Akpobome Ogude, popularly called Ogus Baba, is one of the South-East’s most popular comedians. He tells ‘NONYE IWUAGWU how he got into comedy and why he relocated to Lagos.

Why are you called Ogus Baba?

It is my stage name. It is actually an abbreviation of my surname which is Ogude. I am from Delta State, a native of Ole in Isoko South. I was born and bred in Warri. I schooled in Warri and was packaged in Enugu State.

What do you mean by package?

I spent most of my university days in Enugu State. I actually attended Enugu State University. The first phase of my career was in Enugu State. I understand Igbo language when it comes to money. I understand ego; it means money. I also understand A huru m gi na anya, which means ‘I love you’. I normally use the phrase to ‘toast’ girls back then.

What did you study in school?

I read Mass Communication.

So, why aren’t you in the media?

I am a presenter. I used to present for Cosmo FM in Enugu State. That was what brought me to regional limelight. At a point, I became one of the most celebrated comedians in the South-East because of Cosmo FM, which is the first private radio station in the South East. I presented a comedy programme for some time. I am still a full-fledged Cosmo personality till date.

You decided to move to Lagos because you wanted to be in the limelight?

I have done some national shows. I have been in comedy business for about 11 years. I have done major shows like Made in Warri, which was organised by Richard Mofe Damijo. I am about the only comedian that has featured in all the editions. I have done some other shows here in Lagos. I decided to move to Lagos because this city is the ‘Champion’s League’ of entertainment. I have to reach out to a wider audience. That was basically why I came to Lagos. There is high demand here. I have done very well in the East and my colleagues felt it was high time I gave the people here a bit of what I was giving to the people in the East. They felt I was just too comfortable in the East. Then again, I had to come here to confront more challenges and get to a higher position in my career.

But the competition is likely to be very stiff because there are many comedians in Lagos .

I have my own style of comedy. I am not new in the business. I started with the likes of I Go Dye, I Go Save and Basket Mouth. I think those that should be scared of competition should be the younger ones. I am not young in this business. If I should say this, I have the experience. I also believe I have the gift. For about six years, I don’t work on myself; I just go to the stage and do my thing. I have my style of comedy, which I believe most of my colleagues in the industry do not have. I am a spur-of-the-moment kind of comedian. If you call me, I can just go on stage and do my thing. And I do realistic comedy. I know how to ‘yab’ very well. Coming to Lagos is the right thing for me.

How did you get into comedy?

It is just a gift. I believe that talent is a gift from God. I discovered this talent when I was still in secondary school in Warri. A friend of mine said I was very funny. We were very young then. We were doing a pattern of comedy called ‘Mock News’. I Go Dye and I Go Save were one pair while Akass and I were another. We never knew we were going to make money from what we were doing back then. We were just having fun.

So when did you take it as a profession?

At the university, I organised some departmental shows. I would travel from Enugu to Port Harcourt for shows. When I saw that people appreciated what I was doing, and money was coming into my pocket, I decided to continue with this instead of hustling. I don’t struggle to make people laugh. I am happy when I make people laugh. Making it a profession was just like waking up in the morning and discovering that you have food on your table. It was that easy.

Are there times you perform on stage and people don’t laugh?

Yes. It happens. I call them bad times, and those times surprised many people. I am a man who believes in what he does. I believe that I will conquer some days and fall some other times. But I always know that each time I fall, I will rise again. I have gone on stage in a big concert where guys were expecting me to break some ribs but I just flopped. I discovered that I didn’t do the right thing. But after that day, I realised that I could still come up again and work harder. That was what I did and it worked for me. I have not flopped since.

Has any of your jokes put you in trouble?

Yes. I have cracked a joke about the police at a wedding and some policemen wanted to shoot me after the show. I was so lucky that day. I had beg them and, then, tell them it was just a joke.

Comedians now copy other comedians’ jokes, what can you say about that?

We have to expect that in this industry. We have more people in the industry now. We may be creative but some of us have more shows and events than others. You cannot create jokes every day. Again, it is even difficult to discover the person that created some of these jokes. I might get an inspiration to do one joke and one of my colleagues would be thinking about the same thing. Using another comedian’s joke is not proper but that is something we should expect in the industry for now.

Did your parents support you when you decided to become a comedian?

They were happy when I started. They just accepted me the way I am. From the first day I picked up the microphone, they have been very supportive. My mum used to give me money to travel for my shows, and my dad was always encouraging me. These days, if we want to go on stage, we put on expensive suits. It wasn’t like that in the beginning. We used to wear costumes. My sisters used to give me their bras to use on stage. That is to show you that they have been so supportive of my career. They accepted me from the moment I chose to become a comedian.

Are you married?

Yes. I got married in 2006. I was 25 when I got married. My wife was quite young then.

Why did you marry that early?

It was the will of God. I hope you are not thinking I got her pregnant and decided to do the right thing by marrying her. No, it wasn’t like that. We got married in 2006 and we are just expecting our first baby now. Then again, before you ask, I am not an only son. We are seven boys in my family. It wasn’t as if my mother was looking for grandchildren either. It just happened at that time. I didn’t even understand what I was doing. It is so hard to tell the story. Maybe one day, I will sit down and think about how the whole thing happened. But I felt it was the right thing to do at that time and I did it and I don’t regret it.

Growing up in Warri, what was it like?

Growing up was very interesting. It is just like a Nigerian movie. In Warri, we grew up with plain hearts. I had fun growing up because of the kind of friends I had then. We weren’t rich and I had friends who were just like me. We were so happy with ourselves. We didn’t have any problem. It was not like now that a 13-year-old boy would think of owning a Hummer jeep or having a girlfriend. I am always grateful that I grew up in Warri. It taught most of us how to be funny.

So you did not join the militants.

I am not inclined to politics, but I have to tell you that militancy is a political group. People should stop taking it as if people from the Niger Delta believe in violence. That is a lie. It is just that we tell people what we have in our minds. We do not know how to bear grudges. That is one gift we have. The politicians are using the youths. Are you telling me that these youths travel to all parts of the world to buy ammunition? No, they don’t have the connection. We should check this militancy from the top. For any young boy to be a militant, know that somebody is motivating him.

How do you cope with women?

The first time my wife met me, her friends asked her what she was doing with a guy who was a ladies’ man. I may have done a lot of things when I was younger but now, I don’t get tempted. Ladies don’t tempt me because I have one of the most beautiful women for wife. I am focused on my wife and business. It is only when you give them a chance that women make you to lose focus.

What do you hope to achieve in future?

I am working with an events management company that also manages me. I am thinking of whatto give back to the society that has given me so much. I hope to rescue some people, especially the youths. I want to rescue people from poverty. I want to divert people’s minds to positive thinking so that they will shun violence. As for Ogus Baba, I hope to be a household name. I want people to remember that I passed through this surface.

Have you left Enugu finally?

I have an event that I do in Enugu every year. It is called ‘Laugh Goes On’. To show the residents that I am still one of them, I am still going to do the show in Enugu.