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DeeMajor Plays Host to Lagos Stand-Up Comedy Circuit in Rendezvous

The Lagos famous Bogobiri house teemed with faces on Sunday, the 31st of July as comedian DeeMajor, real name Onuorah David Ositadimma, showcased his colleagues in the budding Nigerian stand-up comedy circuit. As it holds once every two months, this edition of Rendezvous featured a long list of talents. Almost 15 comedians performed short sets, dipping their feet into improv. This type of melting pot blows any form of thematic endeavour out of the water. But it is not necessarily a bad thing. An opportunity like this presents comedians a platform to reach into their joke pouches to make great first impressions. After all, this is DeeMajor’s crowd that are in attendance. And his VIPs who happen to play a big role in the show. More on that later.


The comedians Deemajor brought along to this edition of Rendezvous were a mish mash of semi-seasoned and newer acts. It is difficult to tell when the show started because the warmups transitioned to the main event seamlessly. Makinde David and ChimeFrancis played host while DeeMajor ran around to sort out planning and logistics. The duo performed random bitesized jokes– even going as far as bringing up EndSars protests eliciting nervous chuckles from the crowd. But we were not the only ones nervous, the performers themselves were unsure of how the crowd would receive jokes on this topic. Their attempts did not bring comedic insight, and neither Makinde nor Jimmy committed to the planned routine, backlash be damned. 


Rendezvous rolled through comedian after comedian, acts after personas. The recalcitrant, reluctant Oghene who complained all the way carries his memorable set with candour. Joshua King from Benin has an experienced old-school composure. Timi Adetayo affirms himself unique with only seven minutes of performance. His demeanor, big lips, weighty delivery and drawl gives him a pentecostal swagger. He knows this too. His Bishop Oyedepo’s impression is spot on. It is interesting to discover that a lot of these performers are alumni of Covenant University. Ebuka, who is also a Covenant graduate tried his Oyedepo impression later on. What hell could they have been going through in that school to create such a thriving comedy club? Surely, this is a coping mechanism.


Comics like Phage, Ebuka, Makinde David are usual suspects that I have seen live in recent shows. Strengthening their artistry with each passing event. Emechidera’s charming lawyerly affectations make up for his jokes that refuse to hit the spot. DeeMajor, the Unilag undergraduate, who convened the show, shines freebasing with the crowd. He has a scowl for a resting face, and it is difficult to tell when he’s serious or not. The humor is unique, and he prowls his set for potential activities he can draw attention to. These guys are young and they bring a fresh perspective to the Nigerian standup comedy formula. This is an active circuit.


The major sponsors of the event, Mr. Tayo Shonuga of Haven Homes came with his family. Same for a set of people I would believe represent the management of Buzz’n’Bhangs who do not hesitate to throw wads of two hundred naira notes at the performers, injecting a spin of spontaneity to the show. Both VIPs were major participanats in the show, as their presence was a reflective wall for comedians to bounce their jokes off of.


FunnyUrch from Aba, who is dressed like an adolescent pastor in a church drama performed for just six minutes and was one of the most memorable acts of the night. He did not tell jokes per se, only exchanged energy with members of the audience. He mumbles his thoughts and abandons sentences midway through them. He is disheveled, he is confused— the persona is desperate and his audacity makes it funnier. FunnyUrch was actually the first to incite cash spraying that provided much needed freestyle jokes through the night.


Rendezvous shines the best at improv and freestyles. All four people who sat in front were made into urgent topics for witty jabs. It is the allure that lies with thinking on the feet that will make one appreciate the craft of stand-up comedy. Rendezvous offers lots of it. But while the show excels at freestyling, it falters in the department of fresh writing and unique perspective. The only performance that remotely brought variety to the program was by Tri Clowns. A trio of comics from Ikorodu who put more energy in their stage presence than the jokes. It wasn’t that the comics were not funny. They were. But the tightness of the writing, the howlers, the buildup from most comedians were absent; and therein lies the red line that separates a good comedy show from a great one.


When I started writing this review, I found it difficult to know what angle or perspective to focus on. And later, I resolved to review on the basis of cohesiveness around the whole show. This involves taking into consideration not only the jokes and loudness of laughter at different moments in the program— but the overall planning and execution of it.


I hurried out of my house by 4:12 for a show slated for 4pm. I arrived an hour and 25 minutes later and was relatively early. By 5:35, the crew were adding final touches that’ll help smoothen the experience. Some of the audience had arrived at this point, mingling in the waiting room. The technical guys were finishing up their mic check in a hall adorned for a special event.


Some crew members talked about a duality in the causal promotion of the show, and how seemingly elaborate the event looked in person. The VIP tables were dressed, wine bottles waiting for the important people. Lighting was jovial with flashes of red and blue and the ambience was ready for comedy. Most things were put in place. Safe for the stage which lacked any promotional material for Rendezvous. No flyer, no rollup banner– just a red cloth wound together to cover a drab plastered wall behind the stage. Joshua King points attention to this, calling it a ritual procession, and tying back to the incessant spraying of money done at the event. 


But the crowd did not care, people showed up in droves with their partners. The missed opportunity for optics just lessens the content repertoire DeeMajor would have to remember the event by. However, time management became a big issue as the night matured. While opening acts blitzed through their performances, later comedians relaxed to a halt. The show ran beyond 10 o clock, a whole six hours after the slated time and a grumpy HPrince refused to hand over the mic and let DeeMajor round up. Showing personality is nice, but at this point it comes across as disregard for the audience’s time.


For newcomers just getting into this circuit, it is easy to miss some gems that shows just how bright and sharp these young minds can be even in conversations among themselves. There is an overload of inside jokes from, by, and for the performers. Rendevous almost feels like a comedian bringing his colleagues to hangout, and inviting the audience to play as third wheels. In fact, this is what it is. A meeting among members in the circuit. DeeMajor refers to the show a couple of times as his ‘platform’, but never an event or occasion. As good a time that night at Bogobiri was, Rendezvous is a display of untapped potential in stand-up comedy, but potential still.


Oyedele Alokan writes and edits for theblotted. Engage on Instagram @omoalokan.