Oluwaseyi Lawrence Aletile (Seyi Law) is 28. Stanley Chibunna Ezeimo (Funny Bone) is 26. Cyril Ehizele Ugege (Osama) is 33. Daniel Chibuzo Nwoka (Daniel D’Humorous) is 26. The quarter ranks among Nigeria’s fastest rising comedians right now. They opened up to YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s AZUH ARINZE years back on their pains and pleasures. And this was in London, where our paths had collided. Enjoy…
SEYI: Comedy, for me, is a way of life. It’s the ability to make people happy. It’s not just about cracking jokes, it also has a lot to do with your descriptive power, what you are saying, the way you look, the way you move. It’s fine in general.
DANIEL: Comedy, from my own perspective, first, denotes laughter, comedy denotes happiness and comedy is also an art of making people laugh and also the science of using daily and normal occurrences and making them funny or humorously acceptable to the society.
FUNNY BONE: Comedy, for me, is a deliberate act of provoking laughter. Your society and how much you use the things you see around you to connote or create a joke. So, it’s you and your environment as a comedian.
OSAMA: Comedy is life itself because you as a comedian, you stand as a picture of life before people. The reason being that every comedian is a social commentator. You use what is happening: that people don’t even see as important, you take it as a joke and bring it to the audience. So, for me, I think comedy is life generally.
What is the greatest thing that comedy has done for you?
SEYI: Comedy has brought fulfillment my way. It doesn’t have to be everything expensive, it doesn’t have to be money for me. Fulfillment in the sense that I’ve been able to do some things that I could not do some years back. Most especially, making my mother happy, which is something that has really, really made me happy. I’ve been able to get married just because I’m a comedian. This is something I never thought would have been possible at a time it happened. But then comedy has helped me to achieve it. Fulfillment! I’m happy doing what I’m doing and I enjoy it. That is one of the greatest things that comedy has done for me.
DANIEL: I can’t hold a particular thing and say this is the greatest thing that comedy has done for me. But first of all, I will say comedy has given me the chance to live my dreams. Comedy has given me the opportunity for my destiny to be fulfilled and through comedy, I am now relevant in the society. Not to mention how it has helped to build the youths and not to mention how it has made me to meet people and know people that I may not have known or may not have been associated with on a normal day.
FUNNY BONE: I think fulfillment is the word. As a young man, I think I’ve achieved so far. I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know I will get this far and above all, comedy has made me a voice. It’s like nobody becoming somebody and now when you talk, people listen. So, comedy has made my voice a voice that people will live to reckon with.
OSAMA: The greatest thing comedy has done for me is that it has reformed my life, because if not for comedy, people won’t even know that someone like me exists. Now, I can talk and people will listen to me. They don’t even need to see you, just your voice alone and a lot of people will stop what they are doing to listen to you. Then, comedy has really made me relevant in my family. A lot of my family members now depend on me and because of that God sees the load you are carrying and He comes and helps you to carry it.
What has comedy not done for you?
SEYI: Comedy has not changed who I am. When I say it has not changed who I am, I mean in terms of the goodness of my heart. I’m somebody who loves people and comedy has not changed that aspect of me. Because even as a comedian, you have to love people to be able to make them laugh. What you say to people comes from the heart and if there is no love in your heart, you might not talk right. And another thing is, comedy has not turned me into a bad person. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and even with the fame, I’ve not done those things yet. I’m just who I am. I want to be good, I want to make people happy.
DANIEL: I think I will borrow Seyi’s line and say that it has not changed the person that I am as well, because as I’m talking to you, I’m still trying to think what comedy has not done for me. I can’t say comedy has not done anything for me because all I’ve ever wanted in life as a man, I got them through comedy. So, one, you don’t have a case of un-fulfillment, then you don’t have cause to say comedy has not done this and this for me. Being a comedian has not changed my person or made me to now go into all of that at all.
