AS AN UNDERGRADUATE, I GAVE 20 PER CENT OF MY TIME TO MY STUDIES AND 80 PER CENT TO COMEDY ––T-LAFF
How long have you been in the comedy business?
I have spent about 15 years in the entertainment circle, but seven years in comedy. I started from secondary school and when I mean 15 years of entertainment, I started as a rapper. I was into rap music in secondary school. I finished at Igbobi College in Lagos. Then, I used to rap for my school. I was also in a debating society in school. And when I got into the university, I was into modelling. Way back, there was this agency that was called Fashionistic somewhere in Ojuelegba, then I used to do something with him. I did some calendar jobs. I also went into acting because people said I resembled Segun Arinze.
Was it because you resembled Segun Arinze that you ventured into acting?
No, it is not because I look like him that I ventured into acting. But acting and rapping are two things that I love before comedy came in. I acted some movies such as Heart of Gold, King of the Money, Calamity, among others. When I was into rapping, everyone thought I rapped all through when I graduate. Although I never left acting, but it was comedy that gave me a shot into the limelight. If I tell you, just recently had a comedy show and there was this agency that saw my posture and my handbill and said he wanted me to join his agency. So, I'm practically working for another agency as a model.
As an actor and a model, why did you venture into comedy?
Comedy started like you and I now, as in one on one, gisting. I was normally into MC. Then when I used to come on stage, I used to stroke my friends and the audience. Before I knew it, it turned into a comedy thing, it turned to a playful thing. And one comedian that has really assisted me is Teju Baby Face. He has been there for me, he positioned me and helped shoot me into limelight. There are so many events I have done with him. Teju is one comedian I really love out of them all. I will say everybody has a godfather, Teju is not my godfather but he is a very good friend.
Who is your role model in the Nigeria entertainment industry?
My role models are Nkem Owoh and Latin, the Yoruba actor. The reason is that they are good in what they are doing.
What are your childhood memories?
Well, I'm from a family of five and my mother died in 1998. Things were pretty tough then. I wasn't rascally per se but nobody could ever believe I would become a comedian because I was quiet and gentle. My father was a great disciplinarian. He believed so much in education. I can say it was by the grace and favour of God that I was able to combine comedy with schooling while I was on campus.
How were able to combine schooling and comedy on campus?
It wasn't easy. In those days, my father would give me money and I would use it to stage a show. Those shows would sometimes be successful and sometimes at a loss. But, I never gave up. While I was on campus, I gave 20 per cent of my time to my studies and 80 per cent to comedy because that was my calling. Although I had some carry over courses, I was able to graduate at the time I was supposed to graduate. I had a B. Sc. in Insurance. I later travelled to England, where I read Marketing Management and International Management.
When you ventured into full time comedy after graduation, how did your father feel?
He didn't like it. He told me that I was on my own.
What are the challenges in the business?
One of the challenges is somebody not believing in you. You are trying to say you are funny and somebody is saying 'who says you are funny?'
What class of people do you tickle with your jokes?
The comedy I do is for all classes of people – the poor, the middle class and if the rich come on, better. This is because in the job where you are paid very poorly, you may get somebody in that crowd that would give you a job with a good pay. That is why I try to keep on despite the challenges. For instance, I had my first comedy show in 2004, and then I'm just having my current comedian show which is 'Laugh and Tumble.' You can see the margin. There are times you don't get sponsors and when you talk to people about what you want to do, they don't reach out even after promising to see you. Sometimes, you put your money trying to see if others would come out and from it you wouldn't get more support. It's like that at times. These are the challenges. Having somebody to spur you on, somebody to sponsor you, somebody to believe in you and all that.
How do you feel when you crack jokes and you expect people to laugh and they are serious and stiff?
It happens. When you crack a joke and the audience is stiff, you are even lucky to have climbed a stage than when they would have called you. Every comedian has such a time whereby when you crack jokes, people laugh, there are times when you will come down the stage and you go backstage and you are like no, it wasn't the way you expected them to laugh. You expected them to laugh better and all that. Then for you to have even cracked a joke and nobody laughed is a very normal thing. But as a good comedian, when you crack a joke or you tell a story and nobody laughs, always make sure that you just have to put up a very good work. A comedian should make sure that your first, second, third, fourth, fifth jokes are very hot. Even when people don't laugh at the sixth or seventh one, they would know you actually said something than when you start with some dry jokes.
How do you get your jokes?
I get them from bus stops; I get from public buses; from books and the Internet. My advice to comedians is that they should ensure that when they are telling jokes, they should ensure that your grammar is polished, be fluent and pronounce your words well. Education is important in the circle of comedy. Without good a education, you may not be able to flow with your jokes, especially when you are having a show in a corporate setting. Those kind of people would expect to hear you speak well and all that. Secondly, you can always fall back on your certificate later in life.