By Onyinye Ugwu
ECOFEST, the annual comedy festival, the brainchild of ace comedian and compere extraordinaire Tee A, returns for the third straight year this May.
In the last decade, the business of comedy in Nigeria has grown exponentially as it has ceased being a pastime and has become a billion-dollar industry. Nevertheless, it is set to grow even further, especially in the digital age we’re in now.
American comedians like actor Kevin Hart has mastered the act of using technology driven platforms such as instagram, snapchat and OTT services such as Netflix to break boundaries in the comedy business, netting a whopping $15 Million. In the same vain, Dave Chapelle was paid $60 Million for two Netflix specials.
On the contrary, most comedians in Nigeria depend on corporate organizations such as telcos, FMCGs and even government to fund the comedy industry. With a growing middle-class population who have more spending power and access to the internet, it is inconceivable that Nigerian comedians are yet to fully latch on these opportunities like their colleagues abroad.
This year’s theme “The Future of Comedy” is borne out of the desire by organizers to fashion out ways through which stakeholders can sustain an industry that has made millions of Nigerians happy whilst creating creative entrepreneurs eg comedians, skit makers, scriptwriters, event promoters and many others.
ECOFEST will hold over the course of two days and will feature panel discussions, workshops, analyses and spontaneous comedy routines via the open mic session.
The maiden edition of #ECOFEST featured high-profile entertainers such as Teju Babyface, Bovi, Bisi Olatilo, Bunmi Davies, Basorge who headlined the conference when it berthed in May 2017.
The second edition held in May 2018 also played host to major players within and outside the industry including Lepacious Bose, Omo Baba, Koffi, Basket Mouth, as well ANN 2019 Presidential Candidate Fela Durotoye who spoke on the topic: ‘The Role Of Comedy in Nation Building’. Also in attendance were the Lagos State Honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Steve Ayorinde who spoke on: ‘Comedy And Tourism Development’, BHM Group CEO Ayeni Adekunle, Mr. Abisoye Fagade and many more.
Speaking at the last edition, conveyer of the festival, Tee A reflected on the growth path the comedy industry in Nigeria has followed in recent years saying: “How far we have come without government is still how far we can get.” The respected comedian went on to buttress that the industry did not require government money but instead, an enabling environment and the right policies for it to thrive. “Let government do government work, but put in place a policy, that is a policy for the creative space,” he added.
This year, ECOFEST will take place across two locations in Lagos – Nigeria’s cultural and entertainment capital. The venues and activities scheduled for the 2-day event are as follows:
May 2nd – Open Mic at HardRock Café
May 3rd – Conference/ Workshop at the Muson Centre, Onikan
A registration portal for intending participants of the festival is now open on www.ekocomedyfestival.com.
Eko Comedy Festival is proudly supported by the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.