Okey Bakassi also wanted my wife
Many people do not know that ace comedian, Julius 'the genius' Agwu is a construction consultant. The River, State-born entertainer means so many things to so many people. To some, he is a stand-up comedian. To others, he a musician while some others see him as an actor.
One thing that is clear about the personality of Julius is that he is multi-talented.
The Theatre Arts graduate from the University of Port Harcourt in this interview reveals how he met his charming wife, his childhood dieting, his construction company, his foray into the entertainment industry and his relationship with fans.
As an entertainer
First, I found out that I had the innate ability to be an entertainer so I started from acting and from acting I delved into comedy. This was how it all started and that is what you see now. I'm still acting and now I make my own movies. I even have one that has not been released even though a lot of people have been asking about it. The promos are there and my products include Cracking ribs, Laugh for Christ's sake' and others . So, I'm still acting. For instance, a group just called me that they want me to be part of a movie they want to shoot. I do virtually everything entertainment, I'm an entertainment practitioner.
Well, my inspiration comes from the environment, things, observations, things I read, things that we feel as human begins, the general society , tropical issues, personal experience, other peoples experiences, just issues generally. For me, comedy is public speaking as it influences opinions. It is not just about making people laugh; it is also a vehicle for social change. So I try to make my jokes as dialectic as possible and I try to pass a message so that while people are laughing they are also thinking deeply.
Practice and rehearsal
It just flows. Since I started comedy I found out that I'm supposed to be practicing and rehearsing. I'm supposed to rehearse , but it just flows. I believe that God has given me the power of spontaneity, so when it just comes it comes like a narrative. You become more natural,but if you practice you may have an inhibition . You forget what you are about to say. Take for instance, I could be telling a joke and it will lead to anything from there to another. At times I can even ask the audience what I was even saying before or the audience will remind me that I haven't finished the first joke I started. Then I can now go back. So, it's not that I practice … if you practice you would have a tailored way of telling your jokes.
Most embarrassing moment in life
Yes! It was at a burial. I told a joke and “dead body” refused to laugh… the corpse refused to laugh. I'm serious the corpse just laid down there looking.
Secrets of success
Well, life generally for me is to work and progress, so I just do my things as they come and I try as much as possible to always keep the brand alive. That is the truth about my success ; no matter how bad it is especially now that we are in trying times. People have now made it an issue that there is a recession forgetting the fact that we were all born during recession, we have always lived in recession and we have existed in recession. America and the rest of the developed nations now make it look obvious that there is a global economic meltdown, but to me we have been living it for ages. One of my major fears is failure, so I don't venture into things I know I would not succeed in. I have so many ideas in my head, so many things I want to achieve but I take them as they come. I do the ones I can do and leave the rest for God to take control of.
Challenges in the industry
Everybody has challenges but the thing about the industry is that everybody has his own fans. There are people out there who do not like Julius Agwu. I can never deny that… I can never live and feel that everybody must like me. Everybody has an opinion; an impression about the other person and that is how life is . Some people can just be there and dislike you. There are people you consider are not funny but they have dead hard fans. So, I do not consider that as a challenge but there are times you mention Julius and everybody would say, no I beg, I cannot pay him because of the brand which they feel is too expensive for them to handle. Well, I wouldn't say, because I do not do events everyday that means I'm losing out. No! What I think is that we are now encouraging a lot of young people into the industry. So what I did is to step up my game and also step up my fees to help the young ones to balance their charges. For instance , if I were to take peanuts for a pay, everybody would want to go for Julius which they know will add value to their show but then it is an open market, so we have to give others the opportunity to also grow. So, when your price is up, some people still go for it. Every brand has its own class, level and identity.
Comedy has denied me contracts
Yes it has. I have a construction company, so I decided to go and see my governor for a contract but when I got into his place and tabled the issue, Governor Chibuikem Rotimi Amechi said Julius I know you for comedy so bring some other issues for discussion. Is that not a price. That day I got so touched and didn't find it funny. I even tried to persuade him but he went laughing and asked, “what do you want to construct, is it comedy? But then, he is still a good man and thank God others patronize my company. Also in the banking sector where so many banks have non- performing loans, none of these people invested in the entertainment industry. Once these debtors come up to these banks with oil and gas proposals, they are given loans.Banks don't care whether it is palm oil so far as they see oil and gas they will give you loans, but God is now paying them back.
