People should take comedians serious – Koffi


When it comes to stand- up comedy in Nigeria, one name that will certainly be on the lips of many is Koffi Idowu Nuel. He is popularly known as Koffi. Over the years, he has registered his trade mark as a

force to be reckoned with in the business of comedy. He is not doing badly in music and acting. In this interview with BUKOLA BAKARE, the Chemistry graduate of the University of Lagos speaks on how he veered into comedy in school, his views about comedians who recycle their jokes as well as plans for the future.

Everybody knows you as Koffi, the comedian. Give us an insight into your background?
I was born Koffi Idowu Nuel and my mother is from Togo while my father is from Ibeju Lekki, Lagos. I am a comedian, actor and singer.

Take us back to your early days in comedy?
Well.... I started out from Theatre 15 at the University of Lagos when I was studying Chemistry. Prior to that, I went to Adrao Nursery School and Kuramo Primary School in Victoria Island. I also went to Moriti College, Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State.

What inspired you to go into comedy?
Like I said, I started out as a stage actor at the University of Lagos and while I was a stage actor, my comical side gradually took over the serious part of me. So, it just metamorphosed into being who I am today - a comic character. I used to be a very naughty boy when I was young so it was just natural for me.

How would you describe Koffi?
Well... Koffi is an intellect who likes to portray himself in different areas of the arts. I have the talent so I don't let it go to waste. I express myself through music, comedy or acting. I think I am a very simple person. Besides the job, I am an introvert and I like to keep to myself a lot except when I am on the job. I think I am a 100% Nigerian and proudly Nigerian too.

How long have you been in the comedy business and what has been your challenges?
I have been in comedy for the fun of it since 1997/98 but financially, since the year 2000 and professionally, since 2001. By the grace of God, there has been no challenges for me because I see everything as it is written by God. So, it is not exactly a challenge. You know, sometimes, we don't always wait for God's time as the best time. We always want to rush things but for me, I take it nice and slow, take things the way it comes and flow with the tide. So, everything that happens to me is the way God has ordained it to be. That is how I see it.

So, what is Koffi working on now?
Right now, it is Koffi and the worker man movement, I am promoting new music and my new movie, Mumu is going to be out very soon. It premiered recently. The brand, Koffi right now is all about production; music, movies and every other forms of production. It is not just about cracking jokes anymore. That is what I am working on now.

Why do you think comedians re-cycle their jokes?
It is not wrong for a comedian to say his own jokes over and over again. What is wrong is when others pilfer the jokes and make it their own and they all crack the jokes at the same time. It is wrong. It is not bad for a comedian to get to an event and find a relevant material from another comedian's joke and use it but it is very wrong for comedians to gather together at a public concert and three or four of them will crack the same jokes. It makes no sense and I find that difficult to comprehend. I am fighting against people who pilfer other peoples' jokes. I am really against it.

What are you doing in that regard? Are you doing anything specific?
Yes, I have been calling everybody to order. Recently, I spoke to two upcoming talents that the best way forward is to get original and serious. If people don't take us serious, then, our industry is going to crumble and we are going to address the issue at the right forum. We don't need to fight about it and create a mess. We will call ourselves to order, talk about it and make sense out of it.

What are the problems comedians face in the industry? Are there any peculiar ones?
For me, the way I see things, it is not exactly a problem, it is just the way society sees things. Comedians have been so stereotyped to be just stand-up comedians; people don't try to see the other aspect of what you can do like music-comedy or acting comedy and take them serious. It is just a few people that have been able to break those barriers. For me, I have been able to veer into music production so that people can see that as a comedian, you have other talents and people can recognise those talents in you. There is a Jamie Fox in America that started from a sitcom, became a comedian and still sings beautifully. So, it can also be done here if you have the ability.

Tell us about the musical side of you?
Regarding music, I am into so many things. Right now, me and my crew would be releasing an album on December 1st and it is called All eyes open and we are trying to show that we can still do serious music. What we are doing is a full time job and should be treated as such. The same doctor that treats malaria treats cancer and also assists in giving birth to a baby. Those are different areas a doctor performs his duties. In the same vein, as a comedian, why can't I do every other thing that I can do? As long as I don't try to take another person's piece of cake. I just try to express myself the best way that I can.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Basically, from the environment. When I look around, I see things that inspire me. Then, God is the ultimate inspiration and he talks to me all the time. As far as I am concerned, God is the ultimate comedian. He has it in abundance, that is why he has handed it over to us. So, God is my number one inspiration.

(Cuts in) Well... I am married and I have a baby but usually, I don't discuss my family. Family and business are totally different.

What are your future plans?
I hope to keep blazing the trail for comedy movies. We have started the process, we have done Two black birds and Mumu and very soon, we are doing a new one called Funny movie. I hope to do a whole lot of things. Like I said earlier, I am into production. I am basically becoming a producer that would be pushing things. I will use the brand name to push out other things.

What is your parting shot to your fans?
If you want to be like me, you can't. Just be you, put God first and and work very hard. You will get to your pinnacle and no matter how hard it is, you will get there.

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