Mr. Godwin Komone, aka Gordons, is not only a colourful comedian, he is also a colourful character. One of the most gifted and best dressed in his sector, he had a terrible and horrible childhood, which he did not allow to deter or scuttle his vision and mission, despite sliding into depression at some point. Rejected by his parents – yes, his mother and father – and abandoned to die, his ‘Chi’ did not eventually allow them to have their way. Now a classic example of a rejected-stone-turned-cornerstone, he shared his pathetic story with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, on Friday, April 23, 2021.
He also talked about how he was at another time poisoned as well as the greatest lesson taught him by one of Africa’s richest men and Glo founder, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jnr. Excerpts…
While doing my research, and trying to read up on you, I stumbled on the fact that you had an unpleasant childhood. Specifically, that your parents abandoned you to die! Could you tell us how you were able to overcome eventually?
I happen to be one of those that were born not to make it, but by the grace of God, I did. I was born into this earth with seven teeth, so they conspired to kill me! My mom was among the conspirators. Fortunately for me, and to cut a long story short, there was a man in my village who said they shouldn’t kill me, that people like this always become kings in Benin. So, that brought a lot of hatred to me; it brought a lot of hatred from my parents.
They thought I was a child who didn’t bring anything good, so at the age of three months, I almost became lame for lack of nutrition and care. They just left me like that. It took my paternal grandmother who heard from my father’s village to come and carry me from my mother’s village. She pretended like she came to the market, the way they used to do it in the olden days. She said that she would like to see her grandson, and there I was, very small, I didn’t know what was going on. She just backed me and said she wanted to take me to the market and disappeared with me to my father’s village. She started treating me with herbs, on my leg and things like that and by the grace of God, I could stand and I started walking. And then because of how I grew up, I was circumcised at the age of nine, live! There was no anaesthesia or any of that. I felt the pain of the knife. And then to make things worse, I saw my mother finally at the age of 16 after she left me; my father also left me. I saw my father and mother at the age of 16. The worst part was that even when she saw me, she didn’t want to receive me. So, I was thrown into depression. I grew up with a lot of inferiority complex. But the good thing is that I came to know God early, since I couldn’t find love among my parents, among people of the world. So, I came to know God early, and that was the only love I could find. So, I was very dedicated, I followed God with all my heart, even up till today, because that was the only love I knew. I had no uncles, no aunts, no mother, nobody was there. The only person that stood for me was my paternal grandmother. She didn’t have much children, she only had my father and now that she had a grandson, she had to take me like her son. She trained me before she passed on, on the 10th of May, 1981. Bob Marley died the next day, so I never forget such things. It was hell!
What is your relationship with your parents now that the Lord has blessed you?
I have come to realize that the things I suffered as a child, they were intentional; God was using them to prepare me for what was to come. Sometimes, if God is ever going to put you on a throne, He trains you first and sometimes the place of training is not usually funny. So, I realized as I grew up that what I suffered was not because I was hated by Him. God allowed it to happen because He was training me on that which was to come. My relationship with my parents has become good; I just lost my father two months ago, but my mother is still alive. I have a very good relationship with her, I do not hold anything against them.
Wow! You started out as a musician, why did you dump music for comedy?
I didn’t dump music because there’s no human being on earth that is talented in one thing. For every human being, we have more than three gifts operating in our lives; the one you give attention to will take the better part of you. Even as I started out as a musician with a group called (DC Envoys), I was still doing comedy. It was more like music-comedy . But there came a time I had to separate the wheat from the tares, and the Bible says, “If your eyes be single, your whole body will be full of light.” So, I wanted to know what was my calling. At this time, the group was already packing up, everybody was already starting to do something else, so I said okay, I think it’s about time, that I knew what to do. Incidentally, I had gone to do music in Opa Williams’ event with my group and usually, before I start singing, I’d do comedy first. So, he said to me, why don’t you do comedy first. So, the other two guys stepped aside and they gave me five minutes; five minutes turned to ten minutes, ten minutes turned to fifteen minutes, fifteen turned to twenty. I finally left that stage at thirty minutes; stage rocking and the people asking for more. So, that was how my comedy career started. Even when we sang that night, it was like okay, you guys did well, but I think Gordons is better as a comedian. So, I started paying attention to comedy more than music and initially when I came to Lagos in 2006, I came with music in mind and I have an album to that effect. After that, comedy started taking the better part of me and then Night of a Thousand Laughs started giving me the push and I started extending my creativity towards that area and today, here we are.
