always. The critics are right and that is why my show Lafup The Circus is different. The solution is to be true to our art and help more comics grow by giving them more platforms to cut across to the comedy lovers, encourage and create a forum where stand-up comedy writers are encouraged and also create improve group that can groom upcoming comedian through the process of writing, tailoring and eventually performing that very comedy routine.
A popular comedian once claimed that comedians are more united than musicians and that you support one another for free. Is this true and how has this helped the industry?
Technically it has help more comedy platforms to grow but then, it’s also the same reason why the number of musical artistes pushing the fat envelopes and incomparable to that of the comedians. We help ourselves and I tell, that is a major strength of the Nigerian comedy industry as against any other sector in the performing sector of the creative industry.
You have a large fan base in Ibadan despite having moved to Lagos. How was that made possible?
I have not moved to Lagos, I have only expanded to Lagos. Clearly Lagos is the hub and the commercial centre for entertainment business in Africa, if you don’t have a representation here, you are not likely to top your game. I work more with brands and they need me in Lagos so often hence that notion. I still produce two shows in Ibadan every year: March and December 26th. I am so with my base, and I am so with my fans everywhere in any part of the world. I just need to keep up with their pace and keep working hard for them.
What is that one thing a lot of people don’t know about you?
I love to cook! It’s the first thing after comedy and writing.
Is comedy about being funny?
Primary yes! But everything has a process and so does comedy and these process my brother, are not always funny. If you asked about the business, that another story entirely.
What strategies would you advise upcoming comedians to employ in order to break into the mainstream?
Join a comedy group, it’s how most music stars became lone stars. You are in the choir first then you start taking solos…same process for comedy. The integral part of the game is writing, creating the jokes. If you don’t learn that as a young comedian, you will only settle for stealing people’s jokes as we often see these days. Work hard, read wide, get a mentor and most importantly, the only way to learn to swim is to get into the water.
What is your most valuable bodily possession?
My mind, the landlord of my ingenuity.
Craziest thing you have ever done?
I’m not really crazy…I’m mad. I went to MC a wedding reception in Lagos on the same day of my show, LAFUPLIVE 2009. The amount they offered, was what I just couldn’t make at my show that year in Ibadan… 3 years after, we still couldn’t.