• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Comedy is big business: As Mayor of Housing urges big boys, companies in Niger Delta to support comedians


Those who wish the Niger Delta area faster economic growth must encourage sponsorship of talents especially comedy, music and general entertainment.
This piece of counsel was dropped on the evening of Easter Monday, April 9, 2023, on the side of a comedy event in Port Harcourt termed ‘The Mayor of Pitakwa’ mounted by K.O Baba, one the biggest comedians in the Niger Delta.
In an interview with newsmen, the Mayor of Housing, (real name, My-ACE China), also called the ‘Real Estate Success strategist’, gave many reasons companies should do much of sponsorship of comedians and startups.
China, who is CEO of the Housing and Construction Mayor Ltd, with registered trademark, ‘The Mayor of Housing’, revealed that the best way to sell a brand is to sponsor the youth and support upstarts.
The brand strategist who says he sells value across the housing space with specialized skills in collaborations and innovations that are sustainable, gave insight into what took place on Easter Monday in Port Harcourt, saying it was huge. “It has become a historic day in the Garden City. In the whole of Nigeria, Port Harcourt usually hosts the funniest Easter Monday every year. It is always a funny day in Port Harcourt because the biggest comedy show in the city is hosted by one of the biggest comedy personal brands, K.O. Baba. The show is titled ‘The Mayor of Pitakwa’. It is an event of laughter but more than that, I call it the ‘Meeting of the Three Mayors’.
“In this city, there are three mayors: The Mayor of Port Harcourt who is the chairman of Port Harcourt Local Government Area, host of the seat of power; there is the ‘Mayor of Pitakwa’ and that is Mr K.O Baba, regarded as the ‘Mayor on the Street’. The ‘Mayor of Housing’ is the mayor ruling the housing space.
“Every Easter Monday, apart from the opportunity to come and laugh, it is also the day or the evening of the ‘Tale of Three Mayors’. That day is sacrosanct. We usually meet in the show. Now, the Mayor of Port Harcourt is my friend while the Mayor of Pitakwa is my personal person, but the only day we meet and laugh is Easter Monday.”
Last Monday, he said, the cast was something else too; comedians from all over Nigeria and the Niger Delta. He described them as the kind of people that make cities quake. “They not only got value for their money but got inspired fun that Monday evening.”
Palliative of Laughter
On the importance of such to business growth of Port Harcourt as a city, the Mayor of Housing said it is two-fold; “First is its significance as the Palliative of Laughter. Comedy is one industry that a lot of people undermine. Medically, and even biblically, laughter has been identified as better medicine than chemotherapy (drugs).
“You know we are living in a country of a lot of tension and stress. So, juxtapose that with the theory in medicine that 99 per cent of the diseases (especially degenerative diseases) which are modern day dieses are caused by stress. So, laughter is an anti-stress. The more stress becomes an indicator of diseases, the more laughter becomes a palliative for health.
“The importance of Easter Monday in Port Harcourt is because it is an opportunity for the city to come together and laugh. Togetherness has its own palliative effect. Laughing alone and laughing together are not the same. Laughing together has a therapy. That is what happened in Port Harcourt.”
COMEDY has become big business
He argued that such outings offer an opportunity for brands to showcase themselves. “Comedy has become such big business like in places like Lagos. There are people they now call Laughterpreneurs; people who invest in comedy and reap huge returns on the skills of the comedian. So, in Lagos, comedy shows are a big showcasing for big brands.”
Companies should support upcoming talents
Making a case for sponsorship of upcoming talents, China said: “Last year, I won the ‘Brand of the Year Award’ in Port Harcourt’; I flew to that level on the back of sponsoring comedy shows. I started sponsoring comedy shows in Port Harcourt in 2021 and that has got me to be one of the most popular brands in the city. It is an opportunity for big brands to show up.
K.O Baba is the serial award-winning comedian and one of the best in the Niger Delta. Thirdly, the importance of that event is of personal significance to me. I call it the bridging of the Lagos-Port Harcourt entertainment industry sponsorship dichotomy.”
Decries talents drain in Port Harcourt
He pointed at a very bad trend in Port Harcourt, saying the way there is brain drain from Nigeria to the Diaspora, there is also talent drain from Port Harcourt zone to Lagos. He explained that in the 1960s during the days of Rex Lawson, Port Harcourt played hosts to events like Lagos, but now because the corporate brands (which are mostly in Lagos) pay more for comedy and talents, one would see that Port Harcourt does not pay reasonably well to talented comedians and entertainers.
