Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere, stage name Ali Baba, is one of the most sought after Nigerian stand-up comedian and the father of Stand-up comedy in Nigeria.
Ali Baba, real name Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere was born in Warri, Delta State, on June 24th 1965 to the Royal Family of Agbarha Otor, Ughelli North Local Government Area. The first son after several girls. He spent the first 8 years of his life in Warri.
His father is a retired soldier who served in Lagos. Schooling therefore was at Ojo Primary School and Command Secondary School both in Lagos.
He furthered his education at Ibru College in Agbarha-Otor and then went on to the now rested Bendel State University now known as the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma where he read Religious Studies & Philosophy.
Comedy And Broadcasting Career
Ali Baba discovered his comic talent in his 3rd year in University and relocated to Lagos after acquiring his degree. Although, he planned to return to Ekpoma to read Law but since he discovered he could make more money from making people laugh than defending them he didn’t press further.
He began his professional career with corporate events, appearing on television shows with the likes of Patrick Doyle, Charly Boy and Danladi Bako. He also made cameo appearances on radio shows with Bisi Olatilo, Sani Irabor and Mani Onumonmu. He also worked briefly with Dapo Adelegan of DP Lekki Limited as executive assistant in 1991.
He had made up his mind that he was going to do everything to enhance himself, improve his skill and the service he offered in other words be professional. However at the time there was hardly any precedent to follow because the funny men then were not into stand up comedy. Patrick Doyle, John Chukwu, Bisi Olatilo, Femi Segun, Femi Jarret, Leo Onwudi, Smart Otemu, Tony St. Iyke and many more were funny, very funny but did not do full time comedy.
Ali Baba then succeeded in carving a niche for himself as a comedian for both corporate and non-corporate events and in less than 4 years, he had also become the preferred Master of Ceremony at some events. Ali Baba made the rules, broke them and sometimes even discarded them depending on how effective they were. These days no event is considered complete without a Comedian to MC that event.
In 1993, he registered his company Alibaba Hicuppuray 3rd and from then on his focus was on ensuring that the perception of comedians being ‘ne’er do wells’ changed and instead is seen as a profession and a respected way of life.
In 1998, he hired billboards in strategic parts of Lagos Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island; Osborne Road, Ikoyi and the Marina paying for two years. The message was simple and one he has come to be known by ‘Being Funny is Serious Business’.
He was inducted into the Johnny Walker ‘Striding Man’ Society in 2009 which recognizes men who have achieved great strides in their chosen fields of endeavour and who share the strides they have taken to motivate and encourage others.
In 2012, he was the first Nigerian Comedian to ring the Year End Closing Bell of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he is also a Special Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps and was featured on CNN’s African voices in 2015.
He won the Diamond Award For Comedy in 2008 for helping the growth & development of the Comedy Industry in Nigeria. In 2004 he won the 1st Nigeria Entertainment Awards as an Icon of comedy, in 2009 the City People Entertainment award for his invaluable contribution to the entertainment industry, he walked away as the comedian of the decade in 2009 at the National Daily Award.
He was honoured by the Comedy for Change in commemoration of his 20 years on stage and the list is endless.