I stick to the tenets of stand-up comedy and the primary tenet is being able to stand and crack jokes and make people laugh for 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you don’t have that ability then it’s something you should strive for as a stand- up comedian.
I try to keep it fresh, I try to tell the jokes based on what is going on in the society so people enjoy the reality I bring into my delivery. So I think that’s what makes me accepted.
There was a time we used to see you at a lot of shows and events, but we don’t see much of that anymore, what explains that?
I try to keep it real. They say too many cooks spoil the broth, so you can’t see me in every show, and too much circulation makes the price go down. Most of these shows have pretty much become the same thing, so it’s like garbage in garbage out.
So I don’t want to go on stage everyday repeating myself saying the same old jokes every time. So, if I don’t have new stuff I don’t see any reason why I should come out, that’s it basically.
How about when your industry friends need you to lend a hand?
This is a business, if I say I am doing Bovi Man on Fire, I stand and I entertain people for one hour, every other person who calls a show by their name should be able to stand and entertain the world for one hour at least.
If you are doing a franchise show like Night of a Thousand Laughs, that’s not written in somebody’s name, you don’t expect me to be on every show that carries a comedian’s name and he is featuring every Tom Dick and Harry.
It doesn’t work that way. We need time to express ourselves as stand-up comedians, so I can’t go on stage and you tell me ‘oh you have five minutes or you have only 10 minutes when this is what I love doing.’ I want to get on stage and talk for 30 minutes, I want to go on stage and talk for one hour.
If I don’t have that then you are shortchanging the audience, you are shortchanging me as well and it is a business, you must not forget that it’s a business so I can’t do charity work for everybody.
Let’s say I am appearing on your show and I am cracking jokes and people go home and gain satisfaction from me cracking jokes and you that called the show by your name, all you did was introduce one or two people and you go home with all the money, that’s robbery. That’s stupid.
Let’s also talk about this perception that there are cliques in the comedy business, AY has his people, Bovi seems to be permanently with Basketmouth and Julius Agwu has his own acolytes. It’s only Ali Baba that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere, why is this happening?
I don’t know if there are cliques, I don’t know if there are not cliques, all I know is for comedy as a business, what counts is who is funny and who is not. When you have a show and you go out there the audience wants to know who is going to make us laugh. They don’t want to know w h o belongs to this party or who belongs to this clique, nobody is interested in that.
T h e r e a r e people who I don’t see every day, I mean comedians who I don’t see every day, when we see we have a good time, we have a good laugh, we have a drink or two and we go our separate ways. I don’t need a fellowship, I don’t need to belong to anybody or any camp to express myself as a stand-up comedian.
If that’s what obtains probably the whole Lagos will say you are not from Lagos, so don’t stay here. So, if there are cliques I don’t see the essence of it. Basketmouth is my friend, he is my very good friend, so I would rather spend time with Basketmouth than someone who is not my friend. If that makes us a clique fine, anything they want to call it they should call it but the bottom line eventually is who is funny and who is not.
That you belong to a certain group or clique does not make you funny, you get what I am saying?
Recently there was jibe you released on Freeze, the onair- personality and then it began to trend that you said the man ‘is a lion on social media but a cat in real life’, was that supposed to be a joke?
I never said that, I posted a picture and named it freeze. Any interpretation you want to give to it is fine. If you feel I was talking to Freeze it’s fine, if you feel I wasn’t talking to Freeze, it’s fine, but basically I said “this made me freeze” that was a sentence. Freeze as in I froze in shock.
You lost your mum a while back, how are you getting over that?
I am trying, I am healing every day you know I’m trying to get over it but she lives in me. So, I will accept that. There is nothing I can do but move on.
Are you beginning to find traits of yourself in your son?
Yes, I mean he is my son.
I mean traits like being funny?
I don’t know; it’s too early, he is interesting. My kids are interesting you know, they are an interesting bunch and that’s fine by me.
What does Bovi do back home?
Actually I play. I just play with my kids and I read
Do you do any chores?
Hmmm, not really, I take my children to school and ‘umm’ there is no time for that, I have people who do that. Every once in a while I cook. I spent all my bachelor years cooking and I continued that but if I have something that I love that I feel they won’t do it perfectly well for me, I do it myself and share for everybody.
What has been the most embarrassing cooking blunder you have ever committed?
Will I say embarrassing or broke? When I was living alone, I was so broke I used to buy groundnut oil from the market in this water bottle. So, there was this day I was broke, I had this head of yam left. This was like 2005 by the way. I had this head of yam, I had some slices of tomatoes and one cube of Maggi you know it was the last supper, so I diced everything put oil and started to fry it.
But the oil was foaming so, I went back to the oil and I checked and I saw it was engine oil. How it got into my kitchen, I didn’t know and I had tasted it, so I pretty much fell sick and that was what I was supposed to eat that evening. I was so broken.
I just went outside, I had one cigarette, I lit it and I smoked it on an empty stomach and I cried. So, that was my most embarrassing situation. It would have been better to eat my raw tomatoes and my head of yam, but I wanted to make a sauce. That was how my last supper was wasted.
Most Nigerian celebrities have their grass to grace stories, what’s yours?
To be honest with you, I have never suffered, I have always been lucky I have always been favoured, I have always been blessed. Every obstacle I have had was temporary and even if it didn’t seem temporary I lived in the moment, I cherished it because I knew that where I was going would not going to be like that forever, you get.
I was privileged to be born in a home where I could get quality education, parental love, I went to good schools, I was monitored by my parents, I have been lucky.
I worked once, I got a good job working for Richard Mofe- Damijo, when I left I went on TV, from TV I was successful. Everything I have touched has been successful, I have been favoured. I can’t even complain, I don’t really have a grass to grace story. I can’t readily remember that moment when things were readily down because I have a lot of positive energy.
There is also a part of you that loves soccer Yes, absolutely!
Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, even my teammates were at my movie premiere ( a movie dubbed ‘It’s Her Day’)
Yeah I do, I am a member of an amateur team made up of lawyers, medical doctors, pastors, stock brokers, bankers, entertainers. Frank Edoho is in my team, so yeah.
Are you a fan of any of the leagues?
Yeah I am an Arsenal fan for long and when Nwankwo Kano joined I became happy too. I have always been an Asernal fan.
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