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Friday, 30 October 2015

My expensive joke on President Muhammadu Buhari –Gordons, comedian

He was a member of DC Envoys, a musical group that made waves a few years ago. He crossed to comedy and became a household name. Today, Godwin Komone aka Gordons is one of Nigeria’s most popular comedians.
However, at an event during the last presidential elections, the self-styled Comedy Berlusconi took the then presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo to the cleaners. But now that things have turned around for the duo, the comedian seems apologetic. In this exclusive interview, Gordons sheds more light on why he did the joke. Excerpts:

Tell us about yourself?
I am the first born of many children. My mom and dad separated before I was three months old. My mom is married to someone else, so I am the only person they had together, every other person is just half brother or sister. My mom is from Aladja while my dad is from Oforegbala, two different local governments, but we are all Urhobos.

How was your growing up?
I grew up with my grand mother because my mom and dad separated. I didn’t see my mom till when I was like 15-years-old. That was when I got to know my mother. Growing up was rough because, as the only child, my mom left me for my grandmother to take care of. I grew up learning everything by myself, there was nobody to teach me that this is the way of life or this is the way that a child should go. I learnt everything all by myself, and through God.

How did comedy start for you?
You must understand that there are two types of comedians. There are those who learnt the art of comedy and those that have the natural gift of comedy. By the grace of God, I have the gift of comedy. I have been doing comedy even when it wasn’t a profession, because it was something inside of me. I started entertaining my parents and guests at a very tender age, and even while at Nana College. I was in Literary, Debating & Dramatic Society. I was already doing comedy everywhere including Delta State University where I read Integrated Science.

Is comedy lucrative?
I didn’t know comedy was lucrative. I thought it was meant for entertainment and nothing to write home about until I came to Lagos in 2005. When I discovered that it was lucrative, it was then I took it up as a profession and career. I have not started yet I’m still up and coming. I have not gotten to where I wanted to be yet, because I am still trying to position myself for the next level.

Did you acquire any training as a comedian?
Not really, I didn’t train under anybody. I started doing comedy as an up and coming comedian. I was under Basket Mouth, I was his boy so to speak, I was learning from him. He gave me an opportunity to learn from him before I started doing stuff on my own.

You did music with DC Envoys?
It will interest you to know that I started off as a musician. I did music for a long time with DC Envoys, but the kind of music I was doing with them was music-comedy, that was comedy mixed with music. In 2005, I decided to separate comedy from music, which is what I am doing now. From then till now, comedy has taken the better part of me. That doesn’t mean that I have left music finally, I still hope to do music this year or early next year.

Why did you leave DC Envoys?
I didn’t leave DC Envoys because they were not progressing. I left DC Envoys because I felt it was time for a new dimension. DC Envoys was already having issues internally, and while trying to handle it, I discovered that this other door was still open. So, I decided to merge the two, but I discovered that comedy took the better part of me. That was how I left music finally.

What are the challenges you face?
For comedy, it’s very challenging. One, there is joke piracy and secondly, the industry is not organised. I mean we don’t have a governing body yet like we have the PMAN for musicians. We don’t have any association for comedians. Everybody comes into the game and tries to do one or two things. Of course, you will try to write a joke and someone else will pick it up and tell it somewhere else without giving you credit for it. All these things are challenging. People are getting money now in the industry, they just might be people who took other people’s jokes and make a life out of them. But sometimes life is not fair, through it all, it’s been beautiful. We’ve been trying to do our best to stay afloat.

Do you still do shows?
It takes a lot financially to do shows. I have done a lot of shows myself, and at the end of the day, I don’t go home with anything. The government should build theatres and also fund projects comedians are embarking on. But if I could get encouragement from government financially to do something worthwhile, it’s okay. We also need comedy academics where people can go and learn the art of comedy.

Aside comedy, what else do you do?
I do a little bit of fashion. I used to own a car company but I closed it because of mismanagement. I closed it because I didn’t want any form of distraction. However, I am opening a boutique any moment from now.

How has married life been?
Marriage has taught me perseverance. It has taught me how to be responsible and careful, and also how to accommodate somebody else’s weakness. I didn’t get married when I was Gordons. I got married when I was Godwin. My wife and I met each other when I was nobody, and the love we shared is still sustaining us. A lot of celebrities got married when they became big. But my wife married me when she didn’t hope that I was going to be anything, so it was genuine love for one another. Now that God has taken us thus far, nothing can separate that love from my heart. We still love and care for each other.

