Comedy has always been an integral part of filmmaking in Nigeria, especially as it relates to its presentation and message. Comic reliefs abound in many movies, and in contemporary times, seeing scenes of the legendary duo, Aki and Pawpaw elicit humour which drives relatability to these film projects. More recently, professional comic acts are undertaking more serious roles in film projects (like Mr Macaroni in ‘Anikulapo’ or Officer Woos in ‘The Griot’), making their presence in Nigeria’s film industry crucial to its evolution. Even mainstream actors like Odunlade Adekola or Lateef Adedimeji are so often associated with humour in their roles, that it might come off amusing or odd when they play serious characters in other movies.
This is why a movie like ‘The StandUp’ is an apt project towards celebrating Nigeria’s comic industry, and a necessary highlight of how the partnership between Nigeria’s film and comedy industries has driven more acceptability to visual projections of contemporary plights. It is also a treatise into the realities of suffering in Nigeria, and how the comedy industry has uplifted so many Nigerians, which is a clear reflection of Nigeria’s comic industrial situation — most of Nigeria’s comedians got uplifted from penury by their comic wits. It is also a projection on how poverty could dampen spirits and drive individuals to desperate depths, in high hopes of “securing the bag,” as Nigerians would say.
- Advertisement -
The StandUp is a movie about a young man’s, Ovie, struggles in his hometown, Warri, and how he travels to Nigeria’s city of dreams, Lagos, to save his sister who is being held ransom because of the debts owed to a loan shark by his late father. Produced by Peekaboo Productions and directed by Jide Oyegbile, the movie features an impressive cast including Richard Ayodeji Makun (AY), Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), Anita Asuoha (RealWarriPikin), Jide Kosoko, Mofe Duncan, Dibor Adaobi Lillian, Stephanie Zibili, Paul Olope and Eso Dike.
The movie is a movie exploring courage and potential, and how the right elements could propel these towards the attainment of success. This is seen in how Ovie, who was unaware of his talents in humour, got discovered, and how his stage frights hindered his chances of immediate success in the comedy industry. It also exemplifies the power of belief and choice, as necessary propellants to talents individuals might exhibit.
I love how the movie softly jabs itself into examining its themes, and how it navigates narratives that riddle Nigeria’s entertainment space. One is how it examines how Lagos as the country’s entertainment and commercial capital is taking off potential and opportunities from other Nigerian cities. This is epitomized in how Ovie refuses to move out of Warri due to his belief that he could make it in the city, despite the many taunts and advice he got. However, this theme also ironically succumbs to reality: Ovie had to move to Lagos to hustle when he was faced with challenges that threatens his sister’s safety and independence.
Also, the movie also explores how scandals ruin entertainers, and how gossip thrives in entertainment. This is seen in how Ovie’s mentor had the chips against him when he was jailed for murder (which he was innocent of, by the way). It also shows the rivalries that dominate Nigeria’s entertainment space, and the desperate measures competitors could take to saunter the chances of their enemies.
The movie, however, fails in some ways to deliver its core messages. The acting from most of its actors was lukewarm and poor, and its lead character, Paul Olope’s acting was quite hindered by the script, acting and the film’s cinematography. So many things were wrong — how can a self-acclaimed street-smart hustler be riddled and scammed by easy tricks? Or how does a film about standup comedy be filled with dry jokes from ‘acclaimed comedians?’
- Advertisement -
The mid-performance of its lead character, Paul Olope comes off as expected, as he is a comedian first, and not an actor. However, Eso Dike comes off worse, which is disappointing, as he is presumed to be an acting professional. His scenes were filled with crass actings and wrong gestures, making the movie saunter into the exhibition of its themes. However, Richard Mofe Damijo’s acting ought to be commended, as he perfectly exemplifies the loan-shark villain he was expected to characterize. Due to these, the movie falls off in some respect in its examination of its thematic tropes, restraining it from attaining its effective visual representation potential.
StandUp is a movie examining success and struggles in Nigeria’s societal-comic terrains, and how adversities could hinder an individual from reaching their fullest potential. However, crass acting and sauntered humour limit the film’s potential towards examining its core theme. The movie presents a necessary treatise into Nigeria’s comic sector, and how the standup comedy scene could be an optimized propellant towards poverty alleviation and human resource development in Nigeria.
StandUp is currently streaming in cinemas nationwide.
- Advertisement -
TFC Review: 3.0/5
Produced By: Peekaboo Productions
Directed By: Jide Oyegbile
Cast: Richard Ayodeji Makun (AY), Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), Anita Asuoha (RealWarriPikin), Jide Kosoko, Mofe Duncan, Dibor Adaobi Lillian, Stephanie Zibili, Paul Olope and Eso Dike.