This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Bovi - I Was a Comedy Apprentice for Three Years

Humour merchant and multifarious artiste, Bovi Ugboma has become the toast of fans within and outside Nigeria. His broad spectrum of knowledge base and ability to manufacture jokes where others fail to explore appears to be his star power. This 33-year-old graduate of Theatre Arts talks to LANRE ODUKOYA and Okoyomon Ejaye about "the truths and misgivings" on his personality

MY HUMBLE BEGINNING...

I went professional as an actor in 2007 and as a stand-up comedian in 2008. But my foray into entertainment actually dates back to 2004. So you see, it depends on how much the person describing me knows me. I put in a lot of years as an apprentice and a researcher before going practical.

RELATIONSHIP WITH AY, BASKETMOUTH...

In 2008, Ayo Makun (AY) asked me to feature in his programme and I obliged. When I got bored, I asked out of the billionaire thing. As for Bright Okpocha (Basket Mouth), we had been acquaintances in my formative years. In 2007, I asked him to feature in my sitcom, Extended Family and he agreed. So, once I went into mainstream stand-up in 2008, our closeness was inevitable. Apart from the fact that we complement each other intellectually, I understudied Bright from 2005 till 2008. We come up with new stuffs every other meeting. So it's good for business.

ABOUT MY SHOWS...

I've had TV shows since 2007, two for that matter. I just got two nominations for the maiden Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for best actor in Comedy and Best Writer category for my efforts in The Bovi Ugboma Show. I'm also doing my first stand-up comedy show on March 10. It's tagged Bovi - Man on Fire. But unlike most other shows, this is a solo stand-up comedy show. I want to express myself for an hour and more. I think that's d trademark of a true stand-up comedian.

WHY I UNDERSTUDIED BASKET MOUTH...

He is natural. That is one of the reasons I understudied him. The ability to find humour in the driest place is another thing going for him. I learnt stuffs from watching several comedians but I saw more similarities in Basket Mouth's style.

CLIQUES IN NIGERIAN COMEDY INDUSTRY ...

What you call cliques might just be pairs or groups of friends. I have a cordial relationship with most of the practitioners in this trade. I'm doing Julius Agwu's show in February. If there were cliques, I won't be there. I spend nights in the homes of I Go Save and I Go Dye. Okey Bakassi is like a father to us all. So where is the clique?

RESOLVE ON BUSINESS AND FAMILY...

The way I see it, it will be business as usual. I just want to reach out more and make money in honest ways. And I want to spend more time with my family.

WHAT I WAS DOING BEFORE COMEDY...

I haven't tried anything that's not tied to entertainment and lifestyle. Before entertainment, I was in the university. After graduation, I served with NTA Lokoja as a reporter. That's the farthest I went.

CHILDHOOD...

I'd say a modest childhood was what I had. I never lacked. And if I did, it was cushioned with love and attention. It was fair enough, I'd say.

MISSION IN COMEDY...

I just wanted to entertain in the beginning. It's like an urge one can't control. But now that I'm more matured, I realised that my work affects lives. So, I try to entertain primarily but also use the medium as a correctional tool for our youths, our government and our system. People may laugh at our jokes but they believe most of the things we say. So that's it, entertain, enlighten and inform are the things I do.

HAS MY JOKES AFFECTED ANYONE NEGATIVELY?...

I wouldn't know. Remember, I said first and foremost my mission is to entertain. So no matter what, I ensure everyone gets a good laugh. I'm not Bakare or El-rufai. I'm Bovi and my mission is to entertain first and foremost. Most of the people I've made jokes on still hire me especially in government. So they understand my job perhaps.

THEFT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY...

I've heard of comedians using my jokes at premium events and I didn't hesitate to call them to order by confronting them with the question and then a warning. I air my displeasure basically. This applies in premium events, the ones that may end up on You tube or CDs. Those are the only ones I take personal.

WHERE COMEDIANS BELONG...

The art is very individualistic. So, perhaps that's why it's slow to get a structured regulatory body. And transactions are pretty straight forward. In my opinion, comedians should belong to NANTAP because our art is theatrical. It's like a one man drama.

THE BOVI YOU MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN

I'm a method actor, a writer and a motivational speaker perhaps. Comedy is just a piece of the puzzle. Time will tell.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO DIFFERENTLY...

I've often given that a thought. In as much as I have no regrets, I guess I'd just be more outspoken if I had to do it all again. And I wouldn't waste time trying to please people who are desperate to make me feel guilty.

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