Comedian, filmmaker and CEO of Corporate World Entertainment Limited, Ayo Makun, aka AY, speaks to TOFARATI IGE about the comedy industry and other issues
What is your proudest moment as a filmmaker?
I honestly cannot pinpoint one moment as my proudest moment because God has blessed me as a filmmaker. My first movie got a Guinness World Records(formerly known as Guinness Book of Records) listing. So far, I have five box office successes. I am sought after by big corporate brands and individuals to do collaborations but I daresay the moments that give me the most pleasure is the feedback I get when people pay their money to watch my movies and enjoy themselves. Nothing beats that.
What are some of the common challenges you face in the course of filmmaking?
Like other filmmakers, getting the resources to create the visions in my head is still a challenge because we currently don’t have the RoI streams to make that investment feasible.
Is filmmaking as lucrative as comedy for you?
Filmmaking is immensely lucrative though I will not say it is as lucrative as comedy. This is because I organise four comedy shows in a year and I’m planning to expand that number. But the current scenario is that I make just one film in a year because of the time and effort that goes into making it. Maybe when the cinemas increase to allow me to make two or three films in a year, then I can answer ‘yes’ to that question.
Do you think you are a better comedian or actor?
I am good at my job and I am always studying to increase my capacity to deliver on my craft. I liken my ratings to those who pay their money to watch me perform, whether on stage or screen.
How would you react to critics who say you are not funny enough as a comedian?
I always bring my A-game to the table, whether I am on stage or in front of the camera. The perception of the audience, whether in an event hall or a movie theatre, has to do with how well my delivery connects with them.
Who is your favourite comedian?
Alibaba is my all-time favourite comedian. Apart from the fact that he raised me in this business, he is always fresh and never without witty content.
What are some of the changes you would like to see in the comedy industry?
I would like to see more love shown in the industry. Collaborations are needed for collective growth
What drives you as an entertainer?
My driving force is my desire to positively put Nigeria on the world map with a new narrative. I want to use my work, both on stage and screen, to draw international attention to the latent creative talents that abound in the country and to give these young talents an opportunity to bloom.
How have you been able to sustain the AY Live Show over the years?
We have been able to stay relevant through innovation and more innovation. Our primary desire, in the company, is to keep the audience wanting more. This desire informs the content we create every year– from our choice of artistes and comedians to our stage plays and skits. I believe the fact that the guests always get something new keeps them coming.
What’s your reaction to people who complain that AY Live usually features the same set of comedians?
The truth is that you shouldn’t change a winning team. The comedians we work with are always fresh and hot, so it will not make sense to leave them and look for others who are not as hot. Even though our hit squad is the same, we still provide room for a few new comedians to perform every year because like I previously shared, it is my goal that Nigerian talents bloom.
Do you still plan to get involved in other aspects of entertainment?
There are no plans to go outside my current areas of concentration which are filmmaking, events and television content. The main reason for this is because I have not even scratched the surface within this space. So, my plan is to consolidate and make even bigger films, more engaging television content and events to satiate my markets.
Can you recall the first amount you were paid as a comedian?
I was paid N70,000 by Opa Williams for the comedy event, Night of A Thousand Laughs.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learnt in the course of your career?
I have learnt to never rest on my oars because the goalpost is continually being moved as the tides change.
When do you regard as the most defining moment in your career?
I would say having the boldness to produce 30 Days in Atlanta was my defining moment because it opened a whole new vista for me and placed me on the trajectory I am currently cruising on.
What do you regard as the lowest moment of your career?
None springs to mind as a career blow, though every low moment has been a learning curve for me.
Have you ever been a victim of cyber bullying? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I believe everyone has been a victim of cyber bullying. In my case, I used to let it get to me but I have learnt to treat them as I do other haters– by breaking new milestones and living them in the dust.
How do you balance your career and family?
I have an understanding family and they give pockets of space when I need to focus on a project, despite what society expects. For example, it is Yuletide and I am out promoting my new film, Merry Men 2, with the support of my wife and daughter. However, I always make sure to give them my maximum attention, so my home does not suffer as I invest time and effort in my business.
Do you engage in household chores?
I make noodles occasionally.
Would you like your daughter to follow in your footsteps as an entertainer?
Michelle (my daughter) is daddy’s girl and a talented young lady. I will support her career choice with advice and relevant input to ensure she succeeds.
A lot of people believe that the marriages of entertainers don’t last. How have you been able to keep your home for over 11 years?
It has been mostly through the grace of God. Also, the loving understanding of my wife is the reason for my testimony. Mabel (my wife) is a true partner in progress. She is my friend, wife, sister, lover, mother and personal assistant.
Do your wife and daughter laugh at your jokes?
They are my greatest critics, so whenever I get a material that is funny to them, I know I have struck gold.
Some people believe that first born children usually face a lot of pressure from their family members. Do you feel that way too?
My siblings are all highly independent and successful. We complement each other.
What advice do you have for up and coming entertainers?
It is very important to keep your dreams in front as your goalposts but don’t neglect the advice of your mentors, so that you won’t make the same mistakes they did.
What’s your favourite fashion item?
I love shoes.
How do you relax?
Work is my relaxation. I am at my happiest when I am planning the next project.