Anthony Mofe Ereku. Does the name ring any bell? How about Gandoki? The latter certainly does. Moreso, now that he has put Nigeria on the Guinness Book of World Records as the comedian with the longest performing time on any stage. AZUH ARINZE chatted the record breaker up and the result is what we have here. Enjoy…
Yeah, it makes me feel very, very happy. I’m very, very happy, but it was due to my hard work. I’ve been working hard and other people are using my jokes. I feel so great winning that award.
Even your colleagues admit that you have a robust repertoire of jokes. How do you source your jokes?
I get my jokes from the environment I live in. I study the people around me. That’s how I get my jokes. I don’t stand and tell my jokes; I use body movements to make them better.
How and when did you exactly get into comedy?
I started comedy in 1988 when I was in secondary school (Nana College, Warri, Delta State). Then, I was a member of the Dramatic Society with members of this group – DC Envoys. We grew up together. We were in the same secondary school and dramatic club. And then I used to perform.
What makes Gandoki different from the other comedians?
I can tell you that it’s because I tell reality jokes. Other comedians read books, I don’t. My video CD will soon be out and also my audio, Best of Gandoki Series. It’s also coming out soon.
Who are the comedians you admire their creativity, their ingenuity, etc?
In Nigeria, I really admire Ali Baba and Julius Agwu. I see Julius as a very creative man too. He’s very creative.
If you were not doing comedy, what else would you have been doing?
Ah! (laughs) You know I’m from Warri? Maybe by now I would have joined the fight there. Because I’m a rugged man anytime, any day.
Which of your performances would you say gave you the break?
Nite of A Thousand Laughs. My first Nite of A Thousand Laughs, and that was 1998. Yeah! I need to speak my mind – because we the Waffi, we speak our minds. Because if you don’t speak your mind you are not a full man. When I came into Lagos, one regret I have so far about the comedy business is showing them that I am good. I’m serious. Because immediately I did, it became difficult for them to support me. Because they knew that once I break into limelight, it will be very, very difficult for some comedians. I’m not boasting. I’m only saying my mind. They do the emceeing while we do the comedy.
Where do you expect to be in the next five years?
In the next five years, I would have been established in a very big way. I would have moved up and created more awareness for myself. I pray to be on top in the next five years. But you know that to be on top is not easy. It’s not easy at all. But to tell you the truth, the only man Ali Baba has enormous respect for is me and that is why he quickly crowned me the Prince of Comedy (laughs). But I am trying to be like him and change the face of comedy. I want to repackage the comedy business. That’s my plan in the next five years.
You were born in Warri, you also grew up in Warri. What was it like growing up in Warri?
Warri is a very quiet place, very peaceful place. We have three ethnic groups in Warri. We have the Urhobos, Itsekiris and the Ijaws and we are all brothers. We were living like brothers in those days; that was the old Warri. Not the modern Warri. Our grandparents, our fathers, our mothers gave us fake news. That this man is not your brother, this man is not your brother and that is what has been causing the fight in Warri so far. We were living as one before. But people in Lagos believe that if you go to Warri, you will see ruffians everywhere. No, we are not rough. But we are bold. We don’t fear anybody. We speak our minds. If you want to kill me, kill me. That is Warri for you.
Tell us your educational qualifications, which schools did you attend?
I went to Ekengbua Primary School. After my primary education, I went to Nana College (both in Warri). I later sat for JAMB, passed and was offered admission to study in UNIBEN. But while in UNIBEN, everybody knew me. I had a lot of friends – both good and bad. I later had a very big problem there. I lost my roommate and I was an accused. That was 1997. He was involved in a bloody fight; this cultism thing. But I’m not a ‘cult man’. I formed a club when I was in UNIBEN called PESAC – Performing Students Artistes Club. The club later broke up. And I formed another club, it is still on at the University of Benin.
I love the business.
What don’t you like about being a comedian?
Yes, that’s a very good question. Being a comedian, people will not take you seriously. People will never take you seriously. A while back one guy embarrassed me. I was in a bank and the guy just came closer, tapped my head and said honey, look at this fool. He was telling his wife or girlfriend. Don’t you know Gandoki? This mad man! And people started laughing. That was a very big embarrassment.
What else would you love to do?
As a man, there are so many things to do. I could have also become a footballer because I do play ball a lot. I have never liked salaried jobs.
What’s your dream as a comedian?
My dream is to have a good life. Generally, to have a good life. Belong in the business.
When are you looking at getting married?
Yes, I will soon marry.
Who is the lucky girl, tell us about her?
There’s no need to disclose her identity yet (laughing). But she’s not in the entertainment industry.