Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome, professionally known as Ali Baba, is a Nigerian stand-up comedian and actor. Ali Baba was born in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria on June 24, 1965, to the royal family of Agbarha Otor. He is the first son of several children, and spent his first 8 years in Warri. His father is a retired soldier who served in Lagos.
He attended Ojo Primary School and Command Secondary School in Lagos. He furthered his education at Ibru College in Agbarha-Otor and Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University), Ekpoma where he focused on Religious Studies & Philosophy. After completing his academic degree in 1990, he relocated back to Lagos, to develop his comedic talent he discovered at the university. Originally, he planned to study Law but decided he could be more successful by making people laugh than by defending them.
He began his professional career performing at corporate events, appearing on television shows with Patrick Doyle, Charly Boy and Danladi Bako, and making cameo appearances on radio shows with Bisi Olatilo, Sani Irabor and Mani Onumonmu. He also worked with Dapo Adelegan of DP Lekki Limited as executive assistant in 1991. With little precedent in Nigeria for stand-up comedians, Ali Baba persevered to professionalize his skills and carve a niche as an innovator and comedian for corporate and non-corporate events and by serving as a Master of Ceremony at many events.
In 1993, he registered his company Alibaba Hicuppuray 3rd to enhance the perception of comedians as a profession and a respected way of life. As part of this work, in 1998, he hired billboards on strategic Lagos streets with the message that became known as “Being Funny is Serious Business.”
Ali Baba, maintains the philosophy that his business is big enough for all who want to make comedy their chosen profession. As such, he supports, mentors and presents several comedians helping to ensure that standards are maintained and professionalism encouraged.
Ali Baba has been a professional stand up comedian for the past 30 years and has received several awards. Ali Baba was inducted into the Johnnie Walker ‘Striding Man’ Society in 2009 which recognizes men who have achieved great strides in their chosen fields and who motivate and encourage others In 2012, he rang the Year End Closing Bell of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the first Nigerian comedian to do so.
He is a Special Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps. In March 2015, Ali Baba was featured on CNN African voices, speaking about his goal to professionalize and gain acceptance for Nigerian comedians. In April 2018, Ali Baba received the Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International for his contribution to the Nigerian Comedy industry