His name rings a bell in the entertainment industry particularly the comedy subsector. Gbenga Adeyinka 1st is a showbiz impresario having ventured into humour from his days at the University of Lagos. In this chat with SAMUEL ABULUDE, the comedian speaks about life experiences and other sundry issues.
How do you unwind?
I love to watch movies, football matches and read. I also hang out a lot with a close circle of friends. I play hard because I work very hard.
What was your best and worst moment?
My best moment was when I held my son for the first time. That was when I realized I had become a man. I have had three other most embarrassing moments. The first one was back then when I was in the university. I was sleeping on the bed with my legs wide open. I didn’t know my trousers were torn and my ‘Mandela’ was free. My roommate’s girlfriend knocked and I was feeling too lazy to open the door so I shouted and told her to come in. She came in with two of her friends, all females. My roommate came in about five minutes later to tell me to ‘park’ well because my ‘Mandela’ was free in the open. The most recent was in the United Kingdom for the Nigerian Corner of the Nottinghill Carnival and one of the performers; a female was dressed in such attire that left me bewildered. While pondering what convinced her to dress in such attire, a photographer caught my gaze and many people wondered if I was actually looking at something else. Professionally, I have been embarrassed as well. I had a concert for Star in Ejigbo, Lagos and I drove to Ejigbo in Oyo State and started looking for the venue of the concert only to realise that the event was actually in Lagos.
How have you been able to sustain your brand, that despite the competition in the comedy industry today, you are still relevant?
What has kept me going is the fear of failure. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been thrown into the ocean of relative success and not sustaining it would be a sign of career failure. So, that keeps me going, the desire to forge ahead and break new grounds. The desire to prove people wrong, because a lot of people have said that Gbenga Adeyinka is not funny; he’s not supposed to be doing this. So, the desire to prove a lot of people wrong has kept me going; the desire to build a career also. But most importantly, the desire to continue to feed my family. It’s a hunger-inspired project. I have to continue feeding them and if I fail, then that is going to stop. That’s it basically.
I also believe that every day is a new challenge, not resting on my oars, the fear of failure and preparation. For me preparation is key. If I have an event and you see me preparing, you will wonder ah, shebi na to just go tell dem jokes there? Why are you doing all this wahala? Try out the materials you are going to use on people before you go and say them. If you gauge people’s reactions, you will know that ‘dis one no go work, dis one go work’. Once in a while, when you are working, try some jokes. Preparation does not mean that you should not be spontaneous. There are some times you try some spontaneous things and it works. That is your work as a comedian but by and large, ninety percent and all the greats do it. If anybody tells you they don’t do it; it’s a lie. All the greats do it. If you are going for an event that has to do with doctors, you have to write down at least four jokes that have to do with medicine that you are going to do when you get there. Eventually as you go on, other things come to you. But if you get there and you don’t have any material to start with, and nothing comes to you, then you are messed up.
At what point did you decide you want to do comedy and what was the reaction from your family?
Comedy for me is more like an everyday thing. I only discovered it on the campus of University of Lagos after which I went professional. It’s something that comes naturally to me I try not to force it. When it comes naturally, it’s always a sterling performance. I worked in my uncle’s engineering firm after I left UNILAG but after a while, I felt I wasn’t enjoying my job. It was the regular 9-5 for me and I wanted more and that was when I met Ali Baba, Akin Akindele and later Tee A, the rest as they say is history. I was brought up by a lot of uncles and aunties and as a community project, they were not very happy but I had made up my mind and the fear of failure made me push on. I’m glad I followed my heart and passion. Comedy has opened doors and opportunities that I couldn’t have been able to do. It has also opened me up for other areas in entertainment. I’ve done a couple of movies and God willing I will do more in future.
What’s your take on the just concluded 2015 general election?
I believe it’s a good opportunity to do a manual reset for Nigeria and reach for glory as well as achieve our potentials
Some of your colleagues in the entertainment business gave politics a try, why didn’t you follow suit?
I believe it’s not time yet for me, one must not just follow the crowd because that’s the fashionable thing to do. I surely will God willing but not now.
In a recent post on face book, you wished those setting Nigeria backwards death….?
Yes o! Anybody who wishes Nigeria to die should just die and leave those of us who believe in her to stay the course and progress together. I am passionately and unashamedly Nigerian and I have no apologies for loving my nation
If you were to go into politics which capacity would it be?
I will love be a law maker, and rise through the ranks.
How does it feel being the first comedian to tour the 36 states of the federation and how were you able to break such record?
I feel privileged and humbled. It could only have been God. I was able to do this largely with Star and private gigs.
Are comedians getting a fair share for their efforts in the present industry?
Nobody is getting a fair share in the industry as it is now but like you know Nigerians are resolute. We will keep going at it till we reach our target. I however thank God for the much we have achieved.
How true is this saying that comedians don’t experience failed marriages?
It’s fortunately true but I don’t think it’s the calling as a comedian that makes marriage last or fail. It’s the grace of God and having a partner that is willing to stick with you through the ups and down
What has been the secret of your 20 years of marriage?
God, my wife and my children has been the tonic. They’re been extremely good to me and that has helped me stay the course
How is Gbenga Adeyinka giving back to his society?
My belief is that whatever you do for people is between you and your God and not to be advertised cheaply.
How do you relate with your female fans?
Just the same way I relate with the males. It’s a relationship based on appreciation and respect as well as gratitude for believing in my brand
What’s the most challenging thing a Nigeria comedian faces either on regular basics or occasionally?
Creating jokes, living up to expectation and being taken seriously are our regular challenges.
What are the things people don’t know about you?
I’m a very shy and private person but because of what I do, nobody will believe that.