Now, between comedy and music, which one do you prefer?
Well, I love both. Trust me. Yes, I give my attention to comedy for now, but I love music a lot. I’m working on an album currently. I just love music and I love comedy. But the truth of the matter is, the comedy market, for me, is bigger than the music market. But hey, I really can’t say I love one more than the other.
To have a taste of success as a comedian, what must one do?
No. 1, as a comedian, there are two types of comics – the one that learnt the art and the one that is gifted naturally. So, if you are gifted naturally, comedy to you is easy; even if you wake up in the morning, you’re on. But those who learnt the art, they might have to go through stuff to get there. But if comedy is natural to you, one of the things you must do – you must be fearless. In all my career of almost 20 years running, I’ve only apologized once, which is totally against comedy… The only person I apologized to was TuFace and that’s because I love him so much, I didn’t want to have issues with him. Yeah! But above all things, don’t forget the God factor because no man doeth this thing if God is not with him. I came to realize that in the whole thing that we do, talent is just 10 percent. You have to have integrity, you have to have relationships, you have to have a style, you have to have a niche of your own. So, if you put all of these together, you’re on your way to the top. I tell a good story in such a funny way, unlike a lion went here and went there. These are some of the things that I think you must do if you want to succeed.
So, what are the elements of a good joke?
The elements of a good joke? Well, your punch lines must be hidden. A comedian is a deceiver, he takes you from where you want to go, but you don’t know where he’s going, so you follow. A comedian is just like a good leader, he tells you let’s go here, you follow him, but you don’t know where you will land. That is a comedian. And your punch lines must be hidden because if the audience already knows where you are going, they’re not going to laugh, because there’s no comedy no more. So, if you want to have a good joke… a good joke is that very joke that is related to what is happening now and people can relate to it, but they never see the comedy side of it. You can talk about a trending story and bring the comedy out of it without people seeing the comedy aspect of it. That’s a good joke because they just know a story, but they never knew you could draw a punch line out of it. Secondly, a good joke must be relational. You know me, I don’t just want to crack jokes out of something that you already know, but to also bring fun out of it.
What are the attributes of a good comedian?
Well, the attributes of a good comedian, like I said before – you have to be bold, you have to be fearless, you have to be creative and then, you must have your own style. If you are a comedian who knows how to freestyle, like you can do spontaneity, if that is your style, groom it very well, because I know a young man in Abuja, when you talk about spontaneity, he’s king in that area. He doesn’t bother to tell stories. If you punch him, he’ll punch you back, and that’s good. So, if that’s your thing, develop it, be good at it and make sure you make it perfect.
Earlier on, you talked about creativity. What are the best ways for a comedian to come up with good jokes?
As a comedian, you must be a good reader; jokes are like ideas. You can read books that’s not even comedy-related. I read books on finance, politics, I read books on health, then you begin to get an idea of what a joke should look like. So, if you want to be creative, you must be a good reader. Secondly, you must be a good listener, so to speak. Every comedian must have a good mentor or even more and these people find time to listen to them, find time to analyse them and know how they handle their issues. That’s how I see it. Me, I like to be creative in the morning, when it is very calm and I don’t have much distractions and then I begin to read. Apart from reading, I can also take trending issues and meditate on them and also take social issues and meditate on them and see what I can do to relate it to other people in such a way that they’ll not be hurt, but they’ll laugh. So, that’s what we mean to be creative. You have to learn how to separate yourself. I stayed in Ikorodu for 10 years just trying to tell myself I’ve not made it at all. I created room for hunger in my spirit even though every of my mate was living on the island. Let hunger push you towards creativity, because believe me, nothing pushes creativity like hunger. The moment you begin to feel like you have arrived, you discover that you can’t create no more. So, I created that environment for myself. If you really want to be creative, you must learn how to separate yourself from people, you must learn how to read. If you are a believer, you must learn how to pray because these things come like an idea and the idea flies, it occurs to you, it also occurs to another. So, if you get that idea, you begin to develop immediately before you try it out in a show. If you pull these correctly, I think you have more than enough jokes to kill a show.