FUNNY BONE: I think I want to tow the same lane. Comedy has not changed me as a person. I am still myself. It’s still me, myself and I. I’ve not changed. There are things I didn’t use to do before I became a comedian. I still don’t do them. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, so I don’t think…I don’t know, I don’t mess up.
OSAMA: Comedy has not changed me, comedy has not turned me to a nuisance, because at times, fame, when it gets to some people, they start doing what they are not used to. So, I’m still the same person. Comedy has still not changed me from who I am in the society. It has not changed me and I don’t think that it will change me from the kind of person I am.
What first got you interested in comedy?
SEYI: I used to tell people a story back then that in every family, maybe because there’s no money; money brings happiness to some extent. And in families where there is no money, God always raises somebody in the family who will always bring smiles to the face of people, even in difficult times. And I think I was that person in my family. Because of that, I was always interested in comedy. I will print out some jokes from the internet, I will bring them back home and I will read and tell them to my siblings and it made them laugh. That was where the interest started. And maybe because I did a lot of that too when I was in Junior Secondary School for my seniors, when they used to take me to their room to come and sing for them and make them laugh and do all sort of things through my gesticulation and all that. But then, it was something that was inside of me. So, it is something that I do naturally. The interest has always been there.
DANIEL: I think for me I was born an entertainer because right from when I could tell my left from my right, I had always known that I will never work in an office and I’ve always been involved in entertainment. Even right from my primary school, I used to MC our own birthday parties. So, I’ve always known I would do entertainment, but not comedy in particular. I started out dancing and from dancing I did small musical back up and all that. But what got me interested in comedy first of all, I liked comedy, I liked what I was seeing people do, watching Bill Cosby and the rest of them. I was just even doing it on the side, thinking that I will end up a musician or a dancer, but I found myself cracking more jokes than even dancing. I think my voice faded, so I said okay, true-true, dis music thing, e no go work. Make I just respect my destiny and then I saw myself cracking jokes and it just clicked like that. There was this mysterious way that everything happened. You know like they say, God moves in mysterious ways. The bits and pieces just keep coming together and joining together and it’s just leading to one smooth journey.
FUNNY BONE: I really cannot picture or tell you, this is what led me to comedy. I think mine is a case of somebody being where God and his destiny want him to be. It’s just a family of six and there’s one, this very person there who is not acting like every other person. This young man who they think he’s not like us and each time he talks or does his things, he sounds so unserious. And along the line, dance in church, drama group and somehow I gate crashed into the CDs of Julius Agwu. I started liking it, I started dancing and from there I delved into comedy. So, mine was not planned. It just came and I grabbed it.
OSAMA: I think it all started in church when we were in a group doing some comedy sketches and all that. I knew I was funny, but I never knew I was going to be a standup comedian. But with time, when I got into school, it all got defined and I had this passion when I watched our senior colleagues like Julius Agwu and Ali Baba, Basketmouth. Sometimes when I’m watching them, I see myself getting there someday. So, with that passion, it has always been driving me and today I thank God for where comedy has really placed me.
How do you come about the jokes you tell?
SEYI: Influence! Influence, in the sense that the things around you have a lot of influence on you. What you see people do, what you see people talk about have a lot of influence on you. My basic source of inspiration, like I always tell people, is God because God is the one who has placed you where you are, who has given you the brain to be able to think; you see something different from the way other people are seeing it, you have an enabling environment which God Himself has created, you watch movies and these are all those things that influence you as a person. And most especially that God has placed around you. Human beings have a lot to do with comedy and that is something I think God has blessed me with.
