I DON’T CARE WHEN PEOPLE SAY I’M UGLY –Omobaba
Fagade Oluwafemi Ademola a.k.a. Omobaba is one comedians in the entertainment industry. In this interview with 'NONYE IWUAGWU and LANRE FEHINTOLA, the comedian says he does not mind that people call him the ugliest comedian around. He also discloses how he came into the comedy business.
Is Omobaba your real name?
People know me as Omobaba, but you have to be close to me to actually know that I am also a singer. Way back then, I did gospel Afro. After a particular ministration in one church, an elderly man walked up to me and said, 'Thank God for your life, you are not like your brothers, Femi and Seun. You don't smoke igbo and you don't womanise'. I asked him who he was referring to and he said in Yoruba, “Sebi Omo Baba leyin naa?”, meaning are you not also the son of the father?. I said yes, thinking that he was referring to my dad. Then, I sat down and thought over that name. So, Omo Baba means the son of God. I am not just the son of God, I am the number one.
You don't mind the name?
I don't mind it at all. Close friends still call me Femi. I have a whole lot of names like fine boy, sexy, Doctor B, Mr. Fix It and others. Most people refer to me as Mr. Perfectionist because I always want things done perfectly. I would rather not touch it when I know I cannot accomplish it that way.
Apart from comedy, what else do you do?
I am a very creative person. That informed my resolve not to work for anybody. I am not practising what I studied in school. I studied Industrial Relations and Personnel Management at the Lagos State University, but I am into singing, as you know. I am also into acting. I have done about two movies and I have featured in one Yoruba movie. I do painting, but I have stopped that for a long time. I am praying to God to forgive me for that. I am also into interior decoration and event planning.
How come people don't know you as a singer?
I do sing. I even have some songs on radio they were composed by me, but sang by other known artistes. I don't want any credit. It is something I just like doing. When I compose songs and I see that it is good for any artiste, I give it out.
Why don't you want to take the credit?
I don't want to be a Jack of all trade and master of none. Everything has its own time. I want to make sure I get to the peak. In terms of comedy, I am actually arriving at that. But really, I want to take one thing after the other so that I don't get messed up. Music is something I like doing.
Why did you choose to be a comedian then?
I was into all the normal things young guys like me were doing when I was growing up. But I belonged to several cultural and social groups then. People were always inviting my band to perform at churches. In church, I also act as a single actor who would take the roles of five different characters with different voices and movements. All these put together gave me the confidence to face the crowd, which is the major thing you have to overcome as a comedian.
But there was a day I was only meant to sing and not to act or crack jokes in church. Then, I just saw myself standing up to make the people laugh. That day, the MC did not come on time and someone just called me within the church, saying Femi, you could do this thing. Just jump on the stage and crack jokes. I did just that.
Did you have ready-made jokes?
Way back then, I loved watching Danjuma. I knew about four of Damjuma's jokes that I could deliver perfectly. I did the jokes and people started laughing. They didn't even know I was retelling someone else's jokes and they were so happy with me, telling me I was very funny. That prompted me into doing my own jokes. People started inviting me to compere at their weddings and they were asking me how much I would charge them. I didn't believe it. I was stepping up. But I still wasn't too popular. I called up one guy that worked in a TV station and he gave me a listening ear. I went to him and he just told me to go on set. I guess I impressed him a lot. That day, I felt like a big boy.
I thought people would be hailing me because I was on TV. But just as I stepped out, I was surprised that nobody recognised me. It was when I got home that an old woman called me and said Femi, a ri e lori television. O try o 'Femi, we saw you on TV and you really tried'.
I was so happy that a 75-year-old woman saw me on TV.
Why do people call you Fine Boy?
The thing is that you need to have an identity. All the comedians have identities. I know I am not a fine boy facially, but every disappointment is a blessing. When I got on stage the first time during the Nite of A Thousand Laughs, one person in the audience shouted, 'O boy, you no fine o!' I almost missed the jokes I was about to deliver as soon as he said that. I almost forgot all the things I had rehearsed. I didn't know what to say. I was just walking up and down.
Some thought I was doing fashion parade. Then another person said, 'You no fine,' and I responded by saying that it was a stale news and people started laughing. I wondered why people were laughing, because to me, I had not cracked any joke. So, I capitalised on it, and became spontaneous. I said, 'Even if I no fine, I de arrange. What do I wear? I wear singlet.' People laughed the more. I told myself that if I could do that within a short time frame, then I could actually build on it. That was how people started calling me Fine Boy.