Why are entertainers’ marriages crashing?
Reason why entertainers’ marriages are crashing is that, some women are married to fame, and some are married to money. Some are just married to you because you are Mr. so, so and so. When you are not who they think you are anymore, they start to wither. Apart from that, being a celebrity is very challenging. You are exposed to all kinds of temptations. Your ability to handle them makes you a more matured person. So, if you are married to someone who is unable to handle it, then it could bring a lot of problems.

How do you handle female fans?
I let them know that I’m married and I love my wife. I wouldn’t like to do to my wife what I won’t want her to do to me. I try as much as possible to keep it clean; I have a lot of female admirers. I try to keep clean in such a way that it will not hurt the woman who got married to me when I was nobody. I handle them in the possible way that I can because they are still my fans and I don’t want to lose them. I try as much as possible to keep a straight line, I let them know that this area you can’t go, but we can be friends.

You did a joke on President Muhammadu Buhari that some people considered unpalatable?
I am a comedian; I’m not a politician. It’s my duty to create laughter and put it in the heart of people. I was just doing my job, I wasn’t trying to mock him or let him see that he is not fit for the job. I was only doing my job. Although, a lot of people did not find it funny, I wasn’t really beefing or saying anything nasty about him. I was just doing my job. I have cracked jokes about everybody including former President Jonathan himself. I have cracked more jokes about former President Olusegun Obasanjo than any other comedian in the industry. I have cracked jokes about every person that I know, both in and outside Nigeria. I have done what I know how to do and I don’t owe anybody apology, because I am just like a surgeon. I must do my job. It doesn’t matter if I cause you pain or not. I do my job and I do it the best possible way I can. I am not trying to mock anybody, I was just trying to put my things together, that’s just the way it is.

Would you be able to perform for President Buhari?
It will interest you to know that when it was time for swearing-in ceremony, I was the comedian they invited to Katsina State, because some people still understand that these things are just jokes. Some people still understand that this is a comedian and he gets to do his job. If I was a gynecologist, I will operate on any person, whether she is married or not, and she gets to be naked before me, that’s the job. On May 29, the day of swearing-in, I was the one that went to Katsina. If what I said about Buhari was something that was very bitter to a lot of people, I shouldn’t have gone there in the first place. This is Nigeria; we should understand that we are only trying to grow. Some people called me and said, ‘hey that joke was expensive’ and I said ‘okay, I apologise’. But I don’t think President Buhari is that person who is bothered about what anybody says; he is much concerned about how he can move the country forward. I have been performing since then; I have been doing events for both APC and PDP people.

What’s the problem between you and Helen Paul?
I am very shocked that the media is taking this whole thing to another level. That wasn’t what it was meant to be. We were just doing our thing. Helen and I can never have an issue because she is like a daughter to me, you know. I expected that stuff to end there but I can’t really define correctly why it went the way it went, because we’re not quarreling and we’re not trying to be abusive. This is called ‘yabbing’. ‘Yabbing’ in comedy is allowed. If she comes up and says nasty things about me, and I say nasty things about her, it ends there. I have done this same thing with a lot of comedians. Some comedians will just hit you on stage. I was once in Eko Hotel where Princess hit me. I was the one on stage, she wasn’t. She hit me and I had to respond. In comedy, it is called spontaneity. I have to be spontaneous and I hit her back. I have done that with Bovi, Basket Mouth, Ali Baba, and I Go Die. I have done that with almost everybody, it’s just the way we do things as comedians.
But I was very shocked the way the media took it, because if they didn’t, nobody will even know that such things went on. For me, they are just making the girl feel bad, it’s not a quarrel; we never had a quarrel. Why should I be fighting with Helen Paul, anyway? We still have a long way to go, I have anchored a lot of events with her and I still have more to do with her in the future. For instance, next month I’m anchoring an event with her in London and I’m also doing another one with her in Abuja. So, where does the rift come from?

What are your principles in life?
I am a realist and down-to-earth person. I don’t like beating around the bush; I like truth. I try as much as possible to be humble, respect and fear God, and of course, I don’t play with my job. I love my family.

What project are you working on now?
It’s Comedy Klinic Ward, which is meant to provide entertainment on the go and provide succour for people. We live in a society where things are biting hard. People should be able to forget the problems they are going through, and their blood pressure will come down. I try as much as possible to make Comedy Klinic Ward both laughter and education. A lot of people get wisdom and education through it, while others get entertained too.

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