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A Basketful of comedic surprises

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By Helen Herimbi

The annual Stand Up Africa show that puts some of the best stand-up comedians on the continent on one bill, takes place over two days this week. One of the more popular faces, Basketmouth, of Nigeria, spoke to Helen Herimbi

Bright Okpocha, better known around the world as Basketmouth, has been to South Africa a number of times.

The Nigerian comedian was a headliner at the inaugural Stand Up Africa in 2011 and has visited a few Mzansi cities in his spare time, but he hasn’t really found the time to do some touristy things.

So ahead of the Stand Up Africa shows, presented by Podium: The Comedy Merchants, tomorrow and Saturday, we meet at the Apartheid Museum in Joburg. He’s hoping to get a little education about our history and I’m hoping he will let me in on what this big Stand Up Africa surprise is that he has in store for comedy fans.

“I’m going to be performing naked,” he chuckles as we take a breather from the maze of the museum and grab a seat in front of a section of Voortrekker memorabilia.

This lanky funnyman with a dreadlocked mohawk will put on a show alongside Eric Omondi (Kenya), Daliso Chapondo (Malawi), Kagiso Lediga (SA), Salvado (Uganda), Carl Joshua Ncube (Zim) and David Kibuuka (Uganda and SA).

Basketmouth (pictured) puts his hand up: “No, I won’t be naked. Truth is I’m going to do something really crazy for Stand Up Africa, I have a big surprise. In general, my material is quite unpredictable because it relies on spontaneity. It’s not conventional comedy.”

It’s also not the kind of comedy Basketmouth wants to expose his four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter to.

“I tend to be a little explicit in my comedy,” he says, “and I used to take my son with me to my gigs when he was younger because he didn’t understand any of it. Then one day he picked up a pen and starting blabbing on with the pen in front of his mouth, using it as a microphone and mimicking me so I thought, ‘let me wait until he’s like eight years old before I bring him to another show’. But at least he watches me on TV.”

Basketmouth is a mainstay on Nigerian TV as he’s one of the most popular entertainers this side of D’Banj, but he’s also a firm favourite for MTV Base. The continental channel has not only enlisted him to thrill viewers and grill people in the Nigerian VJ search, but he also has his own magazine show, The Big Friday Show. Leaving the one-liners to other comedians, Basketmouth’s style is that of a storyteller.

“I talk about everything, which means I talk about everyone,” he shrugs. “So what I leave on the stage, leaves with the audience afterwards.”

Let’s hope he leaves his clothes on his body.

• Stand Up Africa, Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City, tomorrow, Saturday. R200-R385 at Computicket and box office.

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