By Tony Ogaga
Happily married comedian, OAP and actor, Ushbebe (Justice Nuagbe), has come a long way. After cutting his teeth working with award winning comedian, AY, as his protege, he has successfully carved a niche for himself as one of Nigeria’s hottest contemporary rib crackers and has gone on to establish his own annual comedy show, Chronicles of Ushbebe, which is fast becoming a household name.
TS Weekend caught up with Ushbebe recently at oriental Hotel, Lagos, and the rib cracker went down memory lane recalling how AY influenced him.
He said: “AY is my everything, he was my idol when I was in the university. I worked with him in school. When I was in my 100 Level he was in 300 level. I was selling tickets on campus for his shows and all of that.
“AY is the most hardworking entertainer in Nigeria as far as I am concerned. That is what I know because I have lived with him and worked with him and one interesting thing is that he used to put me under so much pressure and I was complaining but now that I have people working for me, I am putting them under the same pressure in order to bring out the best in them.
“The basic lesson I learnt from him is to always stay hard working and always strive to be the best; there should never be a time when I feel I have made it and stop working. Hard work has been central to my success,” the rib cracker added.
For Ushbebe, comedy started in secondary school. Recalling his early years he continued: “Then I was into drama and a little bit of comedy. When I got to the university I started going for departmental shows and stuffs like that and I was cracking people up. I think that was where I got my grooming. I started doing comedy professionally when I started working with AY
“I learnt a lot of lessons from him. At a point I became the head of management for his team so I learnt everything I needed to learn under AY. Consequently, it wasn’t hard for me to grow my own brand because I was under the tutelage of the master.”
Today, Ushbebe has successfully blended comedy with acting starring in a couple of movies including Super Star which won him rave reviews. How did he pull it off? “I am a theatre artist and that involves comedy, acting and every other thing that comes with the arts. But I will say, the secret is that it is the amount of work that you give to your business that will grow you.”
A.Y has branched into movie successfully, is he thinking of doing that? “Well, I am surprised when people say such. I mean A.Y studied Theatre Arts and acting should not be a big issue for him. A lot of people are saying that he used comedy as a means to delve into Nollyhood but most of them are probably ignorant because they were not even there when AY acted his first film ever in Nollywood in which he acted as an armed robber and rapper. The base line is that as a theatre artiste graduate, acting is something that should be expected from you and producing movies should be down your alley; we are trained for all of these and more.”
What is the craziest thing a female fan ever did to him? He breaks into laughter as he responds. “That was the day a female fan kissed me on the Red Carpet and I felt like wow! I for kiss am back but people dey there,” he adds in pidgin as we share another hearty laugh.
Having seen it all and done it all, Ushbebe has an advice for up and coming comedians. Hear him: “Just work hard and have a desire for growth. A lot of people don’t want to grow, they just want to glow; they just want to shine at once. They don’t want to go by the steps and pay their dues. I worked with AY for four years so it is like I learnt the ropes all over again after going to school. I was like an mechanic learning all over again from the master. So, if you want to make it in comedy, you must be humble.”