I'LL PERFORM TILL I'M 80 - KLINT DA DRUNK
Klint da Drunk came, saw and is conquering on many spheres. For many who know him, he is just a comedian; but he is also a musician (you agree because you see him sing) and a painter (surprised?). He took Terh Agbedeh into his world in his Lagos suburb hideout. Get a feel
What project are you working on at the moment?
Right now, we have concluded the paper work on my stage show, 'Comedy in Excess'. We are now sourcing for sponsors. I'm also working on my album. There is a sequence with which I want everything I'm working on to come out every year or every two years. The last time I did my show, the late Stella Obasanjo was in attendance, over three years ago. People have been expecting me to do another one, but I didn't because I don't want to settle for less or the usual. I want to move a step forward and do something very different from what everyone is doing. It is about doing the show and having the whole world watching. We are looking at more action than words, and there is no joke to be recycled. I've spent a long time trying to get this show to be different. I added another edge to it - whoever is going to sponsor will have a reason to smile because they will get much more than the backdrop and adverts here and there. We are going to carry them along all the way.
Your album seems to be very long in coming. What's holding it?
Since (Nigga) Raw and I did Obodo, people expected me to do my album. But I'm more a comedian than a musician. I'm also a perfectionist, and if I have to do music, let me then relax and really do something good. Besides, if I did my album then, I would not have the opportunity to work with the great minds I'm working with right now. People like Timaya and people I have discovered like this lady my wife and I met in Benin, Tessy B. We heard her beautiful voice and I invited her to Lagos. Her album is 99 per cent ready right now. I felt obliged to release her first.
When you say 'working', what do you mean exactly; is it that you are producing the songs?
I produce some of their songs, but not all because I also have a lot of things to do. When I started comedy, nobody gave me guidelines. Now, from the things I have learnt from experience, I can come out and give people guidelines, take them on the right path.
You do not have a contract with these people?
No, I prefer to see myself as a catalyst. I come in, I do what I have to do and I come out. I don't need their money because God has given me more than enough talent. I was telling you about my projects. I told you about my show, then my album. Then I have a project called 'The Worst of Klint da Drunk'.
What is that about?
It's about the worst of Klint da Drunk. You know there is nothing good about the drunk. People watch me and they have a good laugh. They fail to realise the reason behind the act. Comedians crack jokes and people laugh. What do people laugh at? The jokes. In my case, I'm the joke. In other words, I'm making a mockery of drunkards.
Do you drink?
I don't. There's no alcoholic drink here (in his house).
I saw the movie Chain Reaction. Was that the springboard for what you do now?
It helped. It made people know me. I went for the audition and was not picked, but one day while they were taking a break from shooting, I was sitting on the balcony and my very good friend, Okey, was standing there. We used to call him Boxy. He spoke to me, but I was concentrating on eating the popcorn. When I was done, I looked at him and 'changed character' instantly to a drunk. I gave it everything I had and got everyone screaming. Ejike Asiegbu ran out. I think he was the director of the movie. He was shouting "oh my God this is wonderful!" He hugged me and said: "Ladies and gentlemen, you might not believe it, but this guy has just won himself a role in the movie." No! that was Destroyers. It has been a long time, and I'm mixing it all up.
Was that your first movie?
Yes. They now called me for Chain Reaction. After that, they called me again.
It appears they were now typecasting you.
Yes, they were. And I did not push, that is why I didn't appear in so many movies. Afterwards, there was Living in Darkness, then Lost Kingdom where I was supposed to play the role of a drunkard. But the director, Ndubuisi Oko, and I were like: no, it will be the same old thing. I then did the cripple thing and he was impressed. He introduced the idea to the rest of the crew, but they didn't really understand what it was going to be like. In one of the scenes in the movie, I danced like a cripple. Everyone saw me and was surprised and asked, 'who is this?' they didn't know it was me. After the scene, I unfurled my legs and stood up. And KOK (Kanayo O. Kanayo) and the others realised it was me. They said they had thought I was a cripple from the village.
But can you do that again?
I can do it any time any day, even when I'm 79 years old. But when I'm 80 I'll not try it.
When did you finish school?
I finished with the 2000/2001 set. I had problems while I was in school and it was sorted out. And no, it was not a cult problem; it was actually academic.
You say you don't write your songs. Do you write your own jokes?
When I come on stage, whatever I see is what I do. Nobody writes those things for me. Otherwise, I would not be able to use it the way I use the jokes that come to me when I mount the stage. It comes in the spur of the moment. If someone says something about me, I turn it around and give it back.
