By Nweke Maureen
Comedian, Elder O personifies laughter. With very little effort, he sends audiences cracking up. However, in December of 2014, death dealt him a blow when his wife died due to child birth complications. And for a while, laughter ‘departed’ from his world but today, with the help of his mother in-law and family, he has bounced back. In this chat with TSWeekend, the rib cracker opens up on how he found comedy and the challenges of raising his son.
How did you come about the name Elder O?
I started with stage acting. Back then I normally went for events for the elderly so when I eventually started comedy, I was like ‘let me look for a name that will last because most entertainers have names that sooner or later lose relevance.’ For example, Wizkid started as a teenager but now he is an adult but he can’t change his name to Wizman (laughter). The same goes for Pencil. A Comedian, he took up the name when he was very slim but now he is fat and changing the name now will be a problem because it could disconnect him from his fans (Laughter). Even Nigga Raw now wants to be addressed as Mr. Raw. So you can see the wisdom in my choosing Elder O; an elder will always be an elder (more laughter).
How did you come into comedy?
Entertainment has always been part of me. I was in the drama group in church and I also belonged to another theatre group where I was leader but then, I just did comedy for fun. I watched comedians on TV and picked up one or two things which I used to crack jokes later. To my amazement, people were laughing and enjoying the jokes. However, it was just a hubby until the day a friend was having his wedding and the MC failed to turn up. People were murmuring so I requested they give me the microphone and I used the opportunity very well and before I knew it, people were coming out to collect my card and phone number. I was even telling them that ‘please, it’s not my job-o’ but they insisted. There was this man who was all over me. He was like ‘please, you must come to my sister’s wedding in two weeks time.’ I anchored the event and it was a resounding success and ever since I have never looked back.
Has it always been your dream to be a comedian or did you take after someone in your family?
My parents are very funny so I grew up in a family where everything was funny. Maybe, it was because my father is funny so he married my mother and before they knew it she blended with him. My father has a way of making very difficult situations look easy. When I became a comedian people were not surprised.
You lost your wife last year? Are you still missing her?
It was a very terrible experience, it was beyond me and I still miss her to this day. I almost gave up the ghost. At a point I couldn’t walk and my blood pressure shot through the roof. Before she died I promised her that I will buy her a new car and I will use the car to come carry her and our baby home from the hospital but it never happened. I really miss her a lot and I don’t know if I can ever find another woman like her.
It’s been quite a while now. Have you found a new love?
Naturally, you have to wait for a while to recover from the shock and trauma. Sometimes, when I see a pregnant woman, I still feel this shock and trauma. And girls can be funny. Although, some of them tried rendering some help here and there but some saw it as another job opportunity. One even offered to come and help me with my little kid but I told her I had no need for her services even though she insisted that I should not pay her.
How have you been coping playing the role of mother and father at the same time considering your carrier?
With the help of God and my mother in law; God bless her soul, she has been so supportive. My mother came around recently so I have two old hands. My son means the whole world to me. He is my only source of consolation; he is the only reason I am still breathing. If not for the love of God and some other people around me, I would have died. Some people were like will this one survive?’
Have you ever taught of quitting comedy?
(Laughter) That was like six or seven years ago after I contested A.Y’s Open Mic comedy talent show. Back then there was a man that really hurt me. He promised me that I would perform at one of his shows. To make sure there were no excuses I went to his office to seal the deal even though he was not paying me. All I wanted was to be heard. He told me not to worry that I would definitely perform. I was so excited I went to chatter danfo to convey all my friends and family to come watch me perform. I even helped them arrange chairs at the venue before the show started but the man disappointed me and I became a laughing stock before my neighbours and family members (laughter). It was very embarrassing but as God will have it, that same man has called upon me to perform at three or four of his shows.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
You know, once you are out there in the public glare, you can no longer live your normal life so you have to comport yourself where ever you go especially when there is trouble. Five years ago before I bought my first car, I was in a bus going to Alaba International. I had been pleading with the conductor to give me my balance but he just shouted saying ‘Shebi, I tell all of una make una enter with una change but una no hear.’ Nobody said anything so when it was time to disembark he refused to give me my balance and the driver wanted to zoom off so I dragged down the conductor. Immediately, a guy in the bus shouted ‘Elder O, na waoooo. A whole comedian from O’jez like you nor fit leave change for conductor? Oh boy, tell us jokes na.’ I was so embarrassed I just left the conductor and my change in shame (laughter).
Have your jokes ever landed you in trouble before?
(laughter) There was this day I yabbed a customer at O’jez. He got so angry he said that this is the first time a comedian will be saying nonsense about him or yabbing him yet he was laughing so he gave me his card and asked me to call him and even gave me money. That was the closest I got to being in trouble. Sometimes, guys pay me money to yab their girlfriends. The truth is that many of them enjoy the yabis.
What are your dreams?
My dream is to make Elder O a household name and a very big brand. Already I have branched into movies. I have shot three or four movies.