OMO BABA: Why I don’t do sitcoms…

TELL us about Unknot Your Tie show. Unknot Your Tie is not meant for everybody. It is meant for a selected few and it’s not a show; it is a comedy club. There’s a difference between a show and a comedy club. A comedy club is not just a club; it is a club with membership and few new guys coming in to be able to join. It is where we expose young talent and established ones come to brush up their skill and support.

You’ve been into stand-up comedy business for a while. How has the journey been so far?

It’s been great and wonderful. At least we bless God, we are working. Though I’m not everywhere but I have placed myself in important places. I don’t have to be everywhere. I need to be where it’s important to me at a time. I just explained my show, Unknot Your Tie. It is more difficult to put it together than to have a show once a year. The overhead cost is killing but for the love of what we do; whether there’s a sponsor or not we have to keep it up.

Why the stage name, ‘Omo Baba’?

I do Afrobeat gospel and after a particular ministration, somebody walked up to me and said: So’mo Baba le yin na? Meaning, ‘are you also the father’s son?’ I said, yes. I thought he was referring to my father as an elder in church. He now said, ‘thank God for your life, you don’t have plenty girls on stage dancing for you while you are singing like your elder brother, Femi, and your younger brother, Seun Kuti.’ So, I discovered he was actually talking about Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

So I thought of it, Omo Baba. Who’s my father’s father, my grandfather? Who’s my father’s grandfather, my great grandfather, who’s my great grandfather and who’s now the father of all fathers? And that is God, the creator of heaven and earth. So, He is the father and His son, so ‘I am Omo Baba No. 1’. I know a lot of people think it’s Ali Baba, Soul E Baba, Baba Gboi, Baba Sala, I am the ‘Lord’s Son’.

As a graduate of Industrial and Personnel Management of the Lagos State University, why did you deviate from your course of study?

As I tell people, there’s nothing you want to do in life that you don’t need education. This is a talent; I have to develop my talent. I would’ve studied Theatre Arts but I needed to learn how to manage people. So, studying IRPM is to learn how to manage people while I’m still talented. And I want to reduce the burden on the government to be able to employ other people to work for me.

You got married last December 27. How do you intend to merge comedy and family?

It’s not going to affect anything. When I have to attend to family, I attend to family and when I have to work, I work. One should learn to separate them. So if you are unable to separate those two it means you are not ready to live. You need to separate work and family. I am coping well; it’s been fun all the way.

You released a single; There is God oo, during the past regime. Should we expect another song on the present government, especially at this time of recession?

I didn’t release what was happening at that time. I released the song based on the fact that young mothers of tomorrow got loose early in their lives and became early mothers. I released the song based on the fact that a mother cried. It was not a comical song. If you listen to the song you’ll know it’s not comical but people see it as funny.

People that like to seek knowledge listen to the song, listen to the lyrics and they know that I am trying to pass a message. I used the song to pass a message to ‘Mr Bomber’ that was busy bombing everywhere. I’m not doing it for money. If I feel people need to hear my opinion then I will put it in either a skit, a song or I’ll do it as a stand-up comedy.

A lot of comedians are delving into movie production, should we expect a movie from you soon?

I’ve been acting from day one, so producing one will not be difficult. I don’t join the bandwagon, I don’t follow what’s trending. I do what I feel like doing as a creative person. Though, I’m in support of it as it’s improving commerce in the industry and country. People are making money off every production; the cameraman, the light man, the makeup artiste, the costume, the actors and a lot of them are making money. I’m an actor, writer, musician and a stand-up comedian, so when I feel like producing a movie, I will definitely do.

What do you think of the government intervention fund to creative industry?

It is a welcome idea, if it is open and sincere. I think the government should pump money into it because comedy is a great employer of labour. I think the government should have a look into it, the same way they did for Nollywood. Comedy is an industry of its own. They should just separate us from musicians and actors. Do you know many are happy that they are working with comedians because they make money and put food on their table through God who gave us the talent?

These days, young comedians are putting up skits online and are gaining followership. What’s your take on this?

As a stand-up comedian, I don’t do sitcoms, although I can do it as an actor. You don’t mix up a stand-up comedian with somebody that is doing two minutes’ video on internet. It is when you call us for an event that you’ll know the difference. As said, I am in competition with no one. It is not about the followers on social media, it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality. I have what it takes to be on any international stage in the world which I’ve done over time, not performing to Nigerians in Diaspora alone but foreigners who don’t even understand our culture and pidgin English. Though, it’s a great move as it has gotten people employed. I do skits when I feel like. They are skits that have to do with correcting nuisance in the society, encouraging people to get their voters’ card and lending a voice to my own generation. I just don’t want to be that entertainer that does not have good imprint, I want to be a comedian that makes you laugh and you will also think about what he has said.

Did you learn to be a comedian or it came natural?

Actually, I started with music. I was doing Afrobeat gospel. From there, I discovered that when we finished from every ministration, they would tell us ‘God bless you’. The instrumentalists would be waiting for me outside for their pay and money was not coming. It was only ‘God bless you’ that we would get. I know the ‘God bless you’ is working for me today. That was why I started doing one man show. From there, I delved into stand-up comedy. I developed myself, I read a lot, and watched movies. Education has also helped me greatly in my job. So, it’s a talent given to me by God, but I acquired the necessary skill in-between and made it work for me.

So someone can learn how to be a comedian?

You must have something humorous in you, followed by proper mentorship.  You need mentorship in anything you do. It is something you can improve upon but when you are not funny, you are not funny.

Do you train people to be comedians?

I don’t. I can only encourage them and try to make them be their best. I don’t like people referring to me as ‘My Oga’. I like people referring to me as a colleague, but your number six should tell them that this guy knows something that I don’t. Popular comedian, Prodigy, is under me, they’ve done so well, they’ve be able to step out and gain good recommendation but I don’t say I train them. Anybody close to me will know that I don’t like comedians that steal other people’s jokes. I’m always against it. No matter how you deliver it, I’ll never laugh. And I’ll walk up to you and tell you that you are a thief, and that is like killing.

Have you ever cracked joke and people refused to laugh?

It is not possible and it will never happen, you can’t help but laugh to my jokes.

Who are your mentors in the industry?

People that started stand-up comedy are my mentors like the late Danjuma, Ali Baba, Gbenga Adeyinka, Basketmouth, Okey Bakassi; everybody that started before me has been my mentor and even the younger ones after me, they are also my mentor because they are keeping it real.

How do you get inspiration?

I am a very shy person, I don’t take alcohol and I don’t smoke. I think God has been my greatest strength and inspiration. Self-confidence is what is working for me, everything I do, I do it with positive mind and belief.

Apart from stand-up comedy, what else do you?

I am a musician; I can play more than five instruments. I’m into interior decoration, I can be the head of Human Resources in your company because of what I studied in school but entertainment is what I always want to do. I am also a good footballer or basketballer.

Do you have any word of advice for up and coming comedians?

They should go to school, they should believe in their talent, they should not steal people’s jokes, and they should try to create their own no matter how hard it is. That is the reality of the game. They should not take drugs and always believe they can achieve want they want to achieve without doing drugs. They should be attentive and get mentorship and the sky is just the beginning.

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