Seyi Law is one comedian in Nigeria that luck smiled on when he may never have expected it to happen. After he won the AY Open Mic Competition some years ago, he became a darling of comedy lovers in the country. And since then, he has been on the rise.
After thrilling guests with rib cracking jokes on Easter Monday at 'Explode 2.0' in Lagos, he shared some of his life experience with Nigeriafilms.com. Excerpt.
How has your experience been so far in the comedy business?
It is has been great. If it has not been great, I would not be here. It has been an awesome one. The journey has been good to the glory of God and that is why I am always thankful to God.
What about the challenges?
The truth is that for every entertainer that is coming up, one of the greatest challenges is recognition, we all know that. The truth is if you want to crack your joke, you want people to recognize that you are actually the one that did this. You know sometimes, young comedian crack a joke and just associate it to big names that they know. But is not the fault of the people because they cannot place a face to the joke so they have to associate it with somebody the people already know. It is like when you are walking at the airport and somebody sees you, recognize you and they say, ‘This is I Go Dye’, and then you have to be the one to tell them, ‘Look, this is Seyi Law and not I Go Dye.’
That is one of the major challenges you face when you are coming up as an entertainer. But we thank God, He has helped us to grow, people now recognize us. Though some people probably still do not recognize us; that is so because until they hear some people call your name, they would say you look different from who they see on TV. But we thank God.
How did your family react to your decision to do comedy?
The truth is that I did not really have any reaction from anybody because as at that time, we were going through a lot of serious problems. We had financial issues, I was doing phone call business at Orile bus stop, so there was nobody there to really bother about whether I was going to do comedy, rather they were concerned that whatever I was doing bring in money.
But then, my mom wanted me to do anything responsible. Because when I started out, I wanted to do dreadlocks but my mom disapproved of it. She advised me not to disgrace the family and I thank God today that everyone is happy in the family.
When you proposed to your wife, did she take you serious?
The day I proposed to my wife, she actually thought I was joking. Because it was the night Michael Jackson died, I was at a show and I was performing. When I finished the performance, I had a rousing ovation and I just invited her on stage. I went on my knees and brought out the ring, saying, ‘will you marry me?’ People were shouting and clapping, and she replied ‘Yes.’ But when we were going back home, she said, ‘Don’t use me to do all these your comedy o?’ I told her that ‘I had already decided that I would propose to you. That was actually my proposal.’ It was a wonderful proposal because we had a dinner afterwards that day.
Why do you put on two wristwatches?
The most expensive of my fashion items are my wristwatches. As I am here right now, I probably might be wearing these wristwatches worth over N80,000. Not because I want to brag about it but I just love it. I love wristwatches. I am not really so much of a fashion statement person, I wear anything fitting but I just love good wristwatches. I do not know why I am addicted to them.
Why did you support President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term agenda?
America does the re-basing of their economy every two years, Nigeria has never done it in 20 years and under Jonathan, they did it and found out that entertainment contributes to Nigeria’s GDP to the tune of 1.6%. How many people knew that before Jonathan?
Entertainment, indirectly or directly, has contributed about one million jobs to the Nigerian economy, how many people knew that? Yesterday, I was at the ‘AY Live’, I know how many people worked to make that show such a success. Over 50 people were on standby, working to make that show a success. There are some of the contributions entertainment brings into the economy, which people do not get to see. This is the first president that came out to meet entertainers, talk to entertainers in a forum to know what they need and what they can do to improve the trade. Nobody ever did that before Jonathan.
We do not know what General Muhammadu Buhari is going to do yet. We are all waiting to see what will happen during Buhari’s tenure. I just want to hope it is going to be a wonderful change for all Nigerians. Whether we like it or not, it has happened and we have to support whoever is in government. We all want a better life; that is what everybody is craving for. Some people supported Jonathan because they could feel his direct impact in their businesses.
What is opinion on the proposed moving of entertainment into the Ministry of Tourism and Culture?
That is not the problem of entertainment. Whether we are under ministry of Agriculture or Works or Water Resources, the most important thing is the basic problem of entertainment which is piracy; if well tackled, will function well under any ministry. But if you bring us under Culture and Tourism, it is actually the best of all the ministries. We are praying that we should have piracy tackled to a huge extent so that we can propose Nigeria to the outside world as a country that is viable for tourism. Under Jonathan, the change in Nollywood movies is something we all appreciate. You know the way we comedian diss Nollywood movies, but now, we have little or nothing to say about it. That is because there is a great improvement.
Can you tell us about your most embarrassing moment as an entertainer?
My most embarrassing moment is probably my most glorious moment. It was ‘Asa live in Lagos’ in 2008. I was invited to be the Master of Ceremony, and I came on stage, when I saw people who were seated at the show, I was shocked because the turnout was huge; high profile people. And when I introduced myself, I heard a woman say ‘Who is this? Where is Alibaba? Where is Basketmouth? Is this the person they have brought to entertain us? What sort of thing is this?’ because the stage was close to the audience. I knew the position of this woman in Nigeria and it was as if they took out everything right out of inside of me! I lost my bearing.
I remember that the joke I would normally say at the end of my performances was the joke I started with, I did not get a good laugh. When I wanted to introduce the next artiste that was supposed to perform, I used the word ‘young’ almost seven to eight times. Eventually, when I introduced him, he came on stage, the microphone had issues and they had to work on it.
My cousin, who actually into introduced me to comedy, was at that event too. One man who sat in front of him said, ‘When that idiot came out, they should have used that time to work on the microphone.’ My cousin said if I had come out as at that time to meet him, he would have denied me more than Peter denied Jesus Christ. He said I should have thanked my stars that I did not come out because he would have betrayed me. I remember that I went on my knees later that day and asked for God’s guidance.
The same man who spoke to my cousin that day was the same man that took me on my first international show to South Africa and he paid me N450,000 in 2008. That was a huge amount of money and that was part of the money that I used to buy my first Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). That is to tell you that your greatest moment of disgrace could be your greatest moment of upliftment, of breakthrough. That is why I try to live my life without any form of regret. If anything happens that I do not have a solution, I move on from there, thinking of what next to do. I believe God would and has always seen me through.
Why did you talk about ‘Mama Seyi’ in your jokes?
That is because my mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me before my wife. My wife is probably taking over the role of my mother right now but my mother would understand that it would have to happen that way because I sleep with my wife; we are always in bed together and there is no other person I can lay my hand on in bed but my wife.
But before my wife, there was a Mama Seyi who never treated me the way I joke on stage. But I had to bring something up to make people laugh. I did not even live with my mom while growing up. I lived with my uncle because my mom was far away and she brought me to Nigeria to school. But some of those beatings that I received were from my uncle and I transferred them to her on stage so a lot of people can relate with that. And you know reality does not fail. We all could relate with that as we were growing up. Mama Seyi is one important person that I cannot do without in my life.
What fashion item would you never be caught wearing?
I do not know because sometimes I wear ordinary boxers and I come outside my gate with slippers in Lekki with my protruding stomach and I am saying, ‘Help me call that person selling bread…’ I have lived my life without the celebrity thing getting into my head. That does not work for me because I want to be able to work on the street and do whatever I want to do. I enjoy myself that way. I thank God that He has kept me and I have never changed.
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© 2015 Nigeriafilms.com