What do you like most about being a comedian?
Well, the gift of comedy is so beautiful because a lot of you may not know this – before we ever come out to crack a joke, we’ve cracked it indoors and it made us laugh. So, before you ever laughed at my joke, I had started laughing over it in my closet. I like that about being a comedian; how you can make yourself happy by your own creativity. Secondly, I like the fact that comedy can just make you to become fearless, that kind of boldness that you don’t get from alcohol, you don’t get from drugs, you get it naturally because you know you have stuff to say. It brings out strength from within you, it begins to make you talk. I like that. It’s just that I don’t like the fact that they don’t take you seriously.
What don’t you like about being a comedian?
They don’t take you seriously. And for me as a comedian, I’m a social commentator and because I’m a social commentator, I like to talk about issues and I’ve done a lot that really caused me a lot of problems. People sometimes just forget that you’re a comedian and then, they begin to castigate you and judge you according to what you say. They have forgotten that these are just jokes. I’ve cracked jokes about our light (power) issue before and the Minister of Mines and Power was around the hall, he got angry and took the microphone from my hand and embarrassed me publicly and asked me to go. He told SSS to follow me to my hotel room in Hilton and lock me up until the event was over. I was sad, I was depressed, it was Donald Duke that came to rescue me. That was a joke that the Minister of Mines and Power didn’t have enough humour sense to grasp; everybody was laughing, even people that were in the diplomatic corps were laughing because they knew that we had light issue, but the Minister of Mines and Power didn’t find that funny at all and though I was embarrassed, I don’t like that aspect of being a comedian where they take you too seriously over an issue. There was a time when Buhari came on board, everybody was scared to talk about Buhari because they had started to see him as a god. But I’m just like a gynaecologist, no matter who comes to me, I do my job. Even if you’re my pastor’s wife and you have a problem, I will ask you to lie down and take off your clothes and do my job. So, I don’t find it funny when people take us seriously, forgetting that these guys are just cracking jokes. That’s one aspect of it, and then the other part, when you step out of being a comedian and you want to say real things about life, they don’t take you seriously. They don’t. In my own family, my children love to watch me talk, even when I say something serious, they like to laugh, because you can’t hide if you’re a comedian. Sometimes I have to scold my kids. But even at that, I’m laughing and they’re also laughing. And sometimes people just look at comedians as foolish people. Some of them don’t even know we have degrees that we kept somewhere, some of them don’t even know we went to university, we went through the four walls of a university, studied for six years and then strikes, eight years, and then we decided to put that aside and pick up a gift because Nigeria is not offering you anything right now. They don’t take us like people who are serious people. Yes, we are very funny people, but then some of these comedians are Master’s degree holders. Look at Helen Paul, Ph.D holder and yet she’s still behaving like a child. That’s the beauty of being a comedian.
At what point should a comedian be taken seriously?
Well, as a comedian, if you learn how not to say the truth frivolously, they’ll begin to take you seriously, because if what you have said once, twice, thrice and so on actually came to pass in the course of doing your comedy, they’ll begin to take you seriously, they’ll begin to look beyond the just cracking joke to someone who’s very serious about the issues of life and the society. If the likes of Ali Baba crack jokes today, Ali Baba would tell you things that will make you open your mouth. That way, you will know that this man is a serious man. When you come to that level, people will start to take you seriously.
What should an upcoming comedian do to distinguish himself?
