Suit doesn't suit me, so I don't wear it – Omobaba
Oluwafemi Ademola Fagade, otherwise known as Omobaba, is one popular comedian that has, within a short period, stood out as a great talent. With his jokes, ribs are often cracked and fans sent into
paroxysm of laughter. In this interview spiced with jokes, Omobaba tells FUNMI ELUGBAJU how he came into the comedy business, his source of inspiration and the plans he has for the future. Excerpts:
You are popularly known as Omobaba. How did you come about the name?
Yeah, that's what they say, they say my name is Omobaba but my parents said I am Oluwafemi Ademola Fagade Kelvin Junior. Some people decide to call me fine boy, some say I am the most handsome and some call me sexy, but now I am Dr. Omobaba No. 1 because I administer laughter to heal people.
Give us an insight into your background?
I am from a family of seven. From daddy and mummy, I have two elder brothers and two older sisters. My dad has just one wife and that is my mum. I am the last born. I am from a Christian background and I went to school like every other human being should. I went to a mixed school and when I say mixed, I don't mean boys and girls school, I mean pako and butty school. I went to New Methodist International Children School; I attended New Oko Oba Children School and then State High School. I ended up in Oxford School, Lagos. I had my BSc. in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, Lagos State University hoping to end up somewhere in Oxford State University London.
Take us back into your early days in comedy?
Well, it was a bit cumbersome when I started. We all wanted to know how to get there and who to meet and talk to. My sister was quite popular, she was a journalist way back and much sort after during the Abacha regime. So, she had to leave the country so that they didn't get her arrested with her biro. I didn't really talk to her that time maybe to meet one or two people. Also, my aunt is a renowned actress in Nollywood and I didn't walk up to her. Her name is Bukky Ajayi. I didn't tell her I was interested in comedy, and so I just started doing my own thing. I started from school, not really comedy. I was into a lot of things when I was in school. I was in the school choir and drama group and was into what guys will usually shy away from. I played basketball, football and represented my school in tennis competition. So, facing the crowd was not difficult. In church I was in the choir and drama groups. When I got to the university I just discovered that it was easy for me to do comedy. There was one occasion, and we were waiting for someone in church to come and anchor a particular programme. The MC did not turn up on time and they said I could do it and that was how I anchored the event and from there I started cracking somebody's jokes. That was Muhammed Danjuma, may his soul rest in peace. Some people walked to me and said they wanted me at their programme. From there, I started. The popularity started from galaxy television. Nicholas Anu Kantin gave me the opportunity, may his soul rest in peace too. He was the first guy that showed me on TV and from there, Nite of a Thousand Laughs and other big events followed.
How long have you been in the industry?
I've been doing this since 2001. As a Christian I don't do vulgar jokes, I do clean jokes, I don't drink and I don't smoke, some people say I womanise, but no women mannise me. Sometimes it's difficult to get some certain jokes that you need to show your faithfulness to a particular brand, maybe alcohol brand which I don't do. Not that I don't anchor their event but there are sometimes when you are asked probably to take it and since you don't do it you look for a way out of it. Sometimes you are being needed for a particular job and at the same time some people are making them to think that you are not in the country whereas you are in Nigeria. All those things boil down to the adage that says that the water that you will take will not flow past you. My job is my job. I am just cool and easy.
Who are your role models in the industry?
God is my role model. A role model is someone you want to be like. I don't want to be like anyone. I want to be myself, I don't know whether I will be limiting Gods work by saying I want to be like this person. Maybe that's the least that I will become in life. I have greater things to achieve. The person might have won 10 Grammy, I don't know if I will want to win 200 and I am saying I want to be like that person. I just have people that I love and appreciate. People that I know are truly talented, they are many, I can't name them. The list is long. From Ali Baba to Tee A, to Gbenga Adeyinka, to Basket Mouth, to Seyi Law to many new wicked funny guys now. But I am saying I have got role models as someone that I would see and want to be like and move ahead which is God. I don't want to be like God, but He his my role model. He has all the features I desire.
You just won an award. How do you feel about it?
It's the African Film award, UK. I won the best comedian in Africa. That's the second for the year, after the Nigerian future awards. I feel very great.
What is Omobaba up to at the moment?
Presently as you can see I am playing a game. But I am a simple human being. You need to get close to know me. I don't believe in having a trumpet and not blowing it. I will blow my trumpet but I won't want to blow it so loud to disturb the other neighbours. I make money from the society so I will want to give back to the society. I came across one or two of my friends and we decided that people don't have water, lets come together and see how we can give people water without going to a company for sponsorship. We are doing this from what we make. We are sinking boreholes for people around us that need water. I wake in the morning and open my tap. It's so easy for me and there are some people that still go around fetching water. This is something I did when I was growing up. I carried it in 25 litres and I didn't need to go to the gym. I am already registered. We are thinking of giving people 10 boreholes before next year November, from one local government to the other. The challenges we are having now is that they think we want to contest and its politically driven. We are having that as a challenge and some landlords that are selling water, they don't want something free.
Why do you think comedians recycle their jokes?