No rebranding without entertainment
Everywhere in America there is a theatre where people sit and watch shows but Abuja our capital city doesn't have any and in Lagos where we have, the theatre is in total decay though we still try our best. Now let's count how many entertainment centers there are in the country… not even one but thanks to God for what the “breeze brothers” are doing. We cannot count how many individuals or companies have impacts on this industry and yet the government is there in Abuja condemning District Nine, a movie that is a product of entertainment. They complain about the Sony advert that ridiculed Nigeria. That's an audio-visual product, it is still entertainment, a television commercial. In the issue of rebranding, entertainment has a major role to play. I have been doing my jokes cracking ribs for four years now and this year it took place in London and I came to realize the importance of Virgin Nigeria because they are the only airline that has been sponsoring entertainment. They have supported the entertainment industry so well and I'm sure we comedians have not done our best to support them even in this time of tribulation.
How Okey Baskassi and I dragged my wife
My wife and I met at a wedding. Actually, a friend of hers was getting married and Okey Bakassi and I were to compere at the wedding. My wife was part of the bridal train, looking very beautiful…a slim looking girl like an angel. Okey and I started arguing over who would toast her. Then Okey wasn't married. He did not know that I made a fast move and started writing love letters to her; then I could write love letters very well. After that wedding, we lost contact until the day my father died on March 29, 2002. I was informed that my father was hospitalized and would be discharged soon, so I traveled home to pay his hospital bills. But when I got home I discovered that there was a crowd in my house, which indicated that my father was dead. I got pissed-off and drove off to Port Harcourt town to drink myself to stupor at a club called D-gate with some friends. As we were drinking, I became pressed and headed for the rest room. There I saw my wife again, and she came with her uncle to the club because it was her birthday. From there we became friends again and one thing led to the other and now we are married.
I receive calls from people for jokes
People believe I carry comedy around. Most of them even come to ask me to tell them jokes. Some send me text messages requesting that I tell them jokes because they are in bad mood and this is actually why I decided to start the monthly comedy 'cracking ribs' though it is an annual show. I always receive calls from people to tell them jokes but they forget that it is business not just for pleasure. For instance, I cannot go to any bank and ask them to give me money neither will I see a boxer and ask him for one box. Jokes are my business and for me to render my service, it must be paid for. However, there are times when I receive such calls and decide to tell such callers jokes but who pays?
My bad part
It might interest you to know that I'm quick tempered. I can be exciting, lovable but I'm temperamental because I always want to see results especially while working, though I also have been asking and believing God for a change of temperament.
Why celebrity marriages fail
My wife is not a celebrity and I believe so much that a man has to marry someone he loves, cherishes and someone who loves him in return. In marriage, there will be disagreements just like in every family. Imagine one quarreling with the father, mother or even siblings over certain issues let alone someone you are married to, who is not of the same parents. Every husband and wife grew from different environments, had different perception or view to issues and would always have their differences until they understand and are able to study themselves well. It is wonderful that individuals of different backgrounds and genes become one due to love. While in the university, I propounded a theory on relationships. Every relationship whether with your parents, siblings, children, girlfriends or wives or even with God depends on what both parties put into it. That word “Put” means P for patience, U for understanding and T for tolerance. So, everyone needs to put in…in order to receive. This theory has been my guide. I need to be patient, to understand and to tolerate my wife all the time. So, there will be disagreements but you disagree to agree.
But out of anger people take some decisions that they regret. There are marriages that would have ended if they did not understand this. The devil will always want to see you're unhappy but if you move away and settle down somewhere you will see that certain decisions we take can be better by just keeping quiet or can be improved by just saying sorry, because you cannot predict your next marriage if you end the present one. There are those who have had like three failed marriages or four. Any way, people have different reasons for quarreling but they should place a limit on it.
Niger-Delta, home of comedians
Yes this is, because we have been looking for how to express ourselves; express how they are suppressing us, how they have been taking what we are known for which is our oil. So, we look for different ways to keep our body and soul together and that is by talking to ourselves, by having fun and we have been laughing at ourselves. Don't forget we are a minority looking for avenues to speak out and we see comedy as a medium.
My favorite food, colour and most expensive item
I prefer to swallow because that is what my mum brought us up with. In the morning utara, in the afternoon garri and soup and in the night we soak gari and drink water. That was balanced diet to my mama but as I grew up, someone advised them about beans and now if I go back home they want to cook beans but how can I grow again? I like lilac but I like combining colors.
The most expensive thing in my wardrobe are my pants because they protect my family.
Story by nollywoodgists.com