For young comedian, Amponsah Obarima Akuoko popularly known as OB, it was a joy to share jokes with his mates back in school but little did he know that after spending many years at the University of Cape Coast ( UCC) to train as an Optometrist, he would end up putting smiles on the faces of people as a comedian.
Well, that is the story of the twenty something year old native of Agona Asaaman in the Ashanti Region, who disputed the perception that comedy is not for the highly educated.
That obviously has been his “lifeline” since he joined forces with other young comedians to lead the crusade in boosting Ghanaian comedy about two years ago.
When Showbiz caught up with the comedian at the Watborg Eye Services at Senya Bereku where he practices full time as an Optometrist, he narrated how he started his interesting journey of being a “comedian by passion and an optometrist by profession”.
“I really remember how this comedy thing started. Back in UCC, there was a lady called Margaret Boahemaa who would always call on me to share jokes on our excursion bound bus anytime we went out for programmes. I noticed my friends enjoyed it, but for me, it was just my way of administering my own medication to those who were downhearted,” he said.
However, that wasn’t enough proof of a potential comedian until the product of Opoku Ware Secondary School took the bold step to take part in a comedy show held by AM Pluzz’s Sammy Flex to unearth budding talents in comedy. A turning point it was for OB whose twi football commentary joke was adjudged the best of the day.
“After enjoying that spotlight on AM Pluzz, Id James Brown also gave me the platform to feature on Comedy bar, a comedy show which is held monthly at the A&C Mall. I used the opportunity to groom my art for stand-up comedy,” he said.
Probably, OB’s comic nature is innate. He narrated how his dad used to be the source of jokes in their homes when growing up. “Sincerely, I think my interest in comedy started when I was just a small boy and my dad would share jokes with us.
“I also used to watch Keysoap Concert Party a lot and would imitate Nkomode, Okala and Agya Koo on stage way back in primary school at AKAB complex, in Berekum. However, I never knew those little things I did for fun as a child would bring me glory today,” he smiled, while uttering these words.
Though he admits he’s yet to reach the greatest heights in comedy circles, the social media enthusiast says he’s already enjoying some “freebies” that comes with being a comedian.
“It has given me the opportunity to address people I never thought I could ever meet in my life. I always love to educate people on important issues and comedy has become a tool to drive home such messages to the public. Above all, it has helped me carry out a social need of humour therapy to most Ghanaians,” he said
After two years of taking comedy as a “serious business”, what has been OB’s memorable performance ? “I have been fulfilled every time I mount the stage to do my thing. But the Lord of the Ribs organised by Nabil Alhassan of Event Factory last year remains my best night on stage, for now. I hope to have better days ahead”.
For him, comedy is challenging especially when it comes to the audience since they differ in what appeals to them. “The truth is that, you need to tailor your content to suit the audience. Sometimes, you would have a whole setup planned and then thrash it because it wouldn't appeal to the audience. It's also challenging when you are new to your audience and don’t know what tthey expect from you. It puts a lot of pressure on you since you need to deliver”.
But a major challenge for OB is how some event organisers play hide and seek with comedians when it comes to payment after performances.
It’s no news that Ghanaian comedians have come under heavy disapproval for not pulling their craft but OB says that’s unfair judgment when most of these critics haven’t taken the initiative to watch their performances. He describes comedians as witty, intelligent, funny, and entertaining ( WIFE) materials.
For now, OB has many ambitions. He aims to put up a show that will fill the Accra International Conference Centre with patrons, host a comedy tour in Africa, fill the Apollo theatre and host the Grammys in future.
“Let’s see what the future holds for me with this decision to pursue comedy as a full-time job,” he says.