Eleven Questions for Merchant of Laughter: AY
Ayo Makun, popularly known as AY, is a merchant. Although he could be described as a talented actor, producer, comedian, and entrepreneur, yet AY mostly stands out as a supplier of laughter. I first encountered him in 30 Days in Atlanta and, since then, I have watched all his movies except American Driver, The Accidental Spy, and Christmas in Miami. However, I had the opportunity of hanging out briefly with him in Miami while he was shooting Christmas in Miami. On that occasion, he dished out laughter in generous quantity to everyone present. In this conversation that took place 14 months after, AY speaks about life mostly, especially after the birth of his second child, and the significance of Warri as a muse.
Q: You became a dad for the second time not too long ago; that is, after your first child has become a teenager. Kindly compare and contrast your life before and after the arrival of your second child.
Having to deal with a teenage daughter as a dad has been quiet demanding for me personally. But the good thing is that I have been able to strike a balance with my wife by using the good and bad cop technique. Together we’ve been to maintain an emotional connection with our first daughter, in line with discipline and every other quality home training that does not clash with her confidence and independence. But the arrival of our second daughter after 13 years has taken us back to the fundamental stage of completely bonding, and responding to her everyday needs with love, warmth, and care.
Fatherhood is a joyful experience, but it does have its challenges. What did you have to learn about how to manage a home with a newborn baby?
Beyond all the joyful moments that a newborn baby brings to any family, managing a home with one can be extremely tasking. To begin with, I have a wife who does not completely subscribe to leaving our baby in someone else’s care. That alone has made me become a nanny by extension at home. I have learnt how to be a support system by waking or staying up to attend to the needs of our baby. I have always known that newborn babies grow mentally and physically from human contact like touching, cuddling, talking, singing, and gazing into each other’s eyes. My consistency in all of these has built a more direct connection with Ayomide.
Your 13- or 14-year-old daughter was an only child for a very long time. How is she coping with the fact that there is now a rival sibling in the house?
It has always been Michelle’s wish to have a younger one to relate with in the house. So the arrival of Ayomide is very far from been seen as a rival. She is also another nanny who pays special attention to her younger sister. Once in a while, she teases us on our our attention has shifted to the newborn from a place of love.
Have both children started fighting for your attention and affection yet?
There is absolutely nothing to fight for at the moment between my girls. If there is anyone fighting for attention, it would be me. Because I sometimes feel abandoned when I see my wife and daughters having their girl’s timeout.
You have been traveling in recent time. What do you miss about your life as a husband and a father whenever you are on the road?
I usually find myself missing the simple things. There is no comfort like the comfort of your home. No matter the five-star hotels provided. I miss my wife and her attention to detail when it comes to preparing me my special meals. I miss engaging in my sporting activities. As much as I miss my daughters, I honestly do not miss staying up at night as a nanny husband.
Summer has been eventful for you businesswise: you had your comedy set in North America, and you made an appearance at the United Nations. Can you share with TNR your experiences with your fans and audiences during these events, and what would you say your work mean to them?
My first ever comedy tour of America and Canada was a mind-blowing experience. I honestly did not see the appreciation of the brand coming outside the shores Nigeria to be that huge. But now that I am aware of what I command by talent and grace, we shall be doing it annually, and make it bigger and better. My invitation to the United Nations was to call attention to my new movie titled Almajiri which already has 27 nominations at Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival. The movie is designed to create a global awareness to issues like human trafficking, slavery, justice, and freedom.
Stand-up Comedy and acting in Nollywood films are what you are known for globally. Do you have any preference for one over the other?
I absolutely do not have any preferences. But permit me to acknowledge the fact that my talent as a standup comedian gave me the financial balance and inroads into Nollywood. It was a perfect opportunity to express myself as a complete Thespian.
You were born in Warri with a Yoruba heritage. It does seem, though, that Warri – perhaps, Abraka as well – has made an impact on your psyche to the extent that your alter ego, Akpos, mostly manifests t waffi mannerisms. What does that region of Nigeria mean to you creatively?
Warri means everything to me creatively. There will be no AY today without Warri. As a matter of fact, I am very much in tune with the people’s language and culture in comparison to my Yoruba heritage. Hence the creation of the Akpos character and mannerisms that has given me blockbuster movies and have my work in the Guinness World Records.
What should your fans be expecting from you as Akpos or any other character on the big screen?
Lovers of the brand should be expecting more creative contents that will beat their imaginations, as we intend to push for more global presence in the entertainment space. They should go see Almajiri in cinemas nationwide from December 2 .
Is ‘Merry Men’ a film franchise? If it is, when should your adoring fans expect ‘Merry Men 3’?
The incessant pressure on us to do ‘Merry Men 3’ has been on going. The script is ready, and in no time, we shall be on location to shoot again.
If I am not wrong, almost every film that you have made is on the list of highest-grossing Nigerian films. What is the recipe for your success in this business?
Yes! Every film that I have made is on the list of highest-grossing Nigerian films. Even, at that, I cannot lay any claims to be the best or do the most. Too much of work goes into the effort of bringing up a satisfying film in the industry. So, my recipe for success starts from the quality of the story to the casting and my dedication to understanding all the commercial elements that bring the people out to enjoy our creative efforts. Such dedication and consistency also come with a high voltage of grace that I cannot deny.