“Very talented comedians are not appreciated and remunerated as much as their Lagos counterparts. Thus, you see them migrating to Lagos: Burna Boy, Timaya, Mr Sabinus, Josh2Funny, etc. These are all Port Harcourt artistes that are now based in Lagos. The norm in entertainment is; if you don’t leave Port Harcourt, you don’t blow. I am passionate about this Port Harcourt-Lagos dichotomy. Let us celebrate our city and let our talents blow in our own city. That is why what happened on Monday Easter was very significant to me.”
Go for value, not charity
Giving counsel, he urged all local comedians, local musicians, and to all performing artistes, be able to deliver value for value. “I see a lot of comedians asking for sponsorship meanwhile, they do not give value. The reason why corporate people sponsor events is for value. A lot of artists think promoting a sponsor on the day of the show is everything. That is not true. K.O Baba keeps promoting his sponsor all through the year. The whole money my firm spent on his shows we have got them back tenfold.
“There are others where we put money but the money was lost like charity giveaway. My advice to comedians is that people sponsoring you do not do so out of charity, it is business. In business, if the value you give is not more than the payment, the owner of the money will keep his money. It is when the return value is bigger than what he spent that he would want to give to you over and over again. So, you must give value to your brand. Ask for what your show can do for the brand, not what the brand can do for your show.”
He gave a piece of his mind to big boys and corporates: “Port Harcourt boasts of one of the topmost individuals and topmost private sector practitioners, oil businessmen, etc, that are doing very well. If you compare the amount you spend on just drinks with some people, you notice that taking 10 per cent of that amount and sponsoring a major show in town will make more impact on people and stand you out as a good corporate brand.”
He said one of the best social corporate responsibility activities is to support upcoming talents and startup talents. “You become part of their success stories, and when you make people succeed, you reap more than selling your products. At the back of selling your products, people buy more from people that are likeable and are inspirational than people that have the best product. There is no better story than that you supported these talents when they needed help most. Agreed that out of 100 you supported, only about five will blow, but they will give you what the other 95 did not give you.”
He advised that for any brand to be at the top, visibility and likeability are two huge values they must deliver to the market, and one of the best ways to be visible and likeable is to support fledgling talents of the youth. “And if you understand the demography of Nigeria, the youth form more than 60 per cent of the population. Many people neglect that percentage because they feel these young ones do not have purchasing power, but these people that do not have purchasing power today will have it tomorrow. It is important you consider this concept in growing the community where you are doing business.
“Since we came into the Garden City, we do not joke with jokes (comedy), anything that has to do with talents of the youth because we believe that this is where true future value lies.
Personal passion for comedy
He opened up thus: “I have a personal and intimate passion for comedy and that drives my desire and determination in sponsoring comedy above other forms of entertainment. Yours sincerely The Mayor of Housing started as an MC and comedian. The truth is that the comedy industry is one funny industry that you have talents, you have fame, followers, but when you are not in a place that is remunerating you very well, your pockets are empty.
“A lot of people told me I was as good as Basket Mouth and that I should go into comedy full time, but I saw that it was not paying my bills to grow but to survive. I wished the corporate bodies could see the value of comedy and support us to grow.
“When I now grew into a corporate body, I now decided to do what I wished could be done to me. You can call me an ambassador of comedy or a Failed Comedian because I was once a comedian. I failed into The Mayor of Housing. I like that failure because it has made me this Mayor Of Housing but I do not forget where I am coming from. The comedy industry actually produced The Mayor of Housing.”
Why The Mayor of Housing
China also explained how the name came about and got stuck: “The name came up when I started as a real estate success strategist; I believed that people coming together to cooperate or collaborate was more beneficial and productive than people working on their own. When I was in Abuja, I had the penchant for bringing people together in real estate business. So, I was trying to get people together to get exponential value. For this, they started calling me the Convener, Governor of Housing; because I was bringing other professionals together.
“I told them there were already governors and I wanted to be unique, so they now started calling me ‘The Mayor of Housing’ and I loved it. I am the most collaborative and goodwilled business man in Nigeria. I love collaboration and goodwill so much. I believe that innovations and value become exponential when you collaborate.
It’s called “The Metcalfe’s Law: It says the more people are using a thing, the more its value. When two people collaborate, they get square the value of individual effort. You can call me the ‘Value Multiplier’, or the most collaborative business man in Africa. That is why I am the Mayor of Housing.
“I believe that in collaboration and innovation, the end to the housing problem of Nigeria is feasible. If you require 10,000 collaborators to come together to bring a lasting solution and an end of the housing problem in Nigeria, I am the one to bring them together in an innovative way to solve the problem. I do not claim own the solution but I can bring together those who own the solution.
“That is why I am the Mayor of Housing.”