Home / Comedy  / Servant of the Most High: Desmond & A Billion Laughs

Servant of the Most High: Desmond & A Billion Laughs

August 5th marked another moment in the trajectory of A Billion Laughs monthly comedy shows. Hosted by Jesta, this event fielded a strong lineup of comics in Deemajor, Ebuka, Chaka and the headline act– Desmond. As usual, it is humour for people looking to escape harsh realities that Nigeria forces its own to behold. In a twist of happenstance, politics ambushed an excited crowd with a biting headline set that lasted over 45 minutes. Reactions ranged from aversion to apathy to receptiveness.


The main act, Desmond, who was introduced as a comedian’s comedian, is slender and passionate about his stories. He bemoans headlines like he’s arguing at the Newspaper stand. Leaving pentecostal swagger behind, Desmond is wide-eyed through complaints and observations. His set confronted our religious festish and political taboos as a people. He crossed funny to provocative at will and then laughed it off with plausible deniability. Deniability has been necessary when discussing politics in Nigeria because moods congeal in tension once it’s brought up. The dust has all but settled after intense rifts created by the last election. The rigging, disenfranchising, tribal instigations, interpersonal schisms and cold wars– all reports as tired as a bag of rice being stolen in China.


Desmond walked the tightrope on religious aggression, insinuating that if Islam is really a religion of peace, they won’t have to say it everytime; it would be self-evident. He explores the business side of churches and then hammers on Pastors and their calculated political neutrality. He talked about how Presidential aspirant Peter Obi isn’t as connected to the youth as the partisan Senator, Prince Ned Okonkwo– who actively sleeps with them. Surely, there can’t be a greater connection than sex? He talked about Eniola Badmus, Seyi Law, Wole Soyinka, Paul Adefarasin– notable figures whose reputation had taken a hit on the world’s town square ‘X’, the platform formerly known as Twitter.


Being ready to hear politically charged jokes translates to a readiness to engage in politics without being swayed by punditry or ‘banger tweets’. A memorable joke he told was about the way we regard candidates as unqualified. Paraphrasing Desmond: “They said Tinubu is violent and his thugs removed someone’s eye. I know, but I still support him. He hasn’t removed my eye.” We, as the audience, completed that sentence with ‘yet’; a callback to Niyi Osundare’s ever-urgent poem “Not My Business”. We roll eyes and purse lips, missing the point.


The satire in these jokes leave them open-ended and in turn– pushes the onus on an impatient audience to dissect and pick a side. A gentle nudge to think for oneselves while facts are being presented in the most absurd way possible. “You say Tinubu is a drug baron and a thief. But that is exactly why he deserved to win. Have you seen the kind of debt Nigeria owes? Only drug money can offset that.” He says, to groans mixed with laughter. Our refusal to accept a comic’s approach to political issues, yet tuning in with bated breath to TV programs and social media pundits like Seun Okin, and Oseni Rufai– whose opinions sometimes force us to roll our eyes knowing their views might be fraught of integrity. We engage then, but aren’t so giddy when tables are turned for us to draw conclusions.


It seemed the audience wanted to box Desmond and ascertain what he truly believes before they decided to be invested. Desmond’s set is observatory in technique, but in intention hammers on independent thought. However, this path of independence, and drawing conclusions is a balancing act when every individual’s independence is taken into account. We might hear things we do not like because people will think differently from us. But integrity remains the one quality that cannot be debated within conversations like these.


Desmond, the comedian as well, isn’t removed from his own observations. He invokes twitter “drags” multiple times as he name drops celebrity pastors and public figures. He acknowledges it as an outsider, however, acknowledgement wouldn’t be done if the platform didn’t hold sway on his person and leanings, no matter how little. The larger picture presents a frame where everyone struggles to separate truth from facts, facts from beliefs and beliefs from ideals. Because only from ideals can we truly bring about change.


While general reaction towards these well-researched but controversial jokes are nonplussed; proscribed even. A lady who had been involved and cackling from the jump practically zoned out when politics and religion became the topic. She ignored Desmond’s set to swipe TikTok at a comparably low volume. Other attendees opted for more polite resistance, they “oooh’d” and “ahhh’d” when the jokes hit too close to home. The nervous chuckles and seat shifting was limited to a few of the audience however, the ones that got it, got it.


This set couldn’t have come from any other comic that has something to lose. The A-listers have cushioned palms to receive fat envelopes, even his peers wouldn’t want to lose gigs hosting red and black carpet galas. Conversations that should ideally be held onstage are relegated to cooler-side talks: limited to living and back rooms. Just behind the comedy clubs since saying it onstage will rock boats.


It raises a big question: how bad do things have to get before our political choices creep into the spaces we seek for escapism? Before the preacher detours from revival prayers to presidential candidates, or the DJ broaches the au courant between transitions of Ojapiano beats? How far then, before we start to reject skits we consume online based on the consciousness of it. Till we say “This is shallow. It is comedy for comedy sake and it has nothing to offer.” How far is too far before politics follows us to sleep, to chill, and to break bread with friends.


W.B Yeats, in a post world war 2 poem talks about the symptoms a declining society exhibits just before everything falls apart.

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”

When is our Second Coming? And can we measure our readiness for change with the required openness to receive harsh truths? The conveners of A Billion Laughs think it is time, the audience yet, still drag its feet.



Read more reviews and pieces about culture and art on The Blotted. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @onetinyblot


  • Akintomide August 13, 2023

    Totally enjoyed reading this.

  • Eghaghe Desmo August 14, 2023

    A rare privilege to be featured, and I particularly enjoyed the honest take
    Way to go Omoalokan ????????