I’m strongly of the opinion that the Nigerian comedy industry is just as woefully unimaginative as Nollywood. But, unlike movies, comedy is relatively accessible and made even more ubiquitous via the platform of social media. It’s not uncommon for Nigerian stand-up comedians to craft sexist, ableist, misogynistic, homophobic jokes during their live sets, so when Chisom Paula posted an AY Live Lagos video from 2014 on her Instagram, showing the comedian spewing vile homophobia masquerading as comedy, I wasn’t really surprised.
Paula, who identifies as a social media manager and consultant, was returning from Lagos to Owerri when she saw the homophobic video playing in the bus she was travelling in. And had to write an open letter to AY Makun on Instagram, using the hashtags #LoveIsLove, #HumanEquality, #NoHate.
An Open letter to Mr Ayo Makun @aycomedian #LoveIsLove #humanequality #equality #nohate @kito_diaries @instablog9ja please rt to reach concerned party… Please spread love not hate. On my way coming back from Lagos to owerri, I patronized ABC transport service. While in the bus, one of your Ay live video was playing (Ay live 2014 Lagos) to be exact. I must say, I was appalled by the content of the joke. I will attach the video to this letter. Do watch the video and if you see nothing wrong with it, I will take you further to the other moments which have conveniently been deleted online. You said and I quote you “If they throw bomb, and you dey run see man wey dey run like (at this moment, you demonstrated how most effeminate men may run) catch am, kill am, na gay. “If you go club, and you see man wey dey dance like (at this point, you were twerking) catch am, kill am, na gay. Sir, I why would you preach violence, I saw you as someone people looked up to who stands for good but the video changed my views. If you don’t know what was wrong with your performance and speech, I will be happy to spell it out for you. Firstly you said “their papa” to all those people saying that they have the right to live freely and be who they are. To love freely and be happy. Which is a fundamental human right that you blatantly disregarded and stomped on. Secondly you preached murder and total disregard for Human life. Who made you Judge, Jury, and executioner? Are you better? In the Bible, Jesus Christ said to the men that wanted to stone the woman for adultery “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” are you without sin? You are a walking cliché and stereotype, not all gay men are effeminate and not all effeminate men are gay. So why would you tell people to drag a men to the authorities simply because he is polished and exhibits some mannerisms which is socially attributed to women. Haven’t you heard of Mind your own business? Of what business is yours if a man decides to twerk in the club “Lord of the twerking comitee, dance moves maker, champion of the beat” is he twerking for you? I know ooo it’s comedy, you can say anything.
The video is extremely vile, promoting violence against an already marginalised, dehumanised LGBTQ group in Nigeria. I couldn’t watch it to the end. Bearing in mind that most Nigerian comics don’t churn out intelligent, thought-provoking material, or even attempt to elevate the craft, Makun is somewhat of a misnomer. There’s the vast public opinion that he is unfunny, and rightfully so. Makun can’t crack a joke to save his life.
Marginalised communities in Nigeria have long been a rich comedic resource, go-to tropes for the talentless bunch of comics. Like Nollywood, Nigerian comedy is still a joke (pun intended).
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.