Bovi, a comedian believes practitioners need confidence to be successful in this interview with Grace Adewara
What’s your background like?
I was born in the 70s to academic parents; a father who was a lecturer and a librarian mother. I grew up wanting to be on the screen. This interest eventually influenced my career path as I studied Theatre Arts at the Delta State University. I started my career with veteran actor, Richard Mofe -Damijo, before trying my hands on comedy in 2005. My office was co-organising an art exhibition for my friend at Golden Gate Restaurant. Though there was an emcee, the guests needed to be entertained later on. So, I took the microphone from the MC and that was it. What saved me was that the jokes were funny, but I was not a comedian. Ali Baba was among the audience and he encouraged me to keep it up. Not fully persuaded that I could be a comedian, I ignored the encouragement until 2007 when I featured in the TV drama, Extended Family.
What inspired you to become a comedian?
Nothing really; I know I am talented. I have always wanted to be a comedian right from my primary school days. I always made people laugh whenever they were with me. Today, I am not just a comedian, but a professional comedian, professional actor and an entertainer. I have been a comedian for quite some years now, but I became a professional comedian in 2008.
How can you describe the life of comedians?
Actually, I cannot say for others but for myself. I live a good life, a comfortable life without stress. I wake up in the morning; pray to God. I receive calls from people, not ordinary people but excited people. Sometimes I will be very tired and weak, but I always create time to read because I love reading a lot. Whenever I’m less busy, I’m always with my family.
What are the challenges you face as a comedian?
Everybody has his own challenges. For me, I accept any challenges that come my way. I see all challenges as stepping stones and not a stumbling block.
Why do Nigerian comedians like cracking jokes in Pidgin English?
We like cracking jokes in Pidgin because English is not our first language. Our local dialect is our first language and the closest language to our local dialect is Pidgin. We have so many idiomatic expressions that we use in Pidgin that we may not be able to express in English language. Most people understand Pidgin but it‘s not everybody that understands good English. English jokes are for English people; that is why their jokes can work for them. I can crack jokes with good English and people will laugh but Nigerians enjoy Pidgin English a lot. Moreover, Pidgin English makes your jokes flow well. Speaking Pidgin English is like you are down to earth, you can colour your picture for people to understand you. I have also featured in so many event that I use pure English.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
My embarrassing moment was when I first started; there were occasions that I went off on stage; I forgot everything I had practiced, it has happened to me once or on two occasions. I was really embarrassed but I did not lose hope. I still put myself together and continued my jokes. Sometimes you crack a joke and people would not laugh. I was saying to myself that is it that the joke is not funny or I did not say it in a funny way. It has to do with confidence. If you are not confident enough, and your joke is funny, the audience will just laugh at you and not the jokes. It has happened to me on several occasions but now, I’m a professional comedian. Once I enter the stage, people will start laughing. I cannot go on stage to crack a joke and people will not laugh. It is not possible. I have a lot of fans, so I need to prepare well so that my standard will not drop.
People say there is a lot of money in comedy. Is that true?
Everything is a process; I will tell you that there is real money in this profession. If you are not making money in what you are doing, in a matter of time, you will make the money. I have been long in this game so I can confidently say that yes, it pays me.
How do you see comedy in the next four years?
I can’t really say, but I can assure you that in the next four, five years I will be better than the way I am. I entertain people but I know that in the next four years, I will entertain more people.