MY MOTHER WANTED ME TO BE A CARPENTER
Julius 'Genius' Agwu no doubt is the originator and exponent of the fusion of music and comedy in Nigerian entertainment industry, which he calls musicomedy.
Everything about him is comic enough to make you laugh. He is a native of Ikwerre; a minority tribe in Rivers State. He grew up in Port Harcourt. He attended Choba Elementary School in Port Harcourt. He obtained a diploma Theatre Arts and later a first degree also in Theatre Arts from the University of Port Harcourt.
“Music and comedy has been part of me I believe it is God's gift to me which a times marvels me. Then when I was young when I was sent on errands I would stop along the road to entertain through jokes and songs that I compose in my brain”. Back in those days in the secondary school I was the leader of a drama school which was known in the community then”. All these were what Julius needed to know that he is man of no small means in the entertainment industry in the country.
On his performances Julius believes a joke should have something to do with the immediate environment of a comedian. “You have to know what is going on which will be of great advantage to a good comedian.
Basically I am motivated by the situation around me.
For instance in USA, Britain and other Western nations, the issue of terrorist attack is called 'Bomb Explosion' but in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Arab nations where such occurrence is an everyday thing it is simply called a 'blast'. If as a comedian I don't up date myself what happens is that you will crack jokes and the audience already know what you say to end the joke. For the Nigerian society you really need to understand what the poor man is going through, how he lives with his family and his children along side the rich man where he lives, his life style and the way he will handle issues which you know are quite different”.
The man who got the appellation 'Genius' through an unusual feat during a road show in 2001 from Dele Olukoju does not only see comedy as a serious business but an avenue where one can jokingly pass across messages to the populace, government in power or anyone that needs to be corrected. “Comedy could also correct the ills in the society for instance my last album that had the track 'show your hand work'
requires everyone to have a job and it also depicts those that don't carry out their duties with dignity”.
Asked which other profession would he have taken to Julius replied, “I would have been a carpenter, that was the vocation my mother wanted me to learn. May be today I would be a called furniture or upholstery maker, you know Nigerians and how everyone calls himself or herself. Tailors will say they are fashion designers, people like Dakova we call them designers, whereas they are actually tailors, hair dressers you now call stylists or beauticians. The mama that you pay to cook for you when you have a party will tell she is not a cook or steward but a caterer, the receptionist is now called the Front Desk Officer. It is Nigeria's own way evolving or developing as the case may be”.
So how old is Julius?
“I am very old. It is what everybody knows my age is on the bill boards everywhere”.
On how he copes with his admirers especially the ladies, Julius believes women should be respected but then he has his ways of dealing with them. “Some ladies could be mischievous, you meet them give them a hug, the next day they expect you to give them a peck on the cheek, later a kiss and one thing leads to the other. I know my boundry so I try to draw the line.
Unfortunately in most cases the average Nigerian lady will say you are proud and feeling big but they should understand that everyone has his or her mood. As a comedian or public figure you have to know how to handle women especially so that this does not mar your good image”.
Julius, a certificate holder from Brighton Film School, London on his record label said “the name of the music label is Reel Laif Music and we are coming up very soon with the VCD of Julius Agwu's two previous albums. And the same record label has been responsible for the production of Laff 4 Christ's Sake recordings”. The 2005 edition will be held in Muson Centre Lagos Island on 21st August 2005. It is an evening of gospel comedy, song and fun for everybody.
Artistes billed to perform include Sammie Okposo, DC Envoy, Keffi, and many comedians such as Omo Baba.
What is responsible for the growing number of comedians?
“It is a positive development. That means those that are in the industry are doing fine. There is one thing you should know, there are three types of comedians, the stand up comedian, sit down comedian and the lie down comedian. This makes every good comedian to be on his toes and you need to stand out to be out standing and you need to be outstanding to stand out”.
Asked whether he feels fulfilled, Julius believes has to continue striving as it is not yet uhuru. “ I give all thanks to God who has deposited these talents in me but I can do better”.
Does he have any awards due to his performances?
“I have received a lot of awards, some in this country and few one abroad. For instance in year 2002 I won the AMEN awards for the most entertaining video, I also got the Afro Hollywood Awards for Outstanding Role in Arts Entertainment and Culture the awards presentation holds in London”.
Julius has a way reaching out to less privileged, disabled, abandoned, or rejected people in the society. The name of his pet project is Heart of Gold Auspice. “The meaning of NGO is Ngozi which means God's blessings. But in this part of the world it has been turned around. People set up NGOs to enrich their pockets and the purpose, which they got assistance, aids and so on, is always defeated. I think love should not only be shared with the able and privileged. Who takes care of the motherless, abandoned and the less privileged? Every February 14, Valentine day, a day that love is celebrated I make sure there is attention for these set of special people in the society. It is high time we had started thinking of giving back to the society by helping the less privileged”.
Life to Julius who intends to tie the nuptial knots soon is doing the best possible in his chosen field to stand out so as to be outstanding. He also believes his immediate environment has answers to every questions about success.
On his regular trips abroad, “I travel to outside the country once in two months to perform at shows and also anchor shows as the Master of Ceremony. One performance that I did outside this country that made me know I am indeed endowed with the talent of music and comedy was the performance at Dresden in Germany in year 2003. I performed and the audience were thrilled they dance, laughed and I even involved their children and some of them whom I brought on stage. It has been one of the most wonderful time in my career”.
The men whose video chop bisikit brought him to the limelight would advice the upcoming acts in the industry to be focused and believe in themselves.
Piracy to Julius is a problem that cannot be solved.
“It will take God's intervention or miracle to tackle piracy because it is a global issue, and you know in Nigeria we have a special way of reacting to global issues. I think we should keep praying about it because as far as I am concerned the Nigerian government does not have any policy to deal with this problem now”.
Julius makes use of children in his video to pass across a message. He believes they are important in the society and they are capable of disseminating information faster than the elders. The society believes children are more innocent than the adult and are in the right mind almost every time.
Julius has two role models his father who is late and Bill Cosby who has a unique way of performing.
Cosby's ways of dealing with children will continue to
fascinate Julius 'Genius' Agwu.
BY TAIWO OBATUSIN