Not only is the much-needed patronage pouring into the stand-up comedy business in Nigeria as we speak. It has produced many aspiring and successful content creators, social media influencers, skilled actors/actresses, and ace comedians like Basketmouth. Their individual and combined creative works have propelled Nigerian comedians into the realm of millionaires and billionaires today.
We will be highlighting the journey of A-list comedian and actor, Basketmouth, to stardom in this article. Basketmouth has long left the borders and shores of Nigeria into continental (and perhaps global) stardom with his music, acting, and comedy skills. He was a hustler for quite a long time. And his hustle was eventually rewarded.
Stand-Up Comedy: Where It All Began
Who ever knew the standup comedy industry in Nigeria would grow to become as illustrious, money-spinning industry as it now is? It had uncertain and not-so-glamorous beginnings. From hilarious on-air personalities (like Mazi Mperempe of Radio Nigeria) of the 1970s; to well-known comedian, John Chukwu of the 1980s. And the popular Nigerian TV comedy actors and actresses that emerged right from the 1950s – the likes of ‘Baba Sala’, ‘Samanja’, ‘Chief Zebrudaya’ and his group; ‘Aluwe’; and so many others. They were enjoyed but not much rewarded – indeed, comedy projects lacked sponsorship for years.
Big thanks to the dogged visionaries in the Nigerian entertainment world, who laid the foundation of stand-up comedy in Nigeria. We are speaking of top Nigerian comedian, Ali Baba and show promoter, Opa Williams. They pushed the frontiers of stand-up comedy in the late 1980s. They saw ahead into the potential of stand-up comedy becoming a huge investment arena that it has become in Nigeria today. And the famous Basketmouth is one of their testimonies.
Let’s Meet Basketmouth: His Background
Bright Okpocha, who goes by the stage name Basketmouth, is a talker with a difference. His mouth is his gold mine. Multi-talented Basketmouth is a drummer, rapper, musician, comedian, actor, show organizer, and media executive all rolled into one. He is well-known for his popular standup comedy concert, namely Basketmouth Uncensored (amongst others); which he promotes across the country and worldwide. He also promotes several online comedy challenges (such as the once-controversial #TwoThingsChallenge), and television shows (such as Last One Laughing). He has long been a hustler, and today he is one of the richest entertainers and top comedians in Nigeria.
Born in September 1978 in Lagos, Basketmouth is an indigene of Abia State (southeast Nigeria). His mother is Felicia Okpocha; not much is known about his father. He has two siblings – an elder brother named Godwin Okpocha (a visual artist) and a younger sister, Lenora Okpocha.
Basketmouth completed both his primary and secondary education in schools located in Apapa area of Lagos (names undisclosed). However, he graduated from the University of Benin, Edo State, with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. His elder brother also attended the same university.
Basketmouth: His Debut as a Musician
Basketmouth reportedly started as a skilled drummer in 1991. In 1994, he began to explore his talent as a rapper. Thus, he and his friends formed the 7-member group named Da Psychopaths in 1995; and they went about performing rap songs at shows. However the group could not hold together; they disbanded the same year without releasing any song.
Then he formed another rap group named Da Oddz with his elder brother Godwin, and another friend named Muyiwa Ola-Phillips. The second group was not successful either. Although they were able to perform a few shows, their brand of rap was not well accepted back then.
Many years later, Basketmouth returned a bit more successfully to his original music origins. And this time, he explored Highlife – as we shall soon see.
Basketmouth Breaks Into the Comedy Scene
While experimenting with his passion for rap music at the university, Basketmouth began to reveal his comedy edge as well. He started as a comedian in 1995 (the same year that he formed his first rap group). Three years later, someone advised him to take his comedy skills to the big stage; he was still at the University of Benin. Acting on that advice, he finally started professional stand-up comedy. Suffice it to say, it was not yet very rewarding at that time.
