THOSE WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT MY EARRINGS ARE NOT CONFIDENT OF THEMSELVES —TEJU BABY FACE
Olateju Oyelakin, popularly called Teju Baby Face, has the weird habit of wearing earrings. But he tells ADAEZE AMOS that those who complain about men wearing earrings are not confident of themselves. Excerpts:
How did you come about the name Teju Baby Face?
Well, the same way everybody comes about their name. We were looking for a name and it was obvious and it was Tee's wife (a colleague's wife) that gave me the name. At that time, she wasn't his wife. She was his girlfriend. So, she just gave me the name and I started using it. And from all the options we had then, the name was the best. And that was a decision I never regretted.
What are the difficulties of being a comedian in a society like Nigeria?
It is more of the same challenge that everybody has in other jobs. You can only operate successfully when you are being guided by a vision. You must have a vision first. Lack of vision is a challenge. When you now have a vision, there are challenges that come with every vision and that is how to accomplish what you set out to do. And once God tells you how, then it is no longer a challenge. So, it is the same challenges; how to make yourself a premium brand; a sought-after brand. That's basically it.
What inspires your jokes?
Well, some things that happen around. All of us see those things; all of us talk about those things, but because I'm a comedian, I see them differently. What you will see and just laugh and forget about it, I see it and I laugh and I try to remember it. If it can make me laugh, then it should be able to make other people laugh. That's how I see them. I try to remember them and embellish it somewhat and that of course, becomes a joke. If I told you that the average Nigerian was in the habit of using the rest room and not washing his hands, all of us know it's true. You notice that it is true, but the only difference is when you notice it, you just shrug and walk away. But I wont shrug and walk away. I will turn it into a joke.
You are in the business of making others laugh, but you seem to look stiff.
Well, that is because I'm working now. You see, making others laugh is a business. Comedy is serious business. It is a service that you are buying. However, the business of making you laugh is not funny. There is nothing funny about sitting down and trying to form jokes. It's not funny at all and as a matter of fact, the time you know it's not funny is when you pay for a comedian and the comedian is not doing his job.
You talk so much about God and you also say you are a born-again Christian. Are you not bothered about people's impression of you, especially with the earring you are wearing?
Don't get me wrong. I have my own sins that I deal with everyday. A righteous man shall fall and rise up again. This is in the Holy Book. My pastor says that what you hear and what you see enter your life and enter your heart. I talk like this because I try to keep in line with certain principles.
You worship at Day Star Christian Centre, and they allow you wear an earring?
That is why my pastor is funny. I asked him recently, 'I said Pastor Sam, when I enter the church sometimes with my cap on, some ushers tell me to remove it.' He said, 'personally I think you can do what you want.' Being a Christian goes deeper than all those things, about how you wear your hat and the earring you are wearing. If God's vision for your life involves you not wearing an earring, then don't. If God's vision for your life involves you wearing it, then why not? There are bigger things to contend with than all these things.
So, God's vision for your life involves you wearing an earring?
Does the fact that I wear an earring make me worse than an armed robber, who doesn't wear an earring? Or does the fact that I wear a cap to church and the next man removes his cap, does it make him holier than me?
Have you thought about the negative impression people will have about you just because of the earring?
Oh well that is their business. In my church we are into touching people's lives.
Some people may see you as an unserious person.
That is on the contrary. See if I walk into an event and you see me wearing an earring, the way I carry myself and the way I dress makes you reconsider. And when you see me do my job, it makes you reconsider. So, even if you want to talk to me about the earring, there is a certain way you approach me with respect. You know, you don't talk to me anyhow.