BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
For some time now, I have occasionally caught myself in the misfortune of watching Africa’s largest TV network’s slow trudge into entertainment and commercial extinction.
Rather than watch my favourite channel on DStv – Sony Max – or scan the available Africa Magic channels in search of the face of my Nollywood crush, I set the channel to NTA International, especially those times when I want to do other things on my computer and I want no distractions. So, instead of putting off my television, I dump the channel on NTA and shake my head or feel sad at what the only TV station available when I was born has deteriorated into. I have never been distracted. Not once have I had a reason to look up from my computer until Sunday night when I noticed comedian Ali Baba wearing a suit and sitting behind a table in a manner that made me wonder if Teju Baby Face’s Show had come back to life.
I immediately unmuted the TV and discovered it was a late night comedy show titled “Ali Baba Seriously”. I do not know for how long exactly it had been on television ( I read somewhere that it started in October 2017), but that was my first time of catching it.
Of course, this was a show on NTA but I was still scandalized with the show’s set and how the main cameraman had framed his shot to accommodate Ali Baba and his young comedian “co-anchor” whose name and face have disappeared from my memory as quickly as it had appeared on my screen that night.
Okay, so this is how the set was arranged. Ali Baba had an “oga’s” chair which sat behind a table. To Ali’s right was a set of three or four large chairs. Behind them were more chairs. It was on one of these that the guest anchor stationed himself. So for the first fifteen minutes or so of the show, this comedian sat on his chair while the chairs in front were empty. Apparently, guests were coming on the show and like most chairs at the front when you attend functions in Nigeria, these ones were reserved for them. To Ali’s left, there was a stage. On it was a piano. The pianist was seated facing away from Ali. Between the piano and Ali Baba’s table was the DJ and her stand.
The arrangement of the set meant it was difficult for the main camera to capture everybody in one frame. But that didn’t stop them from trying to make it do just that. The result was three and a half humans on screen whenever the wide shot took over. Even though there were several empty seats which the co-anchor could have occupied to help with the frame and which would have in turn included everyone needed to be seen.
Not shocking abi? Shebi it is NTA.
The director conspired with the vision mixer to ensure that there were periods (and there were plenty of them) when the camera was not on who was speaking. The switch to close up shots were slower than Buhari’s body language after he became president in 2015. The backdrop of the National Theatre and some of Lagos was good though. It did not fight too hard for attention and it seemed to complement Ali Baba’s demeanour.
Being an Ali Baba show, it possessed content although delivery was not the best it could be. Especially in the early period of the show when Ali was going through some of the major news highlights from the past week. Also, you would think they would dwell more on some of them instead of the very ordinary one-liners they came up with as responses.
The show came alive when actors Adesua Etomi and Deyemi Okanlawon were guests on the show alongside the producer of Date Night, the movie they were there to promote. There was also a performance by Explicit Dance Crew from Ibadan, but who were in Lagos for Okey Bakassi’s show.
In all, Ali Baba Seriously is a visual pain (of course, I blame NTA), sometimes funny but nonetheless an erstwhile missing attempt at a late night comedy show on Nigerian TV in recent time.