‘After Next Naija Comedy Star, real competition has started for me’
While he appears to be among the reigning comedy stars in the industry, Bayelsa-born comedian Gift Loveday Igbomgbo, popularly known as Mc Aproko, who was recently crowned Next Naija Comedy Star winner, was just a good comedian doing his thing. But the maiden edition of Next Naija Comedy Star saw him win the star prize of N5 million and a GAC SUV.
The show, which ran for a month and held at The Grandeur, Lekki, Lagos, was organised by Ayo Makun (AY) and supported by Ikleads, Luckybay homes, The Grandeur place, Kairos hub, Hiptv, Elin group, Elin air and Peak Milk, with comedians Ali Baba, I go dye and MC Shakara as judges.
Speaking with The Guardian at the grand prize presentation, excited MC Aproko said, “giving a young comedian a car of this value with a full tank of fuel and N5million is something that has never been done in the industry. The competition was very tough; the judges always came up with different tasks that must be accomplished. There was no time to sit and create materials, but we stayed strong and kept our sanity and it all came out fine at the end. In a way, the rigorous nature of it helped our creativity and I hope to be put under such kind of pressure again. I learnt originality, creativity, patience, love and above all, I learnt humility.”
The young comedian continued: “Before the competition, I was just another good comedian, but after the competition, I can beat my chest that I am Aproko. I started comedy in 2007, but I can say that I am just starting now.”
On the debate that he was already a made comedian before the show, he said, “I wish those who said I was already a made comedian before the competition will come and see how it was for me. I was more on the hot seat than anyone among all the contestants because, Alibaba wasn’t laughing at all whenever I performed, despite the fact that he knew me before the competition. I have been doing comedy for a while, but I was not amongst the A-list.”
On what next for him, he said, “after winning, now, the real competition has started; the other one was just a rehearsal and now, I have to work double of what I did at the competition to keep the people who believed in me entertained. I just want to thank bros AY because no one has ever done this in the comedy industry; I also appreciate all the sponsors.”
Speaking to The Guardian, comedian AY said, “The competition ran for about a month. It was beyond doing Stand-up comedy; it was quite engaging in the aspect of testing their other creativity strength. It was more of the Big Brother concept where you have contestants in the house doing various things. Some who couldn’t win the grand prize won other prizes while staying in the house.
“Anybody of the contestants who came on stage to do a joke that has been heard by any of the judges automatically were taken out. It was very challenging for them, but it’s something that stood most of them out and it’s something that will also take them places.”
He said Next Naija Comedy Star will be a yearly event, adding, “We are going to have another one this year and we are going to start planning early so that we will have more sponsors because the maiden edition wasn’t really profitable even for the AY brand; we put our money to make sure that a major part of it is covered.”
On the argument that the winner was already a made comedian before the show, he said, “made comedian means you are already making money and in the mainstream, but this is not the case; Aproko was not in the mainstream. He’s not in the mainstream, but he’s going to be there because of his talent.
Speaking on the impact of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry, AY said, “It was very bad; I am not expecting anyone to ask me how bad it is because it’s extremely bad. It is crazy when you don’t have money coming in and you are spending; it’s something that provokes you to your spirit and that is what COVID-19 has done to the entertainment industry.
He continued: “It was really bad for me as an individual because it started when I was about staging AY Live. Artistes had already been paid and we have done a lot of publicity and just a week to the event, the announcement of lockdown was made; that also locked my money in the pocket of most of the artistes.
“I was going to do a movie, a major collaboration with the Chinese people and that also did not happen because of the pandemic, so, it was very bad for the brand.”
Commenting on the show, Anita Alaire Afoke Asuoha, known as Real Warri Pikin, said, “this is a good thing. Platform like this always showcase hidden talents, and I am super excited about this. Being a woman in this part of the world is a disadvantage, there is always talking down on women in the entertainment industry. When they see women coming out, they always say the words like, ‘Comot you be woman, you no even funny, go focus on your marriage, go school and go born pikin’. I get that comment a lot and even till now, but whenever I hear it, it makes me stronger. Young women must not allow the talks to affect them.”