EMEKA Smith, is no doubt one of the rising stars in the comedy industry. An unrepentant believer in talent and hard work, he is one comedian who is gradually paying his dues. In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he bared his mind on his recent award as Best Upcoming Comedian in Nigeria, the event that brought him to limelight, how his name was changed from MC Doggy to Emeka Smith and how he was chased out of a local church drama group while he was much younger.
Congratulations on your recent award.
Thank you so much. I give glory to God, it feels good to know that people know you are working. I have been nominated for almost all the awards in the industry, but this is the first one that I am winning. That is, The Best New Comedian 2010. It means as an upcoming comedian, I have arrived.
How and when did the journey into comedy start?
It all started in the church, I used to be in the drama group in church. I noticed after every drama ministration people walk up to me to say you are too funny and this is supposed to be a serious drama. I was asked to leave the drama group by my leaders, I now had to form a comedy group called, The Isaacs. We acted strictly comedy, we made waves between the neighbourhood, we decided to put up a concert, a comedy concert. We invited Jedi, Sheddi Baba, Dauda and so on. On the day of the show, I decided to introduce Jedi on stage, I decided to drop two jokes before welcoming him, after the show, Jedi told me there was something in me that the world has to see. So, he picked interest in me and my friend, Seyi Law, he changed our names. My name then was MC Doggy, he changed it to Emeka Smith, my friend was Sheye Easy, he changed it to Seyi Law. He also introduced us to some celebrities, took us to shows and the breakthrough was when he introduced us to AY, who was about organizing a comedy competition, he told us we have to participate. I could remember I did not have money for the form, AY gave us the form free. Seyi Law won the first edition, I came second. I came the next month again, I came second. I came again and again and still came second, Seyi encouraged me not to give up because it was a monthly competition. Late Abagana too encouraged me to go again, I did and won, that was how I came into limelight.
How do you feel being an upcoming comedian?
Being an upcoming comedian was not easy because I worked with so many senior colleagues. I have worked with Basketmouth, Jedi, AY, Julius Agwu, Gbenga Adeyinka and Basorge to mention a few and also Yaw of Wazobia FM. I was ready to learn, I give all the senior colleagues all the thanks, but don’t forget I am still learning. But it was a remarkable moment being an upcoming comedian, you have to be ready to learn, no man is an island.
How did you discover your talent in comedy?
As I said earlier, I started in the church. Before any performance, I would introduce the group. When doing that I cracked jokes and people laughed so much that I got invitations to other churches. Gradually, I knew there was a future not only as an actor but also as a stand-up comedian.
When will you say you came into comedy professionally?
When I won the AY Open Mic Night Competition in December 2006, since then I started getting good pay for comedy. I perform at high profile shows like AY Live, Nite of A Thousand Laughs, Rhythm Unplugged, Crack Ya Ribs, Laff and Jams, Lagbaja’s Motherlan’, Cool FM Praise Jams and so many corporate events for multinational companies.
The very first time you featured in a show, how did you feel and what was the reception like?
That was either Laff and Jams with Basketmouth or AY Live. I can’t really remember the first one but it was great. I remember AY Live 1, I felt like a star because my performance was wild. It was so good that right from when I climbed the stage, people laughed till I left. I got a standing ovation for that show. That day it was at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. After the show people were snapping pictures with me, I was so humbled with the reception I got.
How do you source your jokes?
I source my jokes when I hang out with friends or I use what happened between me and my father when I was growing up because my father was a very funny man. At times, things that happened in my family. Sometimes, I crack jokes with issues that affects the country and the common man.
Who is your role model?
I have four role models in the comedy industry, I have Basketmouth, AY, Julius Agwu and Maleke. I respect them for different reasons. I have worked with them and they have some qualities they possess that I adore.
What are the qualities?
If you watch Basketmouth very well, you will notice that his speech articulation and delivery is very great, so many comedians look up to him when it comes to smooth and succinct delivery of jokes. AY is very creative, he is the master of creativity. Ideas and packaging are flowing in his blood vessels, he has a very great idea about packaging and creativity, bringing much out of nothing. Julius Agwu has spontaneity and his dress sense cannot be compared with that of any stand-up comedian in Nigeria. He is a naturally gifted comedian, who does not even plan or practice comedy before his shows. Maleke is very gifted when it comes to artistic nature of his speech delivery, he performs more than talking. These are people I look up to that stands me out as the award winner of the Best Upcoming Comedian in Nigeria.
Do you run to your models for assistance?
Not really, I have never asked them for physical cash but I ask for their presence in any project I am embarking on and I also ask them for shows when I am less busy, I ask them to help me out with events they can’t attend, so that I will have something in my pocket.
What are the challenges that you have faced over time?
Doing jokes is not easy, that is one of the greatest challenges. Your fans want to hear fresh jokes, not stale jokes. So, as a comedian, you need to meet up, you need to be very creative so that you won’t disappoint your fans or have a bad day on stage. There are some things you can’t do as a popular comedian, you have to package yourself all the time.
Are you in any relationship?
Not yet, I still dey find the right person. As soon as I see the person, I will be the first person to let you know.
Can you define your ideal woman?
My ideal woman has to be beautiful, God fearing, great character, good cook, understanding and caring.
Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
By God’s grace, I see myself as a brand in Nigeria and beyond. Also raising younger comedians.
What was the craziest thing a female fan has ever done to you?
Oh my God! I can remember vividly, after one particular performance, a female fan walked up to me and gave me a French kiss, I was short of words.
- THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2010