DANIEL: Like I said at the beginning when you asked about my definition of comedy, I said that for me, comedy is the art of making people laugh and the science of bringing out daily occurrences and making them humorously acceptable to the society. For me personally, inspiration basically comes from God. God gives you the ability to see certain things and interpret them in a very humorous manner. So, basically, I get my jokes from the things I see, the things that happen around me and then I just see it from another perspective; see it and bring it out in a very funny manner. But one unique thing about comedy is that you are not saying things that people do not know. What makes them laugh is when you say something about what they know and what they have been seeing every day, but have not seen that part of it, and then they go like, it’s true o! And that becomes the laugh factor in it. So, basically, for me, it’s the things I see, the things that happen around me and the inspiration to observe and interpret them in that manner.
FUNNY BONE: It’s me and my immediate society. I try as much as I can to observe the things happening around me. I read newspapers a lot. I am informed and I know about things around me. Secondly, I don’t joke with my quiet time. When I’m alone, I ask myself some questions and I try to imagine things that normally somebody who is normal will not imagine. So, I think my quiet time, for me, does 80% of my jokes, then 20% from the things I see around me.
OSAMA: I come about my jokes by viewing things from the opposite direction. Not the normal way people do things. Comedy is an art and when you fuse it with acting, it comes out in a different way. And two, you have to be inspired by the things that you see and I also try to carve a joke out of a story because there are some stories that when you listen to them, they hit people. So, it’s from people around me, things happening around me every day.
Which of your jokes do you think is the funniest?
SEYI: Whaaooh! That’s a big question. I can’t really place it. Different jokes work for different audience, because there are some jokes you crack with a Yoruba man and he laughs differently and there are some jokes you crack with an Igbo man and he laughs differently. I think it depends on the class of the audience that you are performing for. So, I can’t really say that this is the funniest. But I think one joke that brought me to limelight was the remix of the joke I did on a stammerer trying to pronounce crocodile.
DANIEL: I can’t hold a particular joke and say this is the funniest ever. I started thinking as soon as you mentioned it. Because first of all, some jokes are seasonal, because they have to do with a particular event and time. Like the election has come and gone, if you do jokes about the election now, it may not give you the desired effect as much as it would at that time. Jokes also go with time and there are different jokes that appeal to different people. So, you might go somewhere and somebody might say make sure you crack this one; this one is always killing me and you will be surprised to go to another place and somebody will say my friend, look, I don’t want to hear that one. So, as a comedian, I will say that as I continue to get better in my art, so does my material or joke also get better with time. So, you can be sure that by the time you are interviewing me next year, I will tell you that there’s this other one that is the best.
FUNNY BONE: I think it’s a case of what appeals to you might not be the same that will appeal to me. So, I think you might like joke A and the other person might like joke B. So, me, I will say for now my best joke is yet to come, because every passing day, it gets new.
OSAMA: This is quite difficult because there are a lot of jokes that I can’t really pick one or any really, because at times it all depends on the kind of situation or event. Sometimes you have some jokes you think are funny, but there are some you don’t even remember. So, I don’t have any. There are a lot of funny jokes that I’ve cracked and that I can’t remember. But we just pray to get better every day.
Can you tell us the most important things about your person?
SEYI: I think friendship is something that helps you to know people; your ability to interact with people, and I think that is something that I really have. I always like to associate with people. I always like to learn from them, I don’t love judging people from afar. I was born in a place called Port-Nomba in Gabon. I left there at a very tender age to go to school. I attended Esther Kawe Memorial Nursery and Primary School, Okitipupa in Ondo State. I was there in the boarding house for my primary education. Later, I went to Ekiti State Government College, formerly Unity Secondary School, Ikere-Ekiti. That was for my junior secondary school. Later, it was Methodist Boys High School in Lagos for my senior secondary school. After my senior secondary school, there was a break because I had to struggle financially, but I thank God that now Seyi Law is already an OND holder from Lagos State Polytechnic. I studied Computer Science and we are still furthering. My wife is the prettiest woman you can think of. Why I said that is because she’s woman of good character. Her name is Ebere Stacy Aletile, no more Cham.
