“Can comedy be taught in school?” this was a serious question I was asked over the weekend, and it got me thinking how noble does the society see stand up comedy.
Over the years stand-up comedy has become one of the biggest force in entertainment especially here in Nigeria, well over the western world it has brought fame and fortune to a lot of people from different generations, but here in Nigeria do we see comedy as a noble profession?
Before Ali Baba who is the frontier of urban contemporary stand up comedy became rich and famous through cracking jokes, comedy was never seen as a job, I mean nobody could professionally say I am a comedian and there was no room created to fit in people with the talent of humour. Then Ali Baba rose to fame and prominence which also saw the likes of Julius Agwu and Uche Ogbuagwu who had comedy tapes respectively to sell their brands too and well… if not piracy, made a little fortune off it but yet it is unheard of to tell your parents that you want to become a stand-up comedian in the near future.
The formative years followed with the arrival of stand-up comedy concerts which was organised by Opa Williams with the then biggest and only comedy brand known all over Nigeria “Night of a Thousand Laugh” that saw the emergence of Basket Mouth, I Go Dye, Maleke, I Go Save, MC Basket Mouth, Mike Ogbolosinga and host of many others. This was just a platform to stardom for some of these guys, though some fell off on the way and probably others just got tired of joking around and decided to do something “meaningful” with their lives.
But a few of these names went on to establish themselves as superstars in the industry thus creating a brand name for themselves, like basket mouth who would later go on to create his own comedy concert “Lord of The Ribs” and “BasketMouth Uncensored”.
Then a new generation emerged that will see the likes of AY, Buchi, Bovi, Gordons, and a host of others who came at a time comedy could be seen as a business which could be tried if you can’t succeed in the corporate world but then people are already making some small fortune off the humour business. Well at this stage your family could give you a little encouragement if they can spot some small potential in you but then you have to go to the university in case you won’t succeed in making people laugh.
But as time changes it seems the society begins to see comedy beyond jesting and clowning and now sees it as performing art where people could become professional and make good money out of it.
Now comedy is the second biggest thing next to music in Nigeria and corporate bodies have gone as far as investing in it, thus creating a business environment where talent can be traded.
But the question still remains “can comedy be taught in schools Just like music and painting?
In my fair opinion I think to make it more organised and reduce the number of mediocrity in the business, stand-up comedy should be taught in school just as we go to learn theatre art.