We’ve all known him as a comedian and then an MC, (oh and then as an actor). But since Teju berthed with the Teju Babyface Show, Nigerians are wondering if he is going to be the future of terrestrial television. We sit him down and grill him on this new, exciting phase – BY MADUEKWE OJO MBILA
Your fans will like to take a piece of you with them at the end of the interview, what part of Teju are you willing to share with them?
My hair. No other part of my body, just my hair. I cannot cut off my fingers, can I (Laughs)?
Let’s start from the beginning – what is your full name and alias?
My full name is, or is it are, whichever one is correct. My name is ‘Oyelakingbe Gbadunwonuola Olateju’. It is from Olateju that Teju is derived. I am from a village called Ajawa, near Ogbomosho in Oyo State.
What was your family like, growing up?
What most healthy Christian families were like in the eighties; loving parents who raised us up as born again Christians. Brothers and sisters around; birthday parties every weekends; Michael Jackson thriller was reigning. It was fun to be a kid in Lagos in the eighties.
What did you study at the university?
B.Sc Insurance, University of Lagos.
Most people say you were wonderful in ‘Diamond Rings’, so what exactly happened to the charming boy from that movie and why the total flight from Nollywood?
Nothing happened to Nollywood, I just followed my career as it came along. I tried acting and I tried comedy. The comedy industry was more structured as small as it were then, and acting, maybe was not as welcoming as comedy was for me. It wasn’t like I deliberately left acting. For sometime I thought acting was what I would do. I discovered comedy along the line, got more serious and that’s how I found myself here. After I began to do comedy, I didn’t want to act again, I discovered I wanted to do comedy. Because I’m a lazy actor, I cannot stand being on set all day, shooting different scenes at different times.
Can you tell us a little bit about Teju off the stage?
I’m shy, and don’t go out a lot. Give me a book, a movie, power bike, a ticket to travel out of the country, a woman that I love and who loves me back and I’m fine. The thing is, if am on stage for something else, like an award, I will be very shy, so self conscious and not knowing what to say. The only time I’m ever confident on stage is when am doing comedy or being an MC.
What exact experience made you know that you had the gift of a comedian?
Most of us do know that it’s a thing of passion. It was actually my friends who figured it out. They were the ones who thought I could do it. Then I tried it and found out that I enjoyed it. That’s how I came to become a comedian. So, I went into comedy professionally in 2000.
Your parents’ reaction?
Of course back in the days, it wasn’t so popular, so my parents were doubtful. Their main concern was that I finish school before I decided what I wanted to do. Initially they had their reservations, but it was about how serious I was as a person and what value I could bring to people from doing comedy. But as time went on, their fears were dispelled.
Back then, when you told people your profession was comedy, what were their reactions? Nothing, it was always cool. It has always been cool to be a comedian. I came into comedy at a time when people like Alibaba, Basorge, Mohammed Danjuma, and Okey Bakassi had already made comedy begin to look glamorous, so it was cool to be a comedian when I started.
Have you ever shared or cracked a joke that got you into trouble?
Yes, in 2001. It had to do with the corporate affairs manager of a bank. It was when I was starting and I made a remark that wasn’t exactly snide but maybe she had had a bad day at the office, so she did not find it funny. Later I had to recant and apologize.
It seems like you went on hibernation before you came out with your new show. Can you tell us about the period you spent preparing the show and how long it took?
It took about two years. I had to do content development, script development, raise finance, logistics, channels to broadcast afterwards, and channels of distribution.
Are you going to continue being an MC while you still do your show?
Not for long, maybe sometime as time allows, putting into consideration a lot of factors.
Who are the kind of people we should expect in your show in the near future?
Everybody from the president down to the market women. We strive for people who are exclusive and interesting. If you’ve seen somebody everywhere then it’s not likely that you are going to see them on our show. We want people who are exclusive and exciting too.
How about producing a comedy film?
I can do that. Right now we are producing a comedy talk show that strives to bring out the humorous side of our guests which a lot of talk shows don’t do. That is our niche. We want our guests to come out in their humorous element while we discuss topical issues. We are doing that now. If tomorrow I decide I want to shoot a movie with comic undertones that will be decided by the leading of the Spirit.
Talking about the Holy Spirit, can you tell us about your God?
I’m a shameless Holy Spirit addict; Chairman of the company is the Lord Jehovah; Managing Director is the Lord Jesus Christ and the sweet Holy Spirit is the Chief Operating Officer, while I am just the Chief Steward, an unashamed Christian.
What do you have to tell your fans?
Find out what you are supposed to do with your life and the only person who will tell you that is God. Sometimes it takes a while, He doesn’t tell you directly all the time too, but as you stay with Him a path begins to emerge that you are supposed to follow and He will lead you along that path, and after a while you’ll know that this is what you are supposed to do. So stay with God, because if you don’t, you are like the leaf being blown about by the wind that moves in every direction the wind takes it.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
New York, London, Paris, England, Dubai, Lagos, any of these places. It could also be that I will be in a board meeting discussing the shares of our company and the future of the conglomerate that we run. Also I may be on stage in countries round the world.