Well, if you are an upcoming comedian, listen and listen good, the truth of the matter is that you must realise that the profession you’re about to take is not a joke. My father used to say that, “The place you’ll go to and you know you’ll sleep over, you don’t go there in a hurry.” If you are a comedian and you want to come into the business, be ready because when I first started, I killed sharks, I killed whales, I killed Goliaths before I was able to get a place. So, you don’t just come into comedy thinking that you have five jokes that people are clapping for you for; that is not the end of the joke, the greater work comes when you are now known as a comedian. So, you must realise that the job you’re coming into is a day-care job, it’s almost like a lifetime. The older you get, the sweeter. You must be prepared, you must be hardworking, your materials must be fresh. If they hear the same materials two, three times, they want to hear something else. So, you don’t just come into any profession saying people said you’re good at it; you can see a lot of people who came like that and they couldn’t sustain it, that’s one. Secondly, you must be creative; you must be creative about this job that is called comedy because it is the crown of every comedian. The ability to come up with something different all the time makes you a better comedian. Thirdly, you don’t forget the God factor. If you come into this industry, you will know that there are devils in this Nigeria that you have never known. I can’t even begin to tell you the level of temptations I have faced. This our work right now, I can’t even begin to tell you. If you are not careful, they will sideline you, they will gang up against you, they will lie against you, they will do things to you that will break your heart forever. You know the game is going up everyday, there are all kinds of cliques in the game, there are all kinds of occultism, there are all kinds of shades in the game. Right now, if you don’t have the God factor, don’t even try to run this race because it is life or death. It’s either you serve God or you serve the devil, so if you’re coming into this industry, get ready to choose one of the masters and make sure you are strong with what you believe in. Me, Gordons, I have been poisoned before, in a hotel; my drink was poisoned. It took the intervention of Jehovah for me to be talking to you today. They felt like I’ve been in the game for a long time, why am I not retiring, but I’m a comedian for crying out loud! It’s also not as if I have another career. Before you come into this game, be ready.
When a comedian is contracted for an event, what must he do first?
Well, I don’t know for any other comedian, but as a comedian, for any event, No. 1, make sure you attend. As a young comedian, I failed in that area, but as I matured, I started developing strength in that area. When you invite me to a show, I do my best to be there, but as a young comedian then, we made mistakes. Some of the shows then, we couldn’t make it. As an upcoming comedian, please try as much as possible to attend shows.
What kind of jokes must a comedian not tell?
A comedian should tell every joke as far as I’m concerned. Well, a lot of people have asked me if I’m a gospel comedian, I say no. I’m not a gospel comedian, but I’m a comedian who is a Christian. With that understanding, I can tell any joke. The bottom line is I’m hustling, I’m making my money. So, from that level, I begin to have a mental inclination of how I will relate to them on that level, because if you drop it, they won’t find you funny. I’ve gone to chairman’s house before and I saw Atiku there and I saw Ibori there; I also met the French president there. Are you going to use the same approach there for men on the other side? No!
Who is chairman?
Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jnr, Glo chairman…
How do you determine a joke that will be funny while trying to conceptualize it?
I know a joke would be funny if the joke should make me laugh, being the creator of the joke. Any comedian who is incapable of laughing at his own jokes should not be expecting other people to laugh. But if you invite me to a club, as long as you’re paying me my money, I know people in the club are crazy, I give them some crazy stuff. You are just doing your job. Supposing you’re a Christian who works in a brewery, what would you do? Would you resign from producing beer? I tell any kind of joke, vulgar, raw, clean, dirty, classical, I do all, trust me. In front of the president of this country, in front of the president of Gambia, in front of the president of Ghana, in front of any high class human being, I’ve cracked a vulgar joke before, they clapped because I allowed them to use their tongue to count their teeth, but I didn’t hit it. I allowed them to complete it. So, if you have that kind of skill, any joke that comes to you is a gift, so use it well. You will never know when that joke will be demanded.
What’s the greatest thing that comedy has done for you?
Believing in myself. Comedy has made me see myself the way I ought to see myself, comedy helped me to rise above all those negative feelings like depression, things I used to feel when I was growing up. Now that I am a comedian, comedy has taught me how to be bold and be confident and to believe in myself, comedy has also taught me that life is not that simple, you have to work at it. Even if you are a comedian, not all jokes are funny, so you have to work to make yours funny. Comedy has done a lot for me and I appreciate God for that.
What would you have wanted comedy to do for you that it has not done yet?
