– Speaks on show, family, career and future
One of Africa’s biggest comedy exports, Bright Okpocha, better known as Basketmouth, has enjoyed a stellar career, littered with blessings.
He has risen from the early days while studying at the University of Benin, Edo state to become a true entertainment colossus, not just in Nigeria, but Africa.
In this exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he talks about the recently-held Lord of the Ribs show, his family, career and his future…
Congratulations on the success of your Lord of the Ribs show. How did it go from your end?
Thank you. Sincerely, we put a whole lot into the planning and execution of the show. We had amazing media partners and sponsors. The support was overwhelming and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, God has always come through as partial to me, this time as always.
There is a sense of fulfillment one gets from watching a brainchild do well. Can you capture that feeling in words?
With all honesty, I can’t really capture it in words. It’s beyond words.
Did it meet or surpass your expectation?
Above and beyond.
What has the feedback been since the show?
There’s been so much positive feedback, it makes one feel like you’re doing something right. Like all our concerts, we were very particular about timing, especially, as the day after was a work day. The show kicked off at 6.55pm as against our 7pm start time, the comedy was intense. We had A-list musicians turn out to support and more important, we had a happy audience, and that makes it all worth it.
How much work and resources went into staging a show as grand as Lord of the Ribs? Must be huge!
While I won’t state figures, it’s actually very expensive both in human resources and funding, to put together a concert, especially one of this magnitude. Most times, it’s a challenge to simply breakeven. However, the core reason for these shows is more to provide quality entertainment and pure comedy to a fan base who have been solidly behind me through the years.
How has the show evolved and improved over the years?
Truth is, we are our own competitor, constantly striving to surpass our previous projects. We live and we learn, we try as much as possible to be fluid and open to change. I have been blessed with a professional team and we are always in sync, always proactive and our plan B is always as good, if not better than our plan A . The shows over the years have improved. From it’s conceptualization to execution, Lords of the Ribs 2015 has been our best show so far. So it clearly states that we are doing better. However, there is always room for improvement.
What additions will you be making in the next edition to take the show to the next level?
We intend to have bigger international acts on the bill, I am currently in talks with my partners, working on names like Dave Chappelle, Katt Williams, Demon Williams and more. We definitely will improve on a lot of things while maintaining our key partners like Comedy Central. We will also partner other top brands to bring the best at every point.
What do you regard as the high point of your career over a decade?
My life almost feels like a string of little coincidences orchestrated to form big successes, but in reality, I know that my steps are just ordered by God. So the fact that I’m still here, still relevant, is my highest point every day.
I am also truly grateful to God for platforms like the MTV Base Big Friday show, hosting This Day Music Festival, my comedy shows in different parts of the world, hosting Comedy Central Presents in South Africa, performing at the Comedy Store in LA, performing at Just For Laughs Festival to my annual tours, it’s just been amazing.
Any low points so far?
I don’t have low points, just learning curves.
10 months in, how has 2015 been for you?
My best year yet.
On a personal level, what do you still hope to achieve before the year runs out?
Experience has taught me a valuable and humbling lesson – to realize that each day is truly a gift and some of the greatest blessings I’ve had, I could never have thought of. Having said that, I really look forward to hosting the Comedy Central International Festival alongside Trevor Noah, Jeff Ross and many more, among other exciting projects lined up.
As a family man, business owner and entertainer, how do you strike a balance to ensure that none of your roles is neglected?
My job is demanding, very demanding, but I have the most supportive family ever, and I don’t take that for granted. It’s also all about planning and keeping priorities in check. I travel a lot but whenever I am back home, I am home and when I’m not, I am all up in their faces literally – from Facetime to IMO, phone calls, Skype and the whole works (laughs).
How much of a family man are you, on a scale of one to 10?
Scale? I broke the scale!
What are the most important things to you?
My life, my family, my career, my health, my focus, my drive and, most important, the fear of God. It’s a long list!
How would you describe being married as a popular celebrity?
I have never been married as a non celebrity, so I don’t know how it is on the other side. But considering the fact that some men in the corporate and business world also have to deal with highly demanding jobs, I am pretty sure it’s about the same thing, once there is love, understanding and friendship.
How do you protect your home from all the media frenzy and ensure it doesn’t get to you?
I just keep them away from the media as much as I can.
What’s the next step for you in your career now?
Same thing, pushing hard to keep the brand up there, remaining relevant and in demand, taking my brand further into the international market and staying fresh.
Would you say you are fulfilled as a comedian?
I am nowhere near being fulfilled, this is still a warm up. More like a rehearsal to the main event. I have not gotten to where I want to be but I know I am on the path to that dream.
As a celebrity in the spotlight, you’ve over the years been involved in some controversies, how do you handle them?
I just wait it out, it will come and it must go. I have a thick skin, as long as I know my heart is pure before God, I know I am good to go.
You are one of the most followed Nigerians on social media, what do you think is your pulling factor?
I have been privileged to have people love and appreciate what I do. Na God.
Some are speculating that you and fellow comedian, AY are not on talking terms considering also he doesn’t attend or perform at your shows. How true or otherwise is this?
It’s really all speculation. I maintain a good relationship with all my colleagues and it’s really not feasible to feature every comedian on my shows. If that were the criteria, it would be fair to say I am not on talking terms with Gordons, Julius Agwu, Basorge, Seyi Law to mention a few, as they have not featured at my shows recently.
What’s your one wish from God that He’s yet to grant?
God has granted me everything I desire, a great family, a growing career, health, life and more, it will only get better, I am sure He will increase it when I am strong enough to handle it.
- MICHAEL NWOKIKE