Godwin Abaraoha popularly known as Goodguy depicts the class act of a professional comedian. At every occasion, he makes sure he delights his audience with his top of the range jokes.
In this chat, the Abia State University graduate of English and Literature speaks about his career and how Nigerian comedy has grown exponentially. He equally tenders cogent reasons the government should develop the entertainment industry.
Why did you choose to do comedy?
I guess the question should be ‘Why not comedy?’ Comedy for me began way back as a kid who would gather other kids and entertain them with jokes, riddles, dramas and so on. This further graduated into something more profound, as I started hosting shows and winning awards for my secondary school back then. Then, of course, the university days came as an icing on the cake. So, being a comedian had always been there. It’s just innate. It was just seeking avenues and portals of expression.
Did you see comedy as a quick means of making money?
Anyone who thinks comedy is a quick way to make money had better have a rethink, because quite frankly, it is a venture enveloped in passion that grows with time. You have your moments, the highs and the lows and so on. So, these moments may not be fast yielding for one who considers it as a quick way out of being broke. It takes discipline, it takes consistency and it demands talent and a lot of creativity. If hosting big shows with a mammoth crowd in attendance like some of our predecessors and smiling to the bank afterwards is the goal, then such a person is really not ready; because I’m meant to understand by association and experience that there is a lot more to such successes than it beats the eyes. Sure, making money will definitely come especially if you are good and spontaneous, but then again, there’s more to comedy than just to make money. I would advise one with such a mentality to start up a business instead.
When did you start doing comedy professionally?
My comedy career had a major head start in my university days. This was after I hosted one of the biggest comedy shows in 2011, and I had a few of my friends from Lagos come support me. However, like we always see in the movies, the arena Gladiator was once an underworld fighter with enough street credibility. So, it is in that angle that I can say that I started as far back as 2005 hosting shows, anchoring weddings, even putting up my own show on a small scale. So, fast forward to 2019, I had hosted a massive show, Goodguy Licensed 3.0 (minority of one) at the prestigious Golden Tulip Hotel, now Festival Hotel in FESTAC Town, Lagos. But like I’d always say, it is not about how far rather, it is about how well. And for me, I would prefer the right speed in the right direction than being a speed demon on the wrong lane.
Who or what gives you inspiration?
As a Nigerian with hopes and dreams of cutting across to the international scene, I have been inspired by so many great people; including entertainers and non-entertainers alike. Ali Baba is regarded as the king of comedy in Nigeria, not just as a title, but also from a place of profundity. He has inspired a lot of talents like me and many other talents from different parts of the country with his platform and mentorship sessions. Also, Basket Mouth, AY, Buchi, Koffi, Ajebaba, Babahkay and many more inspire me. On the foreign scene, I’ve been inspired by Dave Chapelle, Kevin Hart, Katty Williams and Trevor Noah.
What makes you different or unique, because most comedians recycle their jokes?
A real comedian understands that making a joke is not a walk in the park. So, if I recycle my original materials at different levels, maybe tweaking it to fit the current situation, it is not out of place. What I do not support is plagiarism or ‘joke theft’. My uniqueness is tied around my quick switches in accents, and the fact that there’s a Goodguy effect in everything I do. This makes me special, and that which makes me special, I do not take for granted.
Are you where you want to be?
I’m grateful for where I am, I have got prospects too, I have got dreams, and I have got plans and hopes. A musician said in her lyrics, ‘all I need is time and moment that is mine…’ And so until then, I would keep taking it one day at a time, precept-by-precept and step-by-step. I am not afraid of going through the process, because even greatness comes at a price.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your career?
Like my friend would say, ‘the pandemic has helped me Pan – de – mic’; like fully utilize my talents and spread across, using the available avenues I have got to reach the world away from the regular physical shows and events. I agree that there would be a few trials and errors here and there, maybe because the world is adjusting to this new system. I remember how I almost flopped in my first zoom performance, but thank God I didn’t and the clients loved my act, and I have had countless successful zoom performances after then. But above all, it has been an adventure and an exciting one at that. Yes, the regular weekend events and weekday gigs may not be fully up and functional like it used to be, thereby affecting our cash flow; but trust me, we would come out stronger and better.
How have you stayed afloat?
Content is king and context the kingdom. Churning out contents on social media helped me in no small measure. In the heat of the lockdown, I started a trend called, Obiagu’s Proverbs (funny things our people say) where I put out weekly very funny proverbs our people say. This I do across all my social media handles and it has gained a wide acceptance even outside the country. Now, due to popular demand, we are working on making it a full web series on YouTube, Facebook and across all social media platforms. I am also working on the second edition of my end-of-the-year comedy special, ‘Goodguy: Weird, Wild, Wonder’. It’s a 90 minutes comedy special but this time with a little audience and in a studio.
What are your plans after the pandemic is over?
Life continues but then there is no guarantee that things will go back as it were. We would eventually have a new normal, as it has already begun here. So, all I would do is to fit my plans in line with these new structures. The 4th edition of my show, ‘Goodguy Licensed’ was supposed to hold this year but was postponed to 2021 for obvious reasons, and like I said, however things turn out, we are coming out stronger and better.
Do you see comedy as a means of employment?
It is an industry and industry is an employer of labour. We’ve got stand up comedy, situation comedy (sitcom) and with the new development some of my colleagues call social media skits on Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, YouTube and the likes. But whichever way this plays out, it boils down to the fact that human resource is utilized, from the content creators, to the developers, to the frontline talents, to the production hands, social media marketers and distributors and so on. So, you see, it’s a food chain under this umbrella called comedy. Even, if you feel you are not employing anyone, the man holding the phone or camera to record your performance will be sorted accordingly. Then, coming down to stand up comedy, it’s almost the same thing. For me, I have a team of resource persons who work for the brand in their respective capacities; and of course adequate remunerations are given. The comedy industry is a gold mine, I tell you. If more investors can take advantage of this and also the government can look into this budding industry, I’m sure we will all be singing a new song.
There’s this notion that ladies are really attracted to entertainers especially comedians, what is your view on this?
Every lady loves to laugh. As a matter of fact, having a sense of humour is one of the fundamental qualities a man should possess to woo a lady, and like one of my role models posted on social media some time ago, ‘you have no sense at all if you have got no sense of humour’.
For the aspiring individuals who want to be in this line of business, what would you tell them?
We all are aspiring. So, I would say it this way, let us keep doing our best. Content is king, context is the kingdom, and consistency hands you the keys to the kingdom.