I don’t think there’s anything; I’m good. There’s nothing I really want comedy to do for me that it has not done. By the grace of God, I’ve gotten money and I have tasted fame; I’ve gone places, I’ve met people, I have popularity, I’ve seen people healed as a result of the comedy that I did. I’ve seen people come to Christ because of comedy, so it has done everything.
You are one of the few comedians who have been able to get an endorsement deal with a telecommunication company, and that’s talking about Glo. How does that make you feel and what do you think made you qualify for that role?
Well, first of all, when I got an endorsement from Globacom, it was a huge, huge landmark for me. That suggested to me that I had been doing good in what I know how to do to a point that somebody now recognized me and appreciated what I do. I felt very appreciated for the first time doing comedy for these many years. Secondly, that also added value to what I do. It took me beyond boundaries, it took me far beyond where I could ever imagine. Thirdly, there’s no family like Globacom. If you don’t belong to that family, I’m sorry. There’s no family like Globacom, but you wouldn’t understand. I think we were only three comedians who could make it – Basketmouth, Bovi and myself. The stand-up comedians who could make it to Globacom, ask them, they’ll tell you there’s no family like Globacom. Globacom should be like Tottenham. They say you never walk alone; no, that’s Liverpool. Globacom should also add that kind of thing to their logo. Once you’re a member of the Globacom family, they don’t leave you alone and it’s one of the most outstanding things that happened to me in terms of my career as a comedian.
Earlier on, you were saying something about your chairman, Dr Mike Adenuga, Jnr. What would you say is the greatest lesson you have learnt from him?
Well, one of the lessons I’ve learnt from Dr. Mike Adenuga is that you have to be a lion and a lamb at the same time. His level of humility is humbling. This man is doing his birthday; I call him the chair of all chairs. He’s doing his birthday and the people that attended were just seven. He didn’t close the street, he didn’t shut down the nation, and this is a man that can buy the whole nation and still have some change left. He didn’t do that, nobody even knew it was his birthday; it was not in the news, it was not in the newspapers. Such an amazing a man; he can be a lion and a lamb at the same time. He has so much, but he’s decided to live like he doesn’t have nothing. I’ve learnt a lot from him. He doesn’t like those kind of praises, don’t come and start showering praises on him. No! Give it unto God. For all the blessings that that man has given unto me, I’ve not had an opportunity to tell him thank you, he doesn’t even want it, he doesn’t need it. He doesn’t lord over anybody, he’s so humble, we all sit together and gist. He likes to play, he likes to talk, we talk like we’ve known all our lives; he doesn’t assume that position of a man who is in charge of everything. Let me give you an instance, I was in this hotel called ‘O2’ on the Island. There was just one space left for his car to park, they reserved the space for him because he’s our leader. You will not believe it, chairman arrived with a 2002 Lexus jeep, that old one, he wore ankara and then, he didn’t carry escorts. He just had two bouncers in his car and he was driving himself. When he arrived and parked in that space that was left for him, the gatekeepers came to him and told him, “Oga, park at that side, we’re expecting someone special”, and he didn’t say what do you mean? He just said, “Oh, I didn’t know, let me park properly.” When he was about to park properly, the two bouncers came out from the car and asked “why are you harassing our Oga?” So, he left the car and as he was entering the restaurant, the gatekeeper still came and shouted, “is that where I told you to park?” Chairman did not say a thing, he just went to the seat reserved for him and sat down. That was when the gatekeeper realized that that was our chairman. The gatekeeper came to me and said, “Gordons, is that Oga Adenuga?” I said yes, he said it’s a lie. I made about ten jokes about that event. That’s chairman for you, a man who is so blessed, but very humble. You won’t believe he has anything. These are lessons I learnt from him. That’s why I keep it cool, I just keep it cool because life is like that.
Tell us your most memorable performance.
Well, a lot of them, but I can never forget the first time I hosted The Experience. That was remarkable for me, I performed in front of 500,000 people, it was huge, I could still hear the vibration of laughter from every angle. That was a life-changing and life-transforming experience.
Your worst outing?
My worst outing must be the one I did concerning light in Abuja, that I was escorted to my hotel room, SSS escorted me to my hotel room. That’s the worst so far.