by Wilfred Okiche
In the space of 6 years, the AY Live show hosted by comedian AY Makun has become the hottest comedy ticket in town. Enjoying huge corporate buy-in, major (and minor) celebrity endorsement and general public acceptance, it is perhaps the biggest comic live act presently.
Which is why it is frustrating that after all these years, AY and his organizers still find themselves defeated by the inveterate problems of event planning; details like starting way way behind schedule, a disastrous seating arrangement and a presumably simple lack of projection of the number of guests expected.
While tardiness can be blamed on the Nigerian, nay African factor, the later just reeks of ill preparedness tinged with a dash of avarice. And no Ali Baba’s face-saving attempt, explaining how organizers sold x number of tickets and xxx number of people with tickets showed up does not exactly hold water. Sure there were many other apologies but while AY’s seemed more genuine and self-effacing, compere, Freeze of Cool FM was more concerned about the glass railings in the Expo hall of the Eko hotel and suites, worrying that the surging, unseated masses would lean in and shatter them into tiny fragments.
Anyway, about the show itself; as comedy shows go, this one was funny. Very funny. Very very funny. A sort of face-off between the old and new school performers, AY gathered his friends; old and new, mentors and mentees for a stellar display. Doyens like Ali Baba and Julius Agwu took centre stage alongside upstarts, Emeka Smith and Seyi Law. While the older acts were more restrained and deliberate, save perhaps for Julius Agwu’s brilliant session, it was the younger dudes who perhaps, hungry for name recognition and approval won the bout, sending the audience into peals upon fits of laughter and trouncing their elder colleagues. MC Shakara and Funny bone were standouts in a strong, competitive field.
For a show tagged AY live, there was too little AY on display as he was more preoccupied screaming himself hoarse, running things from behind. There was an inspired Darey Art Alade-Kim Kardashian recorded skit with Ghanaian starlet Juliet Ibrahim who finally got her shine time and another live one with Ibrahim and Chris Attoh that did not quite work, morphing into AY’s now familiar white garment wearing, bell ringing act which ended abruptly.Even his attempts at standup were half hearted and he admitted as much, explaining he was more preoccupied behind the scenes as the show runner.
AY live has become less of a comedy show and more a variety presentation, featuring music, comedy and dance and would probably translate brilliantly to television. There were show-stopping dance performances from an upcoming group from Ibadan and an enjoyable pop medley from the acapella and dance troupe who performed.
The final arc was an hour of musical performances by some of pop music’s current favourites. Tonto Dikeh opened with a much threatened and much postponed live act. Of course the only thing live about it was her physical presence. Lacking any vocal ability, she wisely restricted herself to keeping up with her better trained dancers and… surprise surprise! was not the disaster one may have expected. Lost in her own zone and suspiciously inebriated to ‘Hi’ heavens, she choreographed a medley of her songs and was not worse off than the other acts; D’Prince, Terry G, KCee and Timaya whose only advantage on her was their collection of better songs. Folks who couldn’t be bothered at least kept leaning in to see just how far up north her bum short was willing to ride. Fair bargain.
Olamide and his dance-heavy tunes remain a crowd favourite. Iyanya, coming off a string of tired performances previously,called on Kaffy and her girls for help and while their moves weren’t always synchronized- at times competing for the spotlight- at least brought on the eye candy. Anyone who has been to at least 2 Wizkid gigs of recent will be familiar with his current set list and he did not deviate much in the closing act.
It is clear AY Live has outgrown it’s Eko Hotel limitations or any such indoor cloistering. Perhaps expanding it into multiple shows a day would serve audiences better. Or if AY insists on keeping his audience standing, taking it to an outdoorsy venue- a stadium, a field, something, anything to ease the pain for poor souls willing to part with a few bucks for some laughs.