But in the year 2000, Basketmouth was in Lagos to perform at a concert tagged ‘Hanging Out With The Home Boys’. The audience was thrilled with his performance. And from that point henceforth, more people demanded his comedy performances. Basketmouth was also amongst the crop of upcoming comedians who featured frequently at Opa Williams’ show, the annual Nite of a Thousand Laughs (which began in 1995).
In 2001, the ace comedian started hosting his annual one-man stand-up comedy show in Lagos. And then Basketmouth took it to the Indigo2 arena in the United Kingdom in 2008, where he sold out the tickets. His later comedy shows hosted at Hammersmith Apollo and the Wembley Arena were also totally sold out. He also performed at other comedy festivals, which included Montreaux Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs, and Comedy Stand-Up Africa.
Basketmouth’s propensity for organizing successful showbiz events is also phenomenal. He once hosted This Day Music Concert that featured popular American music artists. Big names like Busta Rhymes, Jay Z, Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, Akon, Sean Paul, Wyclef Jean, Cool and the Gang, Beyonce, Fat Joe, Snoop Dogg, Ciara, and Chris Brown showed up at the show (amongst others). Yet again, he hosted other hilarious shows which included Comedy Central Special, Comedy Central’s Ridiculousness, and The MTV Base Big Friday Show.
Basketmouth As An Actor
Basketmouth started to feature in Nigerian soap operas even before he became a full-time comedian. He continues to take up acting roles to date. For instance, Basketmouth starred in the well-known Africa Magic television series titled My Flatmates in 2016. He has also been featured in one of his latest projects, the comedy web series titled Baba Benji (which started in December 2020).
He also featured in the hugely successful Nollywood cinematic movie, The Brotherhood in 2022 (alongside popular celebrities Falz, Tobi Bakre, and OC Ukeje).
The Return of Basketmouth to Music
Basketmouth appeared in veteran Nigerian musician, Lagbaja’s music video for the song ‘Gra Gra’ in the year 2000.
Thereafter, the comedian established his own music record label in 2014, namely the Barons World Entertainment Record Label. Thereafter, he released his first Highlife music album titled Yabasi. The album featured well-known Nigerian music artists which included Waje, Flavour N’abania, BEZ, The Cavemen, BOJ, Ladipoe, Phyno, and Duncan Mighty, amongst others. Again, the soundtrack of Yabasi was used in the comedy web series Baba Benji in 2020.
Yet again in 2022, Basketmouth released his second album titled Horoscope, which featured some top Nigerian artists. They include Peruzzi, Oxlade, Johnny Drille, Simi, Flavour N’abania, M.I Abaga, Buju, Reekado Banks, Illbliss, Dremo, Flaz, and Magnito.
Additionally, Basketmouth also produced concerts for famous Nigerian singers, Asa (in May 2022) and Adekunle Gold (in December 2022) respectively, under his Barons World Entertainment record label.
Basketmouth’s notable songs include the following tracks:
- Assembly of Gods
- Leave Me
- Love and Life
- The Traveller
- Papa Benji
- Pepper Soup
- World People
- Ride or Die
- One Bo
- Ghana Jollof
- Your Body
Basketmouth: Industry Awards
The ace comedian has earned the following industry awards to date:
- National Comedy Award: Best Stand-up Comedian of the Year (2005 and 2006)
- Pan-African Comic of the Year (2017)
Basketmouth: Net Worth (2024)
Over the years, Basketmouth entered into some juicy endorsements with top brands as well. They include Dana Air, Surebet, and Globacom. He also owns many real estate properties. Combined with earnings from his music, comedy skits, stand-up comedy performances, and organizing of shows, his portfolio is quite hefty. Information obtained from Forbes, Wikipedia, IMDb, and some other online resources reveals that Basketmouth is estimated to be worth at least 27 million US Dollars (as of 2024).
Basketmouth: His Personal Life
Basketmouth got married to Elsie Uzoma Okpocha in November 2010, but they got divorced in December 2022. Basketmouth was intensely guarded about the reasons for the divorce; to the point of asking his fans to respect their privacy. They had three children.
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