Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome popularly known as Ali Baba is a Nigerian stand-up comedian, actor, television host,compere and media personality. He’s one of the pioneers of stand-up comedy in Nigeria. Ali Baba has been pegged the “king of comedy” in Nigeria. He has been a professional stand-up comedian for over 30 years.
Early life and background of Ali Baba
Ali Baba was born on the 24th of June, 1965 to the royal family of Agbarha Otor in Warri, Delta State. He is the first son amongst many children. He spent his first eight years in Warri before relocating to Lagos due to his father’s nature of job. His father was a retired soldier who served in Lagos state. For his elementary education, he attended Ojo primary school in Lagos state before proceeding to Command Secondary School for his secondary education.
On completion of his secondary education, he went ahead to bag a degree in Religious Studies & Philosophy from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Edo state. After graduating in 1990, he moved to Lagos in search of greener pastures. Initially, he wanted to study law but fate had better things in store for him.
His Rise to Fame
Ali Baba discovered his comedic talent while studying at the then Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University). He kick-started his professional career by performing at corporate events, appearing on television shows with the likes of Charly Boy, Patrick Doyle and Danladi Bako. He made cameo appearances on radio shows with Bisi Olatilo, Sani Irabor and Mani Onumonmu.
In 1991, he had a brief stint as an executive assistant to Dapo Adelegan of DP Lekki Limited. He later quit the job to focus on his comedy career. With guts, determination and sacrifice, Ali Baba worked hard to enhance his comedy skills thus making it more professional. Through creative dynamism and hardwork, the popular comedian has carved a niche for himself in both corporate and non-corporate events. Over time, he has become the preferred Master of Ceremony at many high social events in Nigeria. It’s no surprise that he’s the highest paid comedian in the country.
1993 saw him registering his company “Alibaba HIcuppuray 3rd” , a platform for training and showcasing new generations of comedians in Nigeria. That same year, he erected three billboards tagged “Ali Baba — Being Funny is Serious Business” in strategic locations in Lagos- Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island; Osborne Road, Ikoyi; and Marina. That action triggered the transformation of comedy business in Nigeria. Ali Baba has mentored, supported and trained a number of upcoming comedians thus helping them to ensure that professionalism is encouraged and standards are maintained.
Besides comedy, the ace comedian has dipped his toes in the waters of Nigerian movie industry. He has featured in a couple of movies like The Last 3 Digits, The Wedding Party, Alakada amongst others.
Through his comic prowess and efforts, he has bagged endorsement deals with reputable companies. He once bagged an endorsement with a multinational company worth N100 million for two years.
Ali Baba’s Relationship and Family Life
The veteran comedian is married to Mary Akpobome and they are blessed with five lovely children.
Awards and Recognition
The professional standup comedian has clinched several awards both locally and internationally.
Outstanding Performance at the Laughter Awards (2001)
Immense contribution to the comedy Industry at the Laughter Incorporated (2002)
Achievers Merit Award, Delta State University (2003)
Icon of Comedy at the Pendulum Awards, LASU (2004)
Icon of Comedy, 1st Nigeria Entertainment Awards (2004)
Comedy Enterprise, National Comedy Award (2005)
Recognition of his solid support to young entrepreneurs, Eric’s Entertainment Inc (2006)
Award of Excellence, Lagos State University (2006)
Invaluable contribution to the Entertainment Industry, City People Entertainment (2006)
Enablers Merit Award. RCCG (2007)
Award for turning stand up comedy into a viable business, The News (2008)
Award for growth & development of the Comedy Industry in Nigeria at the Diamond Award for Comedy (2008)
Invaluable contribution to the Entertainment Industry, City People Entertainment (2008)
Comedian of the decade, National Daily Award (2009)
Award in commemoration of his 20 years on stage, Comedy for Change (2010)
In recognition of men who have achieved great success in their chosen career and are sources of encouragement to others, Ali Baba was inducted into the Johnnie Walker Striding Man Society in 2009.
In 2012, he rang the Year End Closing Bell of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the first Nigerian comedian to do so.
He is also a Special Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
In March 2015, Ali Baba was featured on CNN African Voices. He spoke about his goal to professionalize and gain acceptance for Nigerian comedians.
For his contribution to the Nigerian Comedy industry, he was honoured by Rotary International with the Paul Harris Fellowship.
Ali Baba’s Net Worth
Ali Baba, a colossus in the art of comedy is the wealthiest comedian in Nigeria. He’s estimated to be worth N3 billion Naira.
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