October 5, 2014

Artist profile: Basketmouth.

Basketmouth dazzled the crowd at Ayva center, Houston Texas, spiting out homegrown jokes with the usual crude spin.  He had the audience on a roll! Every funny bone was struck.  Basketmouth was on his Basketmouth Uncensored tour, making his gracious stop over in Houston.  The event was welcomed by a packed venue with little standing room.  There were roars and cheers as the audience were taken on the misadventures of a dysfunctional mind.  As usual, his comedy is not for kids, he warns "You all paid for this shit!" forewarning the audience on the impending unleashing.  Nothing is safe or off limits as long as this comedian is concerned, tackling issues on sex, family, religion, Nigerian police, the diaspora, the government, the gay community.  He got comfortable as he settled down to the anticipating crowd.  Basketmouth is an animated performer, every body part is engaged in his routine.  Notable are his springy step, how wide those eyes can open and how fluid his limbs fly with his fingers as an accessory.  

Basketmouth has honed his craft over many years, coming from humble beginnings during his school years, to days when he could be found on YouTube, till now, filling arenas.  He's now a highly sought after comedian on an international scale, working with heavy weights like Cedric the Entertainer. He's manged to garner so many loyal fans waiting for what would come out of his mouth next.  He can rightfully retain the title as the leading comedian in Nigeria.  

At the speed that he's going it can be said that this comedian's future is Bright.

This comedic star maintains a tight schedule, making it hard to catch him on a dull moment.  He was gracious enough however to grant me the pleasure of a chat.
Tell us about yourself, family background and education.
I'm Ibo, from Abia state, third child from 7 children, I was born in Ajegunle and grew up through Ajegunle, Olodi Apapa, Kirikiri town, Ebute meta, Isolo, Iponri, Surulere and Lekki, soon Banana Island will join the list. I schooled through Apapa primary school, Oniru primary school, United christian secondary school and Uniben where I studied Sociology. 
Basketmouth is the leading comedian in Nigeria, tell us how the journey began?
It began a long time ago, say about 20 years but I started practicing proper stand up 16 years ago and I would say I started professional stand up comedy 14 yrs ago. I figured I could do it when I saw Eddie Murphy's Delirious, it got me started pretty good. With high hopes, hard work and persistence I did what I could do at what presented itself, it wasn't an easy ride, but God was partial with me all through, it was pretty tough however never did a time come that I considered quiting. 
What are the challenges so far?
Just normal challenges that faces a young struggling man, strangely the challenges came much later, like right now, trust me climbing that ladder up is not as hard as staying up there, maintaining the brand, changing with time, enhancing the brand continuously and remaining relevant are some of the challenges upon me, but like I said,God has been partial with me.
You draw an impressive crowd during your performances, what's the secret to your success?
God comes first in everything I do, so I can comfortably say that God makes it happen. The love from the fans comes in quite vital, the brand and substance plays a major role as well.
Why do you think big celebrities such as yourself are held up to very high standards?
 ‎In anything that one does and does with love and passion and it's being appreciated by many, he or she will be held up very high. 
If a genie granted you just three wishes, what would you wish for? Why?
I would wish for great health for me, family and friends, I'm sure you know why.  I would wish for wealth, I'm sure you know why as well; then I would wish for happiness.
You are hailed as one of the comedians that helped rejuvenate the Nigerian comedy industry, looking at your contributions, do you think you've done it all?
 Nobody can ever do it all, there are loads of work to be done, the industry is no where near where it should be right now.
Comparing the Nigerian entertainment industry and other entertainment industries in the world, where do you rank Nigeria?
Let's not rank Nigeria amongst the western world for a start, let's stick to Africa for now, a man must first crawl before he can walk. Anyway, in Africa, Nigeria should be top 2.
Do Nigerian entertainers get the respect they deserve? How do they fare globally?
‎In Africa yes the entertainment industry is very well appreciated and respected and it's breaking into other parts of the world, but slowly. Although it's faster than most of us expected. 
Where's the future of Nigerian entertainment?
The future is ‎quite promising, people are now more receptive and supportive with regards to the art, comedy has become a significant element when it comes to movies, events and parties, people are also now more exposed to comedy which clearly helps as per numbers and fans. 
Most of your shows are done outside Nigeria, what are the reasons for that?
I do shows anywhere I'm booked to perform or where my management sets up my one man stand up comedy tour or any other concert, so it's a matter of who books me, fortunately I've been getting more bookings outside Nigeria, ‎which is why it appears so, the way it works is, when a client books me for a gig in New York and the show is successful, the promoter in the next state or city would want to host his own show. I'm still doing shows in Nigeria, don't get me wrong, but I do more outside. 
How many comedians have you discovered?
I'm not the kind that will expose such information, the comedians I've discovered should tell the story, they know themselves.
What else do you do apart from comedy?
I run an ‎entertainment company Barons World Entertainment - a total solution events company, I also just launched Barons World Records and have just signed my first artist who's album comes out soon. I also run a very quiet company called Maggie Peterson Agent, which is an artist booking agency and management, I'm particularly almost into anything that is entertainment related. 
What would you have loved to become apart from a comedian?
Honestly......nothing else, I love what I do and have never imagined myself doing anything else.
Ladies don't give up on guys like you, you're cute and quite hilarious.  How do you manage the female fans?
The same way I manage the male fans, they're fans and I love and appreciate them equally. ‎By the way, I don't think I'm that cute.....I just de try small small. 
How do you relate with your colleagues?
I am good friends with most of them and those ones I treat them as friends, the ones I'm not very good friends with, I treat them as colleagues, which comes with respect, love and admiration for their talent and works.
How do you combine family and career?‎
 It's not hard, well for me, I have been able to separate my family from my work, so when I'm not on stage I'm at home, luckily I'm not a night crawler so my free time is well spent with my family.
How many awards have you won?‎
I stopped counting at some point but I think I've won enough, now I'm more into winning new fans than new awards. 
What big projects are you currently on?
 I'm working on a concert called ' Lords of the ribs' which will feature Cedric the entertainer.
How do you unwind?
 I'm very easy, movies, hanging with my family and close friends, mostly movies. I'm a big time movie buff.
What does fashion mean to you?  Who are your favorite designers?
Fashion is a way of life, an expression and a statement. ‎As per my favorite designer, I'm honestly tired of giving these guys free hype, so I would say that my favorite designer is the one that makes what I look good in and that fits quite well.
What message do you have for your fans?
You guys have over the years supported me and my art, loved my work, tolerated me and blessed me with your laughs and cheers, I will forever remain grateful and will do everything within my power to make you proud and remain who I am and even better. God bless you all.

Basketmouth features in the Fall issue of You International magazine, available soon.

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