I LIVED UNDER THE BRIDGE IN LAGOS FOR SEVERAL MONTHS...I EVEN PAID RENT THERE ––TALKATIVE
You said you grew up without your father. Who raised you?
My father died when I was barely five years and my mother abandoned me and my siblings. For me, growing up wasn't easy at all. I was raised by a comedian I liked. This was in Edo State. He paid my school fees up to secondary school level. I later enrolled in Edo State University, Ekpoma (now Ambrose Ali University), Ekpoma, where I read International Relations. I never visited my state except last year because there was nobody to take me there. My father died and my mother remarried.
What have you been doing since leaving school?
I'm a comedian and a script writer. I also produce films once in a while. For instance, I produced a film titled, House Help with Andy Best. House Help is doing very well in the market. I'm also producing another film right now. I wouldn't want to disclose the name. But it's going to be a bomb.
When did you hit the limelight?
I think it was in 2004 when I did Laugh and Jams for Basket Mouth. I also did Night of a Thousand Laugh for Opral William. All this shot me into the limelight.
How did you get the name Talkative?
The name Talkative has been my stage name. The name actually was given to me by a friend, or should I say, a big aunty in the industry then in Benin. She worked for ITV; she is now in the NTA. She is known as Becky Madujemo. She is the one who gave me the name.
Weren't you annoyed when she gave you the name?
It was really an insult she gave to me, but I just picked it as a name and I felt it was good. When she was with ITV, she was a newscaster then and sometimes while she was casting the news, I would be making noise behind the camera and one day, she lost her temper and asked, 'Who is that boy that makes noise every now and then? Take him out, I don't like him, he is a Talkative.' The name caught my fancy; I picked the name and since then honestly, the name has taken me far. So I have no regrets bearing Talkative. I like the name so much.
Don't you feel insulted when your fans call you Talkative?
Sometimes, my young fans seldom call me Talkative because they feel it is an insult. But I don't mind. Even if they do, it's my name. That name Talkative rings a bell in the entertainment world. No matter where you go in this country and you mention my name, my fans will know who you are talking about.
What's your signature in the comic circle?
My smile. I have this peculiar smile I wear whenever I'm not on stage. I'm naturally a shy person really. So when I'm not on stage, I try to cover up my shyness. You hardly can see me frown. I think my signature is the cosmetic smile I wear when I'm not on stage.
You said you are a shy person. How do you face your fans on the stage while you are cracking jokes?
When I hear, 'Let's welcome on stage Talkative,' I become a different person entirely. That is when the madness starts. When I climb the stage and I hold the microphone, that is when the talkativeness right inside of me begins to blossom. But when I'm not on stage, you are seeing Jeffery, the shy Jeffery.
Can one be a successful comedian in such a country like Nigeria?
It's not easy. But when you are very good, when you are creative, when you can package yourself, when you can endure some things, you will be successful.
What are those things?
There are times I tell myself that I want to be collecting N150,000 for each show or N200,000. There are times I tell myself that I wouldn't want to attend shows without an invitation and my name being written boldly on the card, or the handbills or posters.
Have you been abiding by these rules?
Yes. I try to abide, but at times I stray when my very close friends and colleagues call me on the phone, trying to explain to me why they couldn't include my name on the posters or handbills. I try to see reason with them and I go but I don't do that often.
There are more than 300 comedians in Lagos alone. So what are the difficulties you face trying to be the best?
We dey plenty o. I know this very well. We have a whole lot of comedians, but a few stand out as comedians.
Are you one of those few?
I think so and I thank God for that (laughs). That is what a comedian benefits when he is very good, when he is very creative and I think I'm good and creative. I also try to carry my fans along and that is why I'm this popular. Another thing is no matter how bad a comedian is, he must have a fan that likes him.
Who is your role model?
I have many. Gandoki is one of them, he is extremely good, he is crazy. Basket Mouth is superb. I won't also forget to mention I Go die, who brought me up. He was the one who paid my school fees throughout my secondary school.
What have you gone through in life?
I was a houseboy in Port Harcourt. I worked as a houseboy there for one-and-a-half years. I was paid N1,400 every month till the year 2002. From there, I came to Lagos. I never knew anybody the person I knew when I came to Lagos had moved when I got to his house. I was stranded and because I was desperate to make it in Lagos, I did not go back to Port Harcourt to continue with my houseboy work. So I had no place to sleep. I was living under the Jibowu bridge. That was in 2002. I slept there for two months.
Can you relive your experience there?
It was terrible; it was an ugly experience. The funny thing was that I was even paying rent under that bridge where I was staying. I was paying on a daily basis. It wasn't free. I used to sleep very late when the noise had subsided. I woke very early in the morning, to do some menial jobs to make a living. I was carrying my scripts around looking for who would buy them. If I remember then and the mansion I live now, I smile. Life can be funny you know.
Where were you taking your bath then?
There was somewhere I used to take my bath. That was why I used to wake up very early.
Now you are comfortable; you have a car now?
I have many cars now, I live in a mansion.
When you drive around that bridge you used to live, how do you feel?
I do give God the glory. I have never ceased thanking God. When I left the bridge, I moved into a church, a Redeemed Christian Church of God in Falolu. I lived there for a while before my destiny blossomed. And up till today, I still worship in that church. That was where God met me and I have been serving Him diligently. He doesn't fail. God wiped off my tears there.
Who is the woman in your life?
I'm not married, but I'm into a relationship. I try not to defile myself or offend God in what I'm doing. Hopefully, I will get married, but I'm waiting for the Lord for that. When the time comes, nothing will stop me. I hope to still further my education.
You said somebody paid your school fees throughout your secondary school. Have you tried to do that for somebody now that the Lord has blessed you?
Yes, I'm sponsoring three people right now. They are not even related to me.
How do you see your mother, who abandoned you and your siblings and remarried when your father died?
Well, I still love her. She is still my mother and the Holy Book I read every day teaches me not to pay evil back with evil. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I still love her and I will be willing to help her whenever she is in difficulty.