Nothing can stop that, it's called material, you don't expect me to use materials ones and throw them away. It is done all over the world. Stand up comedy is not Nigerian culture, it's an American culture, those that we copy they do it too. From the likes of Jamie Fox, Eddy Murphy and a whole lot of other guys. Recycling is turning something from old to new, so there is nothing bad in it. The material here today I would have added one or two things to it but you might not take note. A 2face will always do his African Queen anywhere and he will always do his Enter the place anywhere. If Psquare should sing Danger today and people are not dancing the way they should, they will go ahead and sing If you do me I do you. It's what we actually took out time to create and all you should ask us for is to give you more and we would definitely work on that. But don't tell me to drop a particular material it took me six months to compose and there are some that are very spontaneous, that we don't even remember again. Someone like me, I don't write down my jokes which is not good for a comedian. If I don't remembers some, on getting on stage I see one or two things that is funny. That does not mean yabbing my crowd.
What are the problems comedians face in the industry. Are there any specific ones?
It's not Omobaba that is going to correct that. The idea of my paddy paddy in the industry is getting too much. This is where the Americans have the upper hand. Eddy Murphy will call Jamie Fox and Jamie fox will be paid by the sponsors but in Nigeria there is nothing like that and when it is Jamie Fox show, it is only Jamie Fox that is on stage. You will just have one or two new guys come on stage. I am not the show type. I am the only comedian that has been in the game for over seven years without any show and I am a household name. There is nothing bad in it but I think if you are doing it, let it be your show, don't let other people steal it from you.
Who is your inspiration?
Jesus Christ. The person is actually unknown. It is the person that said Femi you can do this and I find myself doing it too.
You are obviously not married. Is there any woman in your life?
I am very single (laughs). I am waiting for you outside this interview to see how God will help us. There is actually someone I am seeing. You see one and there are a hundred on the waiting list.
How do you cope with publicity and the media?
I don't think you have heard a scandal about Omobaba having dumped a girl and getting another one or getting someone impregnated and becoming the father later. By the grace of God I have been scandal-free. For someone like me media presence is not really on me. The attention is not really on me but if I want it I know I will get it but I don't need it. Sometimes I read some things in the media and I wonder why they won't ask me first before publishing a wrong story. For example I read one like two weeks ago that finally God has answered my prayers of visiting the Queens land. Getting a visa to get to London, it is very embarrassing because if you want to count the top seven of eight comedians that first left the shores of Nigeria to get to the queens land, Omobaba will be one of them, so it is so embarrassing for someone to say that I just got a visa like two weeks ago. You have my number and my contact on Facebook. I think they should have asked to be sure. A renewal is different from getting a visa. Stories like that I just pity my parents because people just go to them and congratulate them and they keep calling me and congratulating me. I usually ask for the award or the visa and when they say both, I just tell them thank you and let it go. I am waiting for the worst. For every controversy you get more popular and one thing I have noticed about you is that when people don't talk about you, then you are not relevant. Whether you like it or not, Timaya is relevant, if you like keep talking about him, he will come out with a new hit track and make his money. You are just making the guy big.
I noticed that most comedians wear suits to their events. Why is that?
I don't know why they are doing that. For someone like me I wear what suits me for that particular day. You can't expect me to be going out in suits in this criminal sun now because I am going for a meeting with the MD of Oceanic Bank. I am not a banker; I am a comedian; I am self-employed; I can wear a shirt and still look good. You don't expect me to be going for a football match and I am wearing a suit. I will wear a T-shirt. You don't expect me to be going for an engagement and wear a suit. I will wear native. So, it has to do with the fashion idea of that particular person. That's the way most people see it - re branding; corporate; I must brand myself. The idea of dressing well is not only about wearing suit. I can wear a T-shirt, jeans and a good footwear and still look nice.
How do you get the materials you use for your show?
Everywhere and anywhere, anything around me is funny. The difference between a comedian and a regular person is that what you take seriously, he takes seriously but brings out the humour in it. But you don't even bother to think of the humour aspect.
Apart from comedy what do you do?
I am a creative person. I choose not to work for anybody. I sing. My single is out. I have a song that featured Da Green and Terry G. I write articles and I do interiors. I am also into arts and a lots more.
How rich are you?
I don't know how you judge being rich but I can say that I am wealthy. It is different. I am very wealthy. I have got what money cannot buy.
What thing can't you do without?
My phone because that is where the money comes from.
Who is the one person you will love to meet dead or alive?
If it is possible for me to renegotiate with God I will like to meet God one on one so that we will go back to the Garden of Eden and correct one or two things about Adam and Eve. This is to prevent you and I from stressing ourselves to make money like we are doing. We will just be free and playing in the garden. Everyone will just be enjoying.
Where do you relax?
I'm not the outgoing type. I take time out at home and play a lot of games to relax. I read a lot, I have my library inside my house. If I want to hang out once in a while I will do it at Ikeja axis because I stay on the Mainland. The idea of clubbing or going out is such that it shouldn't be a 20 mins drive from the house. If it is too far, you endanger your life, you endanger your future and your talent. I just take things the way they come, stay around friends and gist.
What food will make your day?
Just give me Efo riro and pounded yam, you will not only steal my heart; you will win my world; that is if you can prepare it well.
What are you doing for Christmas?
It's unfortunate I'm not spending my Christmas here but I will be back two days after. I want to go and rest, just me alone and come back in the New Year to celebrate with my family. It has been my culture, I don't like working Christmas or new year.
What message do you have for your fans?
On a final note, for those that drink during Christmas period and drive, the simple message is that you will die and for those that drive and drink you will die. So, if you need your life drink responsibly, don't drive while drinking and don't drink while driving and always remember that there is no extra life. When you are gone you are gone. Also, show love. This is not giving your MD that has all the money in the world hamper, there are people that are hungry and will appreciate that, give to people that don't have.
Story by www.nollywoodgists.com