DANIEL: I’m the first in a family of six. From Rivers State, Ikwerre LGA, Elele town to be precise. I attended Aladumo Educational Centre for my primary school. I attended Lao-Russel Memorial Secondary School and then OMPADEC Science Centre. I did a little stint with sciences. I was studying Physics, but due to the pursuit of my destiny, I knew this was not where I belong, but you know parental pressure and all that. I had to quit studying Physics at 300 level and started all over again with the arts and now I’m done. At first, it was Rivers State University of Science and Technology. But I went back to the University of Port-Harcourt to finish in Linguistics and Communications and all of that. I’m very God-fearing yet very playful; very jovial yet very serious when the need arises. I’m somebody that I don’t get angry a lot. Most often I don’t take things to heart. I’m engaged and soon to be married. Her name is Uchenna Ironkwe. She’s a final year student, University of Port-Harcourt, studying Economics. Her parents are lecturers in the same university. Her mother is a professor in the Faculty of Agric. Her father is a doctor in the Faculty of Management. He teaches Accounting. We met in a wedding I went to anchor and you know how it is, you see a fine girl, ah, how are you? You try to chat her up, collect BB pin and then you are chatting and chatting, and as they say, one thing led to another, you became quite close and began to see the values you had always been looking out for in the woman that you want to call your wife and by God’s guidance and counseling from church and our families being involved, we hope to make a very good home. Our wedding will take place in very early part of next year.
FUNNY BONE: I am a young man, Igbo boy, born and bred in the North. I grew up in Kaduna. I attended St. Joseph’s Nursery and Primary School. From there, I went to Joy Schools where I was expelled for noise making. Simply noise making! I didn’t fight anybody. They just got tired because I was just too noisy. So, from there, I went to Bec College. That was where I met people like me. People who were socially gifted like me and we had to do the art of miming, acting, dancing, inter-school drama and everything. From there, I proceeded to the University of Jos. I did a diploma in Theatre Arts. I went further and I acquired a degree from the same course. I’m serving now in Ondo State, Akure. I am just one easy going person. I respect people a lot. I really don’t like it when I’m being disrespected because I respect people a lot. I am fun-loving. I can be noisy and I know where to be noisy and I know when not to be. I am God-fearing, I am just myself. I’m just there.
OSAMA: I am a young fast growing man. I am from Edo State. I was born in Ibadan. From there, we moved to Niger State where I grew up wholly, Kainji, New Bussa, Niger State. And that was where I did my primary school, NIFFRI Staff School. From there, I proceeded to Edo State because my dad said he needed me to understand our language. I went to ACC, Irrua, in Edo State. I proceeded to Ilorin, Kwara State from there, Mount Camel College, where I rounded off my secondary education. The bad boys in Irrua made me leave. From there, I stayed at home for two years, before I now proceeded to Federal Polytechnic, Bida. I did my remedial studies there in Business Studies, then moved to Jos where I actually went into my real dreams. I studied Theatre Arts in University of Jos. I’m from a family of six, I’m the first. My dad is still alive, my mum is late. I’m from Edo State, Uromi to be precise. Uromi is in Esan North East LGA. I’m someone who talks a lot. I like talking and driving. I don’t make trouble and I actually tell people this because of my name – Osama. It’s a stage name; people think negatively about me, but I tell people you don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s just a name. And I actually got that name from school. The first time in school, we were entering the class, that was 2011 when Osama struck in America. So, we were late and we were begging the lecturer to allow us in. Finally, he did, but as we were entering, you know students, as I was entering, he said you with beards, if I see people like you, you remind me of Osama. So, that was how it stuck. And you know students, when they notice that they call you any name and you react, they will continue. I fought to some extent to stop the name, but when I noticed that it was not helping matter, I had to leave it, not knowing that that name was going to bring fortune (Laughs). Because right now in my country, I can stand and boast about this. But my full stage name is Osama Akpunonu. Akpunonu means what people talk about, something you have in your mouth, something you can’t do without talking about and once people talk about you, you are made. That is all about me.