Do you agree that you are not a fine boy?
That was back then. It was a transformation. If you see my picture when I was a bit younger, you would love me like a baby because I looked so wonderful.
But when I started growing up, my face started changing. But I am one of the best models around.
You don't get mad when people say you are ugly?
I don't mind at all, and it has helped my temperament. Before, if you called me an ugly boy, I would be mad. If you say so now, I would say “thank you” with a smile. It has helped my temperament a whole lot. I don't mind anybody calling me an ugly guy. Call me the name and let me make the money.
Do girls get attracted to you with your looks?
Yes. I am very handsome, whether you like it or not.
Whatever I wear looks good on me. If I am on casual, I look very smart. If I am on corporate, I look different.
I have different kinds of look and I can look the way I want to look when it comes to appearance.
I am originally blessed by God to look handsome.But really, the opposite sex do admire my hair, eyes, legs and other things. If you knew how I was some years ago, I tell you, in the next couple of years, I will be competing with RMD.
Does your girlfriend mind that you are called an ugly guy?
I would rather you say 'girlfriends'. Some mind and they ask why I am called that. Some understand it is a joke, while some don't. Some don't find it funny. There was a particular day I was walking with a friend and somebody called me wowo (ugly). She was so upset and shouted at the person. But I told her not to shout at the person because the person is my fan. Some people find pleasure in calling me those names, but I see it as my job. If I have a baby boy of let say three to six years, I won't mind if he calls me ugly daddy. It doesn't really count, because it is my job. To be ugly is good, and we who are ugly are big people. Check Nigeria, you would see that ugly people are the ones holding big positions.
Has a joke ever put you in trouble?
Almost. I did a song on fine boy. The radio station that aired that song the first time was cautioned not to play the song again because I mentioned some names. The DJ was smart enough to take out some names, but at the end of the day, he made a terrible mistake by retaining a particular name.
Do you feel bad about your looks?
My look is beautiful. Maybe I should just take out time to show you some of my pictures. Everything that God created is beautiful and wonderfully made. I am neither beautifully made nor wonderfully made, but I am fearfully made. Some people are badly made, so when I see them, I still have hope.
Why didn't your parents object to your decision to be a comedian?
One thing I noticed about my parents is that they let you do whatever you want to do. They even encouraged me; so far as they see that what I am doing is good.
Some people walk up to them and tell them that they saw me on TV. If they say they saw me on Crime Fighter, there would be a problem. But if they say they saw me with Governor Fashola, Governor Gbenga Daniel or Ali Baba, that is okay. I know they are in support of what I do since I have not brought shame to the family.
Why are you not married?
It is difficult to seperate those who like you as Oluwafemi Fagade from those who like you as Omobaba. I want someone who would know and understand my job the way it is. It takes somebody with a big heart and love to understand this industry. It is better to get married and enjoy it than to get married and start seeing headlines like 'Omobaba's marriage crumbles.' It is better to stay with the one you love so that when you get provoked, it doesn't get to the extent that you misbehave. So I don't want to rush. Most marriages out there are not in good shape. I am sorry to say, but I don't want mine to be like that. They call me Dr. Fix it, Omo B, so I need to be careful.
But you have a girlfriend?
Yes. Really, I have seen someone and I know we are going somewhere. She is beautiful, fine and lovely. I know that if I marry her, the future of my children will be very bright when it comes to their looks.
So, you want to marry a fine girl?
Of course, if you are my friend and you are short, you should know that there is no hope for you. She must be very tall, with a lovely face.
Since there are many comedians, how do you cope with competition?
I don't believe in competition neither do I believe in so many awards. I like one Yoruba adage that says that the water you will drink will not flow by you. I am more of a person that stays indoor. I am not even on TV. You would see that Omobaba does not go about organising shows. I am okay with what I do.
Tell us a bit about yourself… I am from Ilesa in Osun state, but I was born and bred in Lagos. Growing up was fun and I could have whatever I needed because my parents were doing well until things started changing. My early days really helped me to mix with the rich and the poor.
Do you have any regrets?
Actually, as Christian, you believe that whatever happens to you is not by mistake. God knows about it. But we thank God, everything is going on fine.