Comedy as a branch of business is estimated to yield over N85Bn per year in Nigeria, according to a study in 2015. Most of this is however in Lagos. Now, a push is on to make Port Harcourt to cash in on this a capture a big size of it.
Humourpreneurs in the Garden City say for decades, comedy shows in Port Harcourt have barely broke even, but that the industry is picking up.
Insiders have mentioned a business man and investor who may have become the biggest supporter of the comedy industry. He is My-Ace China, known as the Mayor of Housing because of his massive real estate drive around Nigeria and beyond.
Giving insight on this, one of the strongest comedy-preneurs in the Garden City, K.O. Baba Jorsen, a consultant and publicist, told BusinessDay that hundreds of comedians look up to the Mayor of Housing, the man about to unveil the biggest estate in PH, the Alesa Highland, to get shows through.
He said that the comedy world in Port Harcourt sees him as a big blessing. “There is no comedy show in Port Harcourt without his footprint. He is so unique a character. He has integrity, and I call him the epitome of generosity. He has the heart. God is blessing him and he is blessing others.”
He said a lot of people see him as a venture-capitalist, “Somebody who would have to add to what you have to execute your project.”
Another top comedian in the Garden City popularly known as GSN (Ekwubiri Udochi Godson aka GSN comedian), said: “The Mayor of Housing happens to be the only supporter of comedians and entertainers in general in Port Harcourt in recent times. “He supports, appreciates and Give credit where due. He is always encouraging the young gems. He is a great man.”
Throwing some light into what ways the Mayor of supports the industry, GSN said My Ace-China attends their shows, gives financial support, calls you before the show to give you insights on publicity and all. “He calls you after the show to point out some ways for one to improve.
“He has comedians as ambassadors of his businesses, holds conferences for comedians in areas of career growth”.
A comedy-preneur is a stand-up comedian on stage. In an interview on his involvement in the comedy industry, the Mayor of Housing said: “I love to support these growing comedians especially Port Harcourt-grown comedians to reduce the Lagos vs Niger Delta dichotomy in the entertainment industry. Most of these comedians, when they get to Lagos, are well appreciated and remunerated but similar talents and skills in the Niger Delta are not so appreciated. These guys are crying over lack of support.
“As the Mayor of Housing, I have taken it as a duty to support them. The office of Mayor of Housing gives me responsibility to provide housing and I have also taken the responsibility to support the comedy industry especially in the Niger Delta because that is the industry that produced me, and I owe it a lot of support because I know how much I wasn’t supported when I was in it.”
He said some of the comedians that perform on the stage do it for free, just to get the opportunity to showcase their talents. Sometimes, transport money to go home is an issue. “So, I don’t only attend and buy table but I also drop a little thing for every comedian that performed at such an event.”
The Mayor of Housing said comedy is growing as a big industry world over. “If you talk of places such as America, the Daily Show with Trevor Noah is a huge industry with a big followership. Dwarfs in the Nollywood industry is doing well. The music and entertainment sector has grown big and is full blown industry. The comedy industry is only full blown in one particular city, and that is Lagos.
“That is because most corporate entities in Lagos have understood the value of the comedy industry. If most of the corporate entities in the Niger Delta begin to appreciate them and pay premium for the value, am also sure it will mature into that industry. It is a huge industry worldwide and can compete with any other entertainment industry. Sources put comedy in Nigeria to be worth N50bn in 20015, and by an estimated annual growth rate of 10 per cent, it should be worth N85Bn per year by 2022; while it is $321.4m in the US.
The Mayor of Housing disclosed his plans to reward a comedian from Kogi State who did what he liked. “I not only point out, I reward when they do the right; and I correct them when they do the wrong thing. If you perform and allow your result to get you reward, I encourage that a lot. I have been teaching them about what we call ‘The Value Exchange Circle’ in the corporate world.”
He revealed he would like to suggest comedy as a fully incorporated segment of national life in the face of over 80 per cent of CEOs and those above 50 years face suicide, frustration, hardship, blood pressure, etc in Nigeria.
He said he was not only a big fan of comedy being a fully integrated sector of national life, that he is also big on what he called humourtherapy.
“As a medical lab scientist by training, I am looking forward to a clinic that engages and involves humour-therapy to treat patients. This is because stress has emerged as one of the causative factors in 97 per cent of degenerative diseases such as blood pressure. One of the ways to cure stress is laughter. Believe me, for the youth and the younger people, they are not feeling the depression because they have a way of turning everything to fun and comedy. The aged bracket of about 50 and above is made up of those people that feel that they are too old to laugh.
“Charlie Chaplin, one of pioneers and foremost comedians in the US said you don’t stop laughing because you get old but you get old because you stop laughing. If we put that in the context of health, I can equally say that you don’t stop laughing because you get sick but you get sick because you stop laughing.
“It is not just for national fabric but even the health therapeutic fabric of the country. I think comedy is very huge.”