Award ceremonies are organised usually to celebrate outstanding individuals that have distinguished themselves in their fields. They are very popular especially in the showbiz circuit with many music awards both nascent and private. Steering in a different direction is a young woman called Ladi Gombe, and she pioneers the first comedy awards in Nigeria — Diamond Awards for Comedy.

Determined to up the ante in awards, her company Latview, is giving out a total of N2.5million naira, in cash, to winners ,apart from a brand new car which will go to the Comedian of the year 2008. We caught up with her a few days to the event and this was what we found out.

My name is Ladi Gombe. I’m from Gombe state. I run an events company called Latsview Concept Limited and right now I’m organising the Diamond Awards for Comedy.

How did you come into events organising and for how long have you been involved?

Well I’ve been into events for close to five years now and I’ve always loved events. I’ve also always wanted to be on my own. I’ve worked for a couple of people in times past but I didn’t start my own company until two years ago.

Which events have you handled in times past?

I’ve done a couple of shows for Total, Chevron and a few other companies whose names you may not really know. This is my first major show.

Tell us more about it.

Its called the Diamond Awards for Comedy. Its an award to appreciate comedians because I think they’re doing a very good job. They’ve done so well and I think they need to be appreciated properly and that’s what I’m trying to do here.

Why comedy?

I’m rewarding comedy because I’ve always had a passion for comedy. I’ve always loved comedy right from when I was a very little girl and so far so good I think I should do this for them.

Did you study anything connected with showbiz in school?

No. I studied Marketing at the University of Port Harcourt.

So why the diversion into entertainment or have you been able to find a connection between both?
People read in school courses they do not have passion for. Many times people who have serious passion for a thing come back to their passion no matter what they read. At the end of the day, it falls back on what one loves. It happens everyday and we are used to the system.

How many categories are there in Diamonds Award for Comedy?

Six. We have the ‘Comedian of the Year, Most Creative Comedian, Best New Comedian, Best Female Comedian, Best Stand Up and Best Comedy Act.

How did you arrive at your nominees?

Generally people voted. Then we did opinion sampling around the country. It was open to votes first then after the voting, which is the very crucial part of the whole process. Our criteria are Originality, Acceptability, Visibility and the comedy brand- equity itself. We went around agencies, blue-chip companies and spoke with a lot of people along the line.

Eventually we were able to cut down to size.

How will winners emerge?

At the end of the day, winners are expected to emerge by votes.

I understand that there are some incentives that come along with winning in any of the categories.
Yes. Comedian of the year goes home with a million naira and a brand new car then other winners from the different categories will go home with N300, 000 each in cash.

You definitely must have some big sponsors.

Now that’s the irony, we don’t.

Why have you decided to give away other things in addition to the traditional plaques award ceremonies are notable for giving away?

You need to encourage these people. From the standpoint of the creator of this award it is not good anymore to just give people awards and there is really nothing extra to take home.

We all know that most of these comedians can afford even more than what we are giving so its not the cash per say, it’s the encouragement. Like Is say, if you have a million naira and you are given a hundred thousand naira more, it becomes N1.1M and its still useful.

The whole idea is to take things to the next level. Most awards given in different places around the world have other attachments. If its not money given in cash, its money in barter.

Any partners on this project?

Bank PHB mainly.

Have you had experiences of nominees lobbying either directly or indirectly?

The good thing is that we are not politicians. Besides there’s an electoral panel headed by Justice

Atigogo. For security reasons right now, I will not like to call the names of other persons on that panel. So after the show, everybody will know who and who chose who.

Do you think voting presents each nominee a fair chance for winning?

If you are good in the comedy business, you must be on the top flight shows and every comedian has his followers. If AY is your person, Basketmouth might be someone else’s so basically everyone is gonna vote. They all have their followers.

And how has the response being like in terms of voting?

It’s been beautiful and very encouraging.

With only a few days to the D-day, how’s the preparation coming along?

Everything is going on well. So far, so good, everything has been perfect.

What kind of a show are you promising?

A very fantastic and standard show.