Why have you decided to stay in Ghana despite the fact that the Nigerian comedy industry is doing far better than Ghana comedy industry?
First, I didn’t decide myself. When I came to Ghana, I just came to do something on a different platform and comedy found me. Not like I planned it, honestly. If I had I wouldn’t have come to Ghana, obviously. I came for a visit and I just realized that there are no comedians here, and since I am an actor I decided to do comedy and it picked up from there.
How would you describe the journey so far as a foreigner?
Being a foreigner, I will say it’s been tough. Going to a different country and you are ahead of the game or between the game and it’s not been easy, the criticisms, sometimes you get pushed to the side. But all the same, bit by bit we are getting there. The job is a bit slow in this part of the world. And they are not accepting it as it’s been accepted in Nigeria. So, we are gradually trying to create jobs for ourselves.
Which of the shows gave you the break?
I will say I did a couple of shows before I did the one that gave me the break. But the one that gave me the break would be Night Of Thousand Laughs with Charter House, I think that was 2011. It had Buchi, Elenu, Seyi Law, and I think Funny Bone. That was my major because after that, it started airing on TV and that was when people got to know my face.
What measures can be put in place to project the Ghanaian comedy industry to the world?
I think we should first collectively come together and work as a team. Presently, I’m going through segregation. I’m a Nigerian living in Ghana, people have been saying Nigerians are naturally funny and Ghanaians are not. But Ghanaians are funny; they just need to be listened to. And also the Ghanaian comedians need to change their mindset that with Nigeria it’s a competition, but it’s not. We are all entertainers; we should come together and build a force. Because in Nigeria they are one team, one love. Okay, this guy came up, let’s pull this guy along, that’s how they have been operating. But here, one person wants to be king, one person leading everybody. So, basically, what we need to do to make the industry solid is coming together and pulling the crowd together and pushing ourselves into the market. Those that are up there, lets join forces, work hard and prove to other countries that Ghana is strong. I am married to a Ghanaian so, practically I am part of them now, why push me aside.
What can the corporate bodies do to support comedy in Ghana?
They should sponsor us and not look down on us, because when you go to them sometimes for sponsorship, they tell you; oh! This person is on it, Charlie! I can’t sponsor the show, this person is not funny. But no, we have good comic talents in the country. For those of us that have been able to push to lime light, so far I have worked with almost all the comedians in Nigeria, I can get all the comedians in Nigeria to collectively work and join forces with us to push the industry. If it’s just Charter House doing it, we won’t get jobs, because they can’t be doing it all the time. The people here don’t love us, they have to love us first because if they don’t love us, it’s bad for us. Basically we have to collectively believe in ourselves. In Nigeria, not all the comedians are funny, no be joke. But all the same, joke na joke. It’s all about talent. For how many years I have been entertaining the same set of people, do you know how hard that is. I have to work hard all the time. Not like in Nigeria that they go round the world, with the same materials and make all the money.
Aside comedy what other things keeps you busy?
I am also an actor. I’ve done a couple of movies; I’m actually pushing forward little by little. I acted in Yvonne Nelsons’ Single, Married And Complicated. I’m actually the complicated character in the movie. And I also did another one with Majid Michel which is yet to come out. I just finished another one with Venus Film, so bit by bit we are going into the market and our voice will be heard very soon.
Has comedy paid off for you?
Yeah, because that’s the only thing I do. Though it’s a seasonal thing, unless you get something somewhere, you might have to wait for a gig to pop up and most time, they don’t know that I live in Ghana. So I don’t get gigs as such like the rest of the comedians.
And what are you doing about it?
I just launched my skit on TV, The Chronicles of Hogan. I have a programme tunes too, so they are both on TV and people can get to know that I live in Ghana. But it’s a gradual process and am wiling to wait.
Which part of Nigeria are you from?
I’m a Calabar boy. My surname is Hogan and my first name is Ekpeyong.
Why did you choose to marry a Ghanaian?
I didn’t choose, you never know where your missing rib is. If you think because you are a Nigerian, you must marry a Nigerian, na lie. You can marry a Nigerian and tomorrow you divorce her. If your missing rib in Borno State, won’t you go there and that’s where the bombing is taking place. (Laughs).
And how is married life?
It’s give and take. Beside that I married a friend and we are living together, I don’t see any change. Just that she dey chop my money. Aside all that, I am enjoying it. We got married last year in October. No kids yet. Though she is Ghanaian, her parents are based in Nigeria and she was born and bred there. So, I think that’s why we clicked.
I have a lot. I watch a lot of Bill Gillmey. I watch some deep comedians in America, Dion Cole, and few others. In Nigeria, from the origin it has been Okey Bakassi… Hogan is a collection of Okey Bakassi, Klint the Drunk, Gandoki, Basketmouth, and Julius Agwu. That’s a collection of me, because I do all, stand, mimic, dance, sing and all stuff just to make the people laugh.
From the things I see. I chat with people, whatever I do; I do it with a different mind. I don’t receive information like a normal person; I do it with a twisted mind.
Do you have any advice for up and coming comedians?
First, don’t be up for money. Be up for the passion. If you have the passion, you will be ready to overcome all challenges. Standup comedy is not like music, where you go everywhere with the same song. You have to work hard to be able to pull through because if you perform to an audience and you are not funny, they are gone. You won’t see them again. They will never call you again. For songs, once you play and mime to it, people jump to it. Before you start singing, the crowd is already singing, so it makes the job easier. But for comedians, the moment you are introduced, everywhere becomes silent and next voice they hear is yours, you better be funny. Don’t look funny but be funny. If you can identify who you can entertain, then you can easily entertain. Know your target audience, take jokes to them. Don’t bring children’s jokes to an adult platform, you will flop. But don’t go for the money, try and enjoy it, that’s it and be talented.
Any message for your fans back in Nigeria?
I love Nigerians. Their sense of humor can be low once they don’t know you. So, please be open for us. Show us love “abeg”. We are here to entertain; you should appreciate me for that. It’s not easy, performing for VIPS, CEOs, PROs. These guys have gone places, they have seen it all, what do you want to say, so you just have to be courageous. Nervousness is natural, but make sure you have something to say and be spontaneous. Ali Baba, boss! I respect you too much. “Naija” for life.