Atuyota Akporobomeriere a.k.a. Ali Baba
Ali Baba started his comedy career way back his university days at Bendel State University now Edo State University, Ekpoma in 1988. Then as a student, Atuyota Akporobomeriere popularly known as Ali Baba was just being funny. It was just like a joke. There was no plan then to make comedy a business. But gradually it became an income earner as he was being paid between N100 and N120 per show. By the time he left school, he was already earning N150.
That became an eye opener. However, at that time, comedy was not a paying business in the larger society. How many people are willing to pay to be made to laugh? Not a man to quit in the midst of challenges, Ali started to work on his talent for the next level.
Launching out at the larger society wasn’t easy because there was nothing on the ground before him. Those he met in the entertainment industry weren’t looking at it as he was looking at it. Though people saw comedy as an unserious thing, he saw it as big business. To him it wasn’t just any other side attraction but a mainstay.
Though he didn’t have anybody on the ground when he moved over to Lagos, Ali carved a niche for himself and for the comedy industry. After a stint with the Charlie Boy show, Ali Baba gradually became a known face and in no time, individuals and corporate bodies began to sign up for his services. Now there are lots of people in the industry who equally are doing very good. One of the problems he encountered was the fee factor. And because he was sure of his ability to deliver and add value, he made sure his services are paid for in the right proportion.
Today comedians anchor events and are also into events management. is the first person to go to an event. They come up with venues, decorators, ushers etc that will be used. It’s no longer managing with anything that comes your way, these days events that are to be remembered must have a stand up comedian anchoring it. Some comedians are booked well in advance.
His effort has made it possible for comedy not to be a street thing. Comedians are now in the main stream and have a corporate outlook. There is now a corporate identity associated with what they do. Ali Baba’s bigg break came in 1999 when Chief Olabode George called to invite him for a small birthday party being organized for President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ali Baba made a good impression on the then President Obasanjo, which paved way for him in the corridors of power. His closeness to Mr. President has brought to Ali such names as the president’s personal jester or Aso Rock’s favourite comedian.
Ali Baba can be credited for being the major force behind taking comedy from being a side kick to a serious business with popular comedians attaining celebrity status and commanding high appearance fees in events and shows.