What if you mount the stage and no one says a word?
That will tell me something about the people that are there.
In other words, that has not happened?
It has. Everybody has a good day and a bad day. Of course, I have my bad days too, but the truth is that it is actually not that bad. I have always scaled through, one way or another.
When you finished school, you must have had some plans. Did things work out the way you envisaged?
Most people that graduate from school have no plans. The plan most people have is that when I complete my national youth service, I'll work in this and that company, especially an oil company or bank. That is 98 per cent. The other two per cent are either not in school or they come out and they die. They would say: "By the time I come out of school, I'll be rich." But, most times, they don't include what they would do to be rich.
What was it for you, where did you want to work?
I was lucky. While I was in school, I was involved with showbiz. So I put in a lot of effort in my act, because I didn't want to come out of school and start looking for a job. I kept on going for shows. After school, I went to Port Harcourt where I did my national youth service. After the programme, I remained in Port Harcourt and was going from one bar to another to perform.
What exactly were you doing?
You started back then?
Way back in secondary school.
But it wasn't this 'drunk' act?
This 'drunk' act was also included among my many performances. There was one other where I used to act like a small kid and they called me "Junior" on stage. I have not brought that one out yet. But I was just living from hand to mouth. The rainy season was a bad time for us. When it rained, people didn't come out to clubs and that was bad for us. The dry season was best, as a lot of people came out, you performed and they were happy and 'sprayed' you a lot of money. From there, I started getting patronage. People would invite me to anchor their programmes. But it was stagnant at a time.
Was that why you came to Lagos?
I went to Abuja first, but it wasn't so interesting. At a time, I returned to Port Harcourt. Yibokoko told me to come to Port Harcourt where he got Opa Williams to feature me in Nite of a Thousand Laughs. (Yibokoko is a comedian and right now he is abroad.) Opa wasn't so keen because, as a businessman, he has to know what he is giving to his crowd. He told me to use five minutes. But by the time I had done five minutes, I saw someone saying, "no way, continue". It was lovely. It was one of my best. I came down from the stage and Opa was happy. He then booked me for the second show and paid me.
I guess that was the biggest take-home you were getting before that time?
No. I had gotten much bigger pay before then. It was the best show based on acceptance. The crowd was more and I really enjoyed it. And I got 'sprayed' on stage. I was the only one so appreciated then. I did the second show and it was lovely. I was so happy. Opa started calling me for all the Nite of a Thousand Laughs shows. That introduced me to the major market.
It was Nite of a Thousand Laughs that brought you to Lagos, yeah?
I was already in Lagos, but didn't have much; but the show brought me to limelight. Corporate bodies that attended the show saw me as someone they could feature in their shows, and I started getting some deals. That is why till tomorrow, I'll remain loyal to Opa Williams, and especially Yibokoko for believing in me. When they packaged Nite of a Thousand Laughs for sale, it was the best thing that happened to comedians in the country. Our popularity shot up.
The fame must have taken you unawares. How were you able to handle the shock of it all?
As an entertainer, you often fantasise about fame. But there is more to life than that. At that point, it was hard to tell who liked or hated you. Some people would come to you with the desire to ruin you, so they could get famous in the process. Anyone who intends to go into or is already into showbiz must be careful.
I guess that's one of the reasons you decided to hide in the outskirts of Lagos?
Where I was living in Surulere, my house became a bus stop for everyone. I decided to settle down and it didn't stop. I cut everybody off and found this hideout. I was tired of paying 'area boys.' All the 'area boys' around would come to me and ask for money. I came here, so I can have time to think and work on my life.
When did you get married?
It was just last December 30 that we did the traditional wedding.
When you started out as a comedian, you were not as many as you are now and you were getting a lot of shows. Is it the same now?
Not really. You know a lot of value is being added to entertainers now. There are people who still want cheap comedy. It's not only about mounting the stage and talking. If you check how much Chris Rock and his American counterparts are getting, you will realise that we are not being paid here in Nigeria. You'd see 50 Cent, Usher and several others come in here collect a huge amount. Our own people will still get peanuts.
Does it worry you that some comedians use the physically-challenged for jokes?
It depends on your sense of humour. The same comedians joke about people that are normal and we laugh; that's how I see it. I make jest of people who don't have control over their liquor. It's not funny, but the truth is, if what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, then why can't I make a joke? I'm not making fun of them. I want us to be clear about one thing; making fun of a cripple or someone who stammers is different from making a joke out of them. If you are wise, you can make a joke out of them, not making jest of them or mocking them. Mockery is not comedy.