AY Makun is more than a comedian on stage hoping his punchlines connect. He is a business man who sells laughter to Nigerians.
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From sold out shows, best-selling Nollywood movies, online presence and sitcoms, AY is the modern day comedian who is half funny man, half entrepreneur.
In America, there is Kevin Hart, the 5′ 4″ superstar who is presently the biggest number one comedy mogul in the world. In many ways, AY Makun's empire is similar to Kevin Hart's- a huge business with its fingers in many pies.
Some might say he is not the funniest (they say so about Kevin Hart) but you cannot deny that AY is the most business savvy and a genius at promoting his shows and movies.
On September 30, 2016, his next movie 'A Trip to Jamaica' will hit the cinemas. Starring household names like Chris Attoh, Funke Akindele, and Nse Ikpe Etim, 'A Trip To Jamaica' is expected to be a resounding success like his last movie.
Released in October 2014, AY's produced movie which he also starred in '30 Days in Atlanta' made it into the history books. Despite being met with mixed reviews (another hallmark of Kevin Hart movies), '30 Days in Atlanta' is reportedly became the highest grossing film of all time in Nigerian cinemas.
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A few years ago my former boss told me that there were three major events in Nigeria's entertainment calendar, the Headies, Rhythm Unplugged and AY Live. While Rhythm Unplugged might not be once it was a few years ago, AY Live (AY's annual comedy show) is the biggest comedy show Nigeria till date. It now holds in three other major cities, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and London.
AY Live is more than a comedy show, it is a huge event that brings together comedians, actors and singers. The event shuts down everything else in the entertainment industry on the day it holds. AY Live doesn't follow the traditional format of stand-up comedy. He employs skits featuring popular actors to have his audience laughing and borrows from current events in the country for punchlines. Brands fall over themselves to be a part of the popularity of his shows.
How did AY grow to become one of the biggest humour merchants in Nigeria? The C.E.O of Corporate World Entertainment Nigeria who hails from Ondo but was raised in Delta started off as the personal assistant of legendary Nigerian comedian Ali Baba.
Moving around with Ali Baba must have exposed him to the creative and business side of the comedy game. AY also claims that he gets a lot of jokes from his wife, Mabel Makun.
"You see, to my wife, I am not a comedian. She is even more of the comedian. Because, most of the materials that I use, sometimes, she inspires them,” said AY Makun in a 2015 interview."There are times that I even talk about her. We laugh everywhere. And there are ways to make her laugh in bed" he also added.
AY's career started off properly in 2006 when he started mimicking the Revered Chris Okotie. So quick was his rise that he was given the award for the Best Up-Coming Comedian in Nigeria.
This was to be the start of his now illustrious career. Later on, he would transition into television with his funny skits which featured the hilarious 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' rip-offs. He later switched it up and created the sitcom 'AY's Crib'.
You can just run away from A.Y. On YouTube he has a monster's channel that not only uploads footage shows but popular content such as celebrity weddings. It won't be much of a surprise if his YouTube channel was monetized.
Not only is AY successful he is one of the richest celebrities in Nigeria. Last year he nabbed an endorsement deal with telco GLO and early 2016 he signed another endorsement deal with Peak Milk.
As the serial entrepreneur that he has he even tried his hands in the night club business. In September 2014, he opened MVP Lounge in Lekki Phase 1 but in May 2015 the club was closed down.
"It's not as if MVP has closed down business for good," said AY. "We want to bring in fresh hands to run the place. For us, it's better to close our doors for a while and restrategise than things to get wrong. We need better and able hands to run the lounge" the comedian told Encomium.
A doting father to his daughter Michelle, AY Makun is very much a family man despite what rumours might have you believe. He fawns over his beautiful wife and flaunts her on Instagram regularly.
There is a difference between a famous comedian and a comedian who is a brand. The latter can be used to describe AY. Hardwork, consistency and a drive for excellence has led AY Makun to the top and with a desire to be more he has his sights on being a comedic billionaire.