Ali Baba is one of the few individuals in the entertainment industry that need absolutely no introduction. For many who are conscious of the comedy section of the showbiz circle, Ali Baba’s name is not only synonymous with stand up comedy in Nigeria but he more or less personifies the art of stand up comedy.

That he is the most expensive comedian in Nigeria would not be strange to anybody except if the person is not aware of the fact that he single handedly established the immensely thriving business of stand up comedy in the country.

This is because when he started laying the foundation of the profession of gratifying humuor in 1990 alongside late Muhammed Danjuma, his bosom friend and who he uses every opportunity to remember at events, and Okey Bakassi it was extremely difficult. That is not the big deal, rather it was the fact that not even Ali Baba himself could have dreamt of coming this far. But almost 20 years down the line, Ali Baba can look back to the years of toil, pain, hunger and smile at the outstanding measure of success that he has achieved. Also, with the numerous protégés and ‘sons’ on whose lives he has impacted positively and who are creatively taking it to the next level, anyone would be joyous that the gospel has not only taken roots, it has begotten many apostles.

However, the reports making the rounds are that Ali Baba will retire next year by the time he would have clocked 20 years in the humour limelight and many people are wondering why he has to retire so soon, considering the huge guests that usually grace events where he even just performs for awhile. They always unanimously agree that he is indeed the king of stand up comedy in Nigeria. The numerous awards that he has won also indicate this.

Among these are his recent appointment, among other celebrities, as a Special Marshal by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and being voted the Best Wedding MC in Nigeria at the recently held Wedding Events Awards Nigeria.

Known to be a forward looking and versatile individual, he has new plans on his mind which would not only improve the profession but also regulate and better the lot of the practitioners.

This is about the setting up of a kind of body of comedians, which will look like a council for comedians. To be known as the Comedians of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the association would be in charge of the regulation, screening and promotion of comedians based on their creative ability.

In an interview with Saturday Independent, he said: “It is a body called Comedians of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is meant to care for all comedians in the country and regulate their activities.

“As such, every invitation of any event that you see there will be somewhere where Comedians of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is being written and every comedian that is a member is going to be addressed as CFR.”

Ali Baba, who has come a long way from his days of doing comedy in school and being paid as low as N100 at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and many other shows, also disclosed a part of him that would stun some Nigerians and pleasantly surprise many more. The revelation that his life and, indeed, his creative acumen has been fuelled by the intense embrace of letters would make many people wonder how he gets the time to read, while others might query the relevance of books to making people laugh.

According to him, he has not only been inspired by several books that he regularly reads but he has also gone to the extent of writing two books, which he plans to unveil to the public soon. One of the books is based on how to make jokes, while the other is about the general world of comedy.

Though he did not disclose the titles of the books, he said they are products of his desire to correct many wrong things either in the business of stand up comedy or being done by comedians themselves. This is owing to the fact that he believes it is only through reading books and watching movies, which relate to humour a lot, that comedians can make tremendous improvement in the business.

According to him, they have already short listed names such as a worthy supporter of comedy, Opa Williams, and Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka as some of the likely patrons of the new association.

Comedian and manager of Ayo Makun, popularly known as AY, Ush Bebe, in his reaction to the formation of an association of comedians, endorsed the move and sees it as a positive thing.

“Well, it is something that they have been working on for sometime. That did not start now and at least it would help the comedians very much in that it would provide regulation for the practice of comedy in Nigeria. It would also engender unity among fellow comedians, make them more united in their dealings just like we can see it happening among the musicians and actors,” he said.

Julius ‘D Genius’ Agwu, one of the notable names in the industry also told that it would be a remarkable occurrence if comedians could come together to establish such a body for the obvious reasons that it would aid the growth of the young and up and coming ones, and prevent the field of comedians from being overrun by impostors.

“It has been on for sometime really, but it has not worked yet. “We have held series of meetings – myself, Tee A, Okey (Bakassi), Ali Baba and others, but I can’t tell you much about the state of progress; maybe I will need to talk to Ali Baba. If it can work, then it would be fine because as things are now anybody can just go anywhere and tell you I am a comedian, and there is need for regulation.”

With the reputation of Ali Baba as a determined go-getter and his desire for the birth of the body of comedians, which may go as far as screening jokes, promoting comedians and forming a common front to ensure the rights of the humour merchants are not trampled upon, it is the hope of majority of Nigerians that the intended association would not polarise comedians that have been described as united in their camp as it has happened to the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN).