In addition to being an OAP on NaijaFM Lagos, Emeka Erem is a standup comedian who has been credited to be very creative with his jokes. A protège of AY comedian, he also writes for the AY Magazine. This is in addition to being a singer. Simply known as Ajebo, the all-round artiste speaks with DUPE AYINLA-OLASUKANMI on his many parts, especially his latest project, the House of Ajebo.
TELL us about this new project you are working on? The new project is called House of Ajebo. I am bringing humour and broadcasting together which is what I do on radio. This is a personal work and I am trying to give a new face to comedy. Before you bring even, you have to bring something new to the table, so we are taking comedy to another level. I just dropped a new single, it is a song but it is comedy. It is trendy and everybody wants to listen to the song. We will release the video soon.
What is the House of Ajebo all about?
You know everybody is doing audio comedy CD where they just crack jokes from the beginning to the end. I am doing a comedy album. It is a comedy album in that it has about 15 tracks. What we are doing is the first track may be a set of jokes, the second and third track skit; it is about different scenarios that are still making you to laugh. It is not like the stereotype where you just crack jokes.
I want mine to be something that you can say you want to play me a joke and just skip to that particular one. So I am doing a comedy album, after which we will shoot the video of the all album.
How is this different from what others are doing?
Yes. But this is different because it is coming out in animation form. This will come out about two months after the audio is out. I am doing animation because comedy deals with metaphor s and imagery. Basically we create a world pictures in your head. There are some funny twists that we use in comedy. Humanly it is not possible, but animation can make it possible.
What we are trying to do, is you that we are cracking the jokes to, we are trying to take the stress of you trying to think, before laughing. So we are trying to break it down for you. If you are supposed to think for three seconds and laugh for one minute, then it means that you will laugh for one minute, three seconds, because everything is broken down.
Why the use of animation?
The reason I am using animation is because I am packaging it for the international scene. If you listen to a lot of comedians, they would rather crack their jokes in pidgin. If you listen to the CD, I crack my jokes in English because I am packaging for the international community. I want people in the UK and all around the world to hear my jokes and be able to understand and like it.
It is just a project for the Nigerian market; it is a project that would put the Ajebo brand on the international map. And it is not like the Nigerian jokes that are told straight. Mine is broken into different tracks and audio skits. AY is my mentor and if you study it, you will discover that he brought video skit to the Nigerian comedy. It was there, but he is the one, that put a face to it. I am bringing audio skit, my papa don do video skit, make I do audio. So I am bringing audio and animated skits.
As one who tells his jokes in English, do you think you audience will find it funny?
Like I said earlier comedy, strives on the play on words, metaphors, and imagery. So if you have your diction right, you can make people laugh without using pidgin. However it is very difficult to take away pidgin from Nigerian comedy. So even if I am using English, you might find out that towards the end, the first line might come in pidgin. When I say I am using English, it means 90% of what you are hearing.
Being an OAP, a comedian, MC, and a musician, how do manage your time?
Basically it is what I love to do so I do it effortlessly. If there was a course like comedy, I would have studied it. There wasn’t, so I had to study Mass Communication. For instance, the House of Ajebo project has been on my mind for two years. Wherever you see any product of Ajebo, it is two years of continuous planning. Animation is not easy to do in Nigeria, it is not cheap. The fact that we are doing it right now is the grace of God. I am on air weekdays 11am to 4pm. When I close I go home and start to think. At night, when I have events, I go. Weekends when I have to MC, I go too. Basically God has been faithful.
Is Ajebo involved with a lady?
When you say involve with a lady, it is very complicated. Actually I am not going to get married until I make N100m. That is my target. What I am saying in essence is, there is a lady but I would like to achieve what I set out to achieve before I get married.
Do you think the lady in question will be ready to wait until you meet that target?
By God’s grace I should get married in another two or three years which means I have to make the cash within the years I have mentioned.
Is it possible for a comedy to make such amount within such short period?
Big thanks to Ali Baba the king of comedy. He gave comedy a new face, for people to be willing to pay good money for it. I want to be able to go to the UK and anywhere in the world and put up a good show that will be very big. When I say I have a target, I am working towards it. When I think of comedy, I think of the business aspect.
How easy was it for you to get into this profession with other competitors?
Well for a lot of comedians, you hear them say na hunger make me discover my talent. For me, it was different, hunger did not beat me. I wasn’t born into a rich family but we were okay. My mum is very funny, so I know where the comedy came from. I discovered it early in Secondary School and started working towards it from a very early stage by studying books. I am a seasoned comedian and can get my inspiration from anywhere; reading papers, watching movies and other comedians perform. I have being on radio for like five years now from Enugu but I have just done a year in Lagos.
Is the House of Ajebo collaborating with other companies?
No it’s not, but I have a team that I am working with on the project. I have Eclipse with me, who is a rapper, singer and producer. He is the one working on everything that has to do with the audio.
How are you faring as regards finances?
It has not been easy. It is like helping Peter to pay Paul. I collect my salary and event money and put it into the project. It has been really tasking financially and I have to do a lot of budgeting. Very soon we will be going on TV stations and YouTube. Before it goes on CD, we will go on TV to give it a face. If we can get a TV station to buy all the series out rightly, beautiful; if we can get a telecom company to buy our skits, beautiful.
Is going on YouTube not a disadvantage?
It will not. We will just give it three or four different skits for people to download and share. The House of Ajebo is very big. We have a clothing line that we will be floating very soon. It was running but I had to stop it to concentrate on this one. We will re-launch later.
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