FULL NAME: Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome
STAGE NAME : Ali Baba or Alibaba
NET WORTH : Alibaba is estimated to be worth N3 billion
DATE OF BIRTH: Born on the 24th of June, 1965
OCCUPATION: Nigerian stand-up comedian and actor
MARITAL STATUS: Married
CHILDREN : Has five children
EDUCATION : Attended Bendel State University now Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma AAU
Born Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome but famously recognized by his code name Ali Baba, is a Nigerian stand-up comedian and actor. He is one of the most sought after Nigerian stand-up comedian and the unofficial founding father of Stand-up comedy in Nigeria. Ali Baba started comedy back in the days when there were only few people in the business and it wasn’t paying off that much. He become one of the best and mentor to many big names in the comedy business.
Early Life, Background And Education
Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere whose stage name is Ali Baba was born into a Royal Family in Agbarha Otor, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta state. Ali Baba is the first son after several girls. The ace comedian spent the first 8 years of his life in Warri (Delta State, Nigeria). His biological father was a gallant soldier who served in Lagos but now retired. He completed his primary and secondary school education at Ojo Primary School and Command Secondary School both in Lagos. After his basic education, he furthered at Ibru College in Agbarha-Otor and then went on to study at Bendel State University now known as the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma AAU where he bagged a degree in Religious Studies And Philosophy.
Career Beginning And Professional Career
After obtaining a degree from the then Bendel State University, Ekpoma AAU in 1990, he moved down to Lagos to pursue a career in comedy properly. He discovered his comic talent in his third year in University and planned to return to Ekpoma to read Law but that path was not made to happen in his life because he discovered that he could make clean cash by just making people laugh and forget their worries.
His professional comedy career kicked off at after appearing on corporate events, television shows along side Patrick Doyle, Charly Boy and Danladi Bako. He also made appearances on radio shows with Bisi Olatilo, Sani Irabor and Mani Onumonmu. He also had a stint with Dapo Adelegan of DP Lekki Limited as executive assistant in 1991. His determination was so persistent as he was passionate about enhancing himself, improve his skill and becoming the first professional comedian from this part of the world. In those days when he launched his comedy career only few people were funny and they were not into Stand-up comedy. They only funny people we have in those days were the likes of Patrick Doyle, John Chukwu, Bisi Olatilo, Femi Segun, Femi Jarret, Leo Onwudi, Smart Otemu, Tony St. Iyke and a few more of them but they were not into full-time comedy because they weren’t aware of the benefit that comes with it.
After working very hard for a long time to create a brand and a niche for himself, at last he was able to carved out a niche for himself as a comedian for both corporate and non-corporate events. He became so professional that he could make rules , broke them and sometimes even discarded them depending on how effective they were. Four years into his career , he became the most sought after in the business and tagged Master of Ceremony. You would easily agree with me that no event is considered complete without a Comedian to MC the event these days .
He gradually and progressively grew bigger and better each day that passes by, he registered his company Alibaba Hicuppuray 3rd in 1993 and he made sure that comedy becomes a professional career . In 1998, he hired billboards in strategic parts of Lagos Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island; Osborne Road, Ikoyi and the Marina paying for two years. The message was simple and one he has come to be known by Being Funny is Serious Business. Ali Baba as the top and most respected Nigerian comedy merchant is of the opinion that the comedy business he founded is a big industry that is wide open for all who want to make their chosen profession. He has supported, mentored and presented several comedians helping to ensure that standards are maintained and professionalism encouraged.
Comedy is one of the most lucrative segment of entertainment today and comedians are generally known to charge impressive fees for events. The Comedy Industry is growing fast and strong to the credit of the God Father of Comedy , almighty king of comedy named Ali Baba. He has spent over twenty years in comedy business and still counting because he is not considering retirement any time soon.
According to the ace comedian, he said that he started making his millions as a stand-up comedian in the late 90’s when the profession was still in its developing stage in the country. He also disclosed that comedy business started paying off when people knew little about the profession.
In a recent chat with Vanguard, he said ;
“When I got my first endorsement and I was paid about N82,000, someone who saw me with the cheque asked what I do for a living and when I said I am a comedian he was baffled.
“The person did not even have an idea that I had got an endorsement from Guinness Nigeria Plc that was worth about N1.2 million. We don’t need to shout over this.
“The pay from show business is pronounced because some of the younger ones now flaunt their wealth unduly,’’ .
“I still crack jokes but people won’t see me on the platform they are used to.
“I will be 30 years on stage next year, so I have moved on from the platform people used to see me. I have to leave the platform for upcoming actors.
“It is like a bank structure where there is a cashier attending to costumers, after 20 years you don’t expect to see that cashier still counting money behind the counter.
“When I started, it was only Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), now we have many television stations and radio stations so the platform is bigger and wider,’’ the ace comedian said.
Ali Baba told NAN that he was more into mentoring budding entertainers on the business side of showbiz.
“It is important that you develop your talent, when talent becomes a service that is when people will require it. Nobody will buy a talent if it is not for service.
“I teach other comedians to be humble, focused and think ahead. I expect that others should beat my strides.
“My strides are like foundation for a lot of comedians to grow with but with recent technology, the platform is now wider and accommodating,’’ he said.
Recognition And Achievements
Ali Baba was officially inducted into the Johnny Walker “Striding Man” Society in 2009, this body only welcome men who have achieved great strides in their chosen fields of endeavour and use their talent to give back to the society by motivating and encouraging them to strive and become whatever they want to become in life. In 2012, he became the first Nigerian Comedian to ring the Year End Closing Bell of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he is also a Special Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps and was featured on CNN’s African voices in 2015.
Family And Personal life
The comedian is happily married to Mary-Bassey Udoh and the union is cemented with five children, three Daughters, Xsara first child, Brandi second child, a set of twin boys Ejiro third child and Tejiri fourth child and Valerie fifth child. Alibaba is an Entertainer, a Comedian, Master of Ceremonies, Radio Show Host, Motivational Speaker, Photographer, Writer and has a strong flair for Creating and Developing Ideas.
- My Guy (1998)
- The Last 3 Digits (2014)
- Head Gone (2014)
- The Wedding Party (2016)
- Alakada (2017)
Awards And Accolades
- Laughter Incorporated the category of Immense contribution to the comedy industry in 2002
- Achievers Merit Award from Delta State University
- Pendulum Awards LASU National Association of Physics Student in the category of Icon of Comedy in 2004
- Laughter Awards – Baziks Theatre Abuja in 2001 in the category of Outstanding Performance
- City People Entertainment award for the invaluable contribution to the Entertainment Industry in 2006
- Enablers Merit Award from RCCG in 2007
- The News Diamond Award for helping the growth & development of the Comedy Industry in Nigeria in 2008.
- 1st Nigeria Entertainment Awards in the category of Icon of Comedy in 2004
- National Comedy Award by the Comedy Enterprise in 2005
- Eric’s Entertainment Inc for the Recognition of his solid support to young entrepreneurs in 2006
- Award of Excellence from the Lagos State University in 2006
- (Again) City People Entertainment award for the invaluable contribution to the Entertainment Industry in 2008.
- National Daily Award for the category of the Comedian of the decade in 2009.
- Comedy for Change award in commemoration of his 20th year on stage in 2010.
SOURCE: Bionetworth.com,ng and Vanguard