Basketmouth, Buchi, Taaooma, IGoSave talk all things comedy, 'LOL' [Exclusive]
In this interview, the host and cast dive into Prime Video's unscripted African Original.
For its latest show of dedication to its local audience, the global streaming platform has launched its first unscripted African Original titled LOL: Last One Laughing Naija.
Released on July 14, 2023, the project is hosted by one of the biggest names in Nigerian comedy, Bright Okpocha, better known as BasketMouth.
The six-part series is an adaptation of Prime Video’s global hit comedy franchise that has been successful in over 20 countries and territories worldwide, including Canada, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil.
LOL is an unscripted comedy series that sees Basketmouth pit 10 of the best names in comedy against one another. The show follows Okey Bakassi, Acapella, Sabinus, KieKie, Buchi, Dat Warri Girl, Taaooma, Senator, IGoSave, and Gandoki as they compete to be the ‘Last One Laughing’. The winner gets ₦40 million, which will go to a charity of their choice.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse, the host and some of the cast share their thoughts on the exciting show and more:
Choosing the cast
Basketmouth: When the opportunity presented itself, we had criteria for how to select each person and all that. Fortunately, I'm friends with some of the best comedians in Nigeria, but it's not a case of me being friends with them. It's a case of them being able to deliver the goods. I know you will agree with me that they are practically A-class. Then, when we had to go with content creators, we selected practically some of the best we have out there. So, it's based on merit before friendship; for instance, Acapella and I are not close friends the same way IGoSave and Okey Bakassi are, but out of merit, he deserved the spot.
Buchi: I think from the top, the strategy was to kick everyone else out. We had ample time to prepare and come up with whatever you think. Nobody was privy to the other person's preparation and tactics, so you have to bring your A game. For me, I just thought about a couple of things that would be very hard to resist for people to get laughs, comedians or not.
IGoSave: First of all, I knew the people I was going to stay in the same space with. So, in my head, I was already thinking about how to kick everyone out and what to say to make them laugh. I also had in mind that I was going to entertain those watching from home.
Taaooma: It's the same for me. We didn't know exactly who we were going to meet there, but we knew that they were comedians. Since the rule was not to laugh, I knew it was going to be hard, but I just went in there knowing that it was a game, and if I lose, I lose.
The best poker face in the house
Basketmouth: Yeah, Gandoki laughs a lot, even when he is telling a joke, he laughs at his own joke. He is a big threat to every comedian in there. Everyone was expecting him to laugh, but for some reason, the guy came hard.
IGoSave: I expected Bucci and Senator not to laugh. I know Gandoki loves to laugh a lot.
Buchi: For me, it was Gandoki. I thought he would be the first to leave.
Naija format vs other countries
Basketmouth: The interesting thing is that I bumped into a show a while back before they reached me and told me about it. Then I went to watch the other ones. Nigerian comedy is different from the rest of the world, with some similarities here and there but each comedian is designed in his unique way, you see a lot of that on the show. You need to watch other countries to see the difference. Our guys came, and they delivered the goods. Our humour is very organic. I enjoyed every bit of the show. To be honest, I wouldn't have been able to survive in that house. I didn't enjoy watching the other shows as much as I enjoyed ours.
Buchi: It's true. One of the criteria was that you had to watch other countries. I watched two countries and thought, 'This is a drag. Is this what we are going do?' Of course, we think differently, so this is way better than any other country, but maybe it's because I can relate to most of the things we were saying.
What is great comedy?
Basketmouth: Any good joke. I'm not particular about the topic. I'm even more drawn to jokes that are lifted from things that do not have the potential to be funny—things that are dry. If you're able to create phenomenal material from a dry topic, it cracks me up because, as a comedian, once someone is cracking a joke, we are already processing your direction. In Nigeria, 75% of the time we know where the comedian is going. They do it all the time; sometimes Bucci or IGoSave are cracking a joke, and I think I know where they are going, and the next thing I know, they go in a different direction. Those jokes are the ones that destroy me because I didn't see them coming.
Buchi: Great comedy for me is laugh-out-loud comedy; that's it.
IGoSave: I'll laugh at any funny joke. It will crack me up. But it must be organic, not recycled. I love originality and spontaneity. I appreciate it when I see people do it because it takes a great comedian to just come up with something on the spot that can just invoke laughter. That's it for me, but most important is the originality.
Taaooma: For me, any good joke works. I like good jokes that are as considerate as possible.
Current comedy landscape in Nigeria
Basketmouth: It's been static for a while. Stand-up comedy used to be just stand-up comedy when we started doing this thing, but it's different now. It makes me sad that we've come to this point because it's an art. It's like getting on stage to do poetry, going on stage to perform a masterpiece. Comedy is an art.
IGoSave: Comedy has not gotten to where I want to see it, but it's no longer where it used to be. I also believe stand-up comedy is going through a filtration process because some people who claim to be comedians are not doing stand-up comedy. I see them as people taking advantage of the industry to get what they want. We have show promoters who are now stand-up comedians. They are not stand-up comedians, they are still show promoters. They come as comedians in disguise to get other comedians that show promoters are supposed to contact and make payments for their talent and creativity. They take advantage of you and monetise your jokes, all in the name of comedy.
So the filtration process will filter this set of people out. We also have those who go on stage to beg for money and raise funds. I see these things as a big slap to the comedy industry. It's not what I expect to see from some of the new bees, cats, or dogs. They set comedy aback from where I think we took it before, but it will go further than that in no time after the filtration process. It's a self-filtration process.
Taaooma: As he said, comedy is not where we want it to be yet. I know where I want this to go, and everybody else knows where they want it to go. We have a common goal, but we haven't achieved it yet, so we are working hard to get there.
Buchi: At least now, we'll call it an industry. For those of us who started when there was nothing like that, it's a big step. It's an industry now because it's a profession that provides for people. We got here from nothing, from being jesters to having offices and an industry, so I celebrate that. However, we can do more.
The first two episodes of the six-part unscripted comedy series are currently available on the streaming service.
You can expect two episodes of LOL: Last One Laughing Naija every week over the next two weeks.
Watch the trailer:
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