Nigerian stand-up comedian Omo Baba has opened up on his facial features, proposal, why he’s been off the radar and more.
See excerpts from his new interview with the Telegraph below.
It seems you’ve been quiet unlike most of your contemporaries
who staged different shows, especially during the festive period. Why
does it appear so?
I don’t know your definition of being quiet because I have been
working. I don’t have a show out there that I call people to showcase or
watch. You can say I am not a show person, but for the regular job
which is anchoring events, I was very active and I am still active.
Also, I go for the paying shows along. Probably, that is where people
are getting it wrong. Though I rallied around some of my colleagues when
they need my support, I am serious about getting paid for the jobs I
do. I rather go to shows that there are no noise, publicity and red
carpet and get paid than the ones that have everything but no pay.
You released some singles some years back and you were once seen acting. Do you still have plans for music and acting?
Like they say, ‘Jack of all trade, master of none.’ For you to have a
say in a particular field, one needs to start with one before
introducing the others. And it appeared comedy came first for me. Most
people don’t even know I have been acting before comedy. In 2009, I had
singles with the late Dagrin, Terry G, 9ice, Eldee among others. I would
soon drop an album. If you take things steadily, then you can be ‘Jack
of all trade, master of all.’ Most of the jobs and invitations I get now
are as a comedian. I am not trying to rubbish Nollywood people or
musicians, but I can act and sing well.
When exactly did you get your breakthrough in comedy?
I would say every step I take is a breakthrough. I think it began for
me when I was asked to play the drums on the assembly in school. It
afforded me the opportunity to show my talent. But becoming prominent, I
didn’t just wake up one morning and found myself there. I was making
strides one after the other.
I conquered the school and I conquered the church. But the major
performance people got to know me with was Night of a Thousand Laughs,
the volume 2 in 2003. I had missed the audition like three or four times
before I finally featured. Though I have been on television doing other
stuffs, you know it is a major show for comedians. So, I started
getting calls that my face was seen on the cover of the CD in the
traffic and so on.
Did you start out as a comedian?
While I was in school, I sang with a band and I painted at my own
leisure time too. Comedy was something I had in me, but I wasn’t the
lousy type. I only talked when it was necessary. So there was a
particular day I was called to take charge of an event as the Master of
Ceremonies at a Christ Apostolic Church in Lagos.
I don’t know the person they had contacted earlier, but he
disappointed them. I did it and I got many people laughing. Right there,
people started asking if I would be available to anchor one or two
events for them. Even when I went deep into comedy, I still didn’t see
it as money- making venture. I was doing it for the love of the art, but
later discovered that it can actually pay my bills.
In what ways did your background influence who you are today?
My parents gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do since it
wasn’t negative. And since they knew that I wasn’t going to paint the
family bad, they supported me. They only asked questions about the time
we would come back, the number of people going, places and security.
Everyone is talented in my house too. Our first born is a successful
journalist, but I normally like to keep things private. Though she is
not in the country anymore, people who know her still know her. I am the
last born; I have two brothers and two sisters.
How were your days as a schoolboy?
I was everything in school. I went to State High School and Oxford
College in Lagos. For my university, I graduated from the Department of
Industrial Relations and Personal Management, Lagos State University
(LASU). I partook in cultural group, choir, basketball, football and
table tennis. But I had a teacher that always reminded me the need to
balance my academics and social life. We called him ‘master’ then.
You recently proposed to your girlfriend of six years; was
this as a result of the pressure that most of your colleagues are
Fans have been asking me since 2002 when I would get married, but I
am the advocate of ‘get married, stay married.’ I feel it is the time
for me to do the right thing, not because I want to be like others.
Marriage is never too late. I see younger and older ones getting married
everyday and I have anchored over 500 weddings, so I believe I can
advise couples even though I am not married yet.
How would you describe your fiancée?
She is simple and easygoing. I try to allow her to do things her own
way. For the marriage, when the time comes people will know.
How do you handle female fans’ excesses?
What I do is to put people where they belong. I am always careful how
I treat people too because they could even be helpful later in shooting
one’s career to the next level. Don’t forget that the person we would
get married to we met them one day and somewhere. A lady could be my fan
today and becomes my business partner along the way too.
How do you cope when coming up with new jokes seem to be impossible?
That is not possible. A painter will remain a painter for life except
you are not creative enough. For me, that low point is doing the wrong
thing at a particular time. For instance, if I am in a gathering of
lawyers, professors and the first thing I say makes no sense to them.
So you must be aware of the calibre of people you are dealing with at
a particular time. Saying a joke at the right time makes the job
easier. I am not just a stand-up comedian; I anchor weddings, product
launch, end of the year parties, dinners, awards, corporate events and a
host of others.
Do you have any memory you don’t like to remember?
When I was working in 2003, a fan told me boldly that I was so ugly. I
felt like dying because I always see myself as a fine boy. So when
people started telling me the same thing, I just told them that even
though I am ugly they can still call me ‘fine boy.’ That was how the
fine boy thing began. It is like a blessing in disguise.
You were among the entertainers President Jonathan met with
recently; was it a case of trying to buy you into his re-election bid?
He demanded to see entertainers in Nollywood, music industry and comedians too. I got a call and I honoured it. That was all.
What was the meeting all about?
To let us know what he has done, his plans if re-elected and other
things about governance. He tried to shed light on some issues he felt
the public had misinterpreted or are misinterpreting.
But frankly speaking, do you think the administration has done enough for the entertainment industry?
I would say yes. It was doing this administration that producers and
directors have access to loans to make movies. It was doing his time we
are experiencing a significant improvement in Nollywood. We are now
rated, number two after Hollywood. When it comes to entertainment, he
has been supportive.
Is there anything you wish to change about yourself?
I would rather not change anything.