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20 YEARS AS A COMEDIAN: How my grandma showed me the path to follow – I Go Dye

I Go Dye
Since Ali Baba and his band of humour merchants arrived the scene of comedy in the country, a couple of decades ago, the terrain has adorned a new look, a look of glamour which is a sharp contrast to the bleak look we used to associate with comedians and their lots. Gone are the days people regarded comedians as misfits who should feed off the crumbs coming from the well-to-do Nigerians. They are the ones calling the shots now and smiling to the bank. As Ali Baba once so
blatantly declared “ Comedy is no longer a funny business but a serious business”. Seeing how life has turned from a joke to a jute bag of goodies for today’s comedians, one can safely say, they are living their dreams. Though like every journey through a rough terrain most of these guys who are millionaires now, had to go through sorrow, tears and blood, like Fela would say. Almost everyone of them has a grass to grace story and Francis Agoda, people know as I Go Dye, is no exception. We have seen his mansions. We have seen his beautiful family and we have heard his name being chanted, cheered and celebrated by the high and low but the road he travelled to fame and good fortune was never paved with gold. He had to wait in line and paid his dues. Hear his story: In the beginning “It all started way back in primary school after years of staying with my grandma in the village. When I started school, my peers were amazed at certain things I said because of my vast knowledge of issues relating to uprightness and the wisdom that I exhibited among my peers. Later, I started performing at events at a tender age and we, I Go Save and I, later developed mock news on Bendel Broadcasting Service, a program that we used to reflect on issues affecting our immediate environment. I Go Dye At that time, it was expressing a normal hobby and interest, like playing football on the street. I was not concerned about anything, because there was no insight of earning any financial benefit from the talent. I just saw myself being sought by fans and neighbours who wanted me to be around them, just to make them laugh. So, to me, it was a delight, having the privilege to be needed around people older than me, all because I could say some things to make them laugh,” says the humour merchant who has embarked on a world tour to celebrate his 20 years as a professional stand-up comedian. “Well, growing up wasn’t rosy at all,” he says. Some said they had silver spoon but for me, there was no spoon at all, it was just fending for myself. All my early days were spent in the village with my grandmother, who nurtured me with so much traditional values. These things later amused my peers when I got back to primary school in Warri. There was so much difficulty for my age mates to comprehend my ideas and values of life. It was seen most times that I was saying things that were not achievable because they felt I knew more than my age. I had difficulty also conforming to their standard and it took me sometime to study their moral upbringing, which was different from the way life was in the village and living with an old woman. More so, the challenges of life were so much it took my strong personal conviction to stand firmly on my belief and dreams” The talent Contrary to the belief that comedians are born and not made, I Go Dye, believes having the talent is not enough to make it big. In his own opinion it is a combination of talent, hard-work and training. “All of them compliment one another, but a rare talent is more elevating, considering that flexibility makes it easier to express the skills when the talent is there. But I strongly believe that preparedness creates room for excellence, so talent, hard-work and training are like the spiritual trinity in the Christian faith of comedy. You need all these to sustain the creativity” he enthused. Handling difficult times No entertainer would ever claim they had their road all laid out for them to walk over. There are always the high and low moments, which could and have made many of them throw in the towel. I Go Dye definitely had his share of moments of ups and downs. According to him it doesn’t matter how the situation turns out, it is how you turn in that matters most. “In everyone’s life there are quiet moments of reflections, but that doesn’t mean discouragement. I have always nurtured a positive conviction regarding any decision that I take. Comedy had been my first love, even when life projected more seemingly advantageous opportunities, like the scholarship I won as a student, I still chose the comedy path. It has been very demanding; establishing this brand and living with it without any scandal. At the early stage of my career, I had series of disappointing moments when I wasn’t seen as good enough to be on certain events. I was denied performance slots at the night of a thousand laughs four times. My major moment started after I earned the privilege to perform eventually at the night of a thousand laughs and the outcome of that year’s edition (2000), which brought unprecedented appeal and enthusiasm to Nigerians who started appreciating comedy across the shores of this country. I was subsequently offered a contract on a tour across countries in Europe. Along the line, I also featured in special events held by business executives, both for federal and state governments across the country. This soaring reputation helped my career to develop and inspired other comedians to walk into the comedy hall of fame.” His rituals before going on stage Every entertainer has a ritual or routine they go through before going on stage. In this regard, it is different strokes for different folks. While some may feel in need of a drink or to smoke, others simply go down on their knees to pray. For Francis Agoda, it is maintaining a positive mental outlook and more. “I naturally have a quiet and calm disposition and luckily I do not see any reason to assume negative things. My major true-life story surrounding our existence as a people, so I leverage on this truth, to relate with every audience, depending on the type of event and the average age of the people involved. So I have developed a spontaneous approach that allows a steady flow of issues and a simple disposition that creates that realization of our collective responses on ethnic, religious, civil and professional levels. So, that keeps the audience to easily get in touch with the issues surrounding the jokes.” Intimidation from other comedians When asked if he had ever felt intimidated by other comedians during a show, knowing they might have done all he could possibly do to carry the crowd along, the star humour merchant retorted: “There is always the inner feeling that you are paid to come and perform a professional responsibility. I am almost saddled with the privilege to be the last comedian to be called on stage most times, so it has a challenging effect to maintain the tempo set by the other artistes. But that puts me on a constant need to live up to expectation. But the most deciding factor is knowing and accepting that there is only one man on a stage at a time, so what happens before I go on stage is just what goes on after I leave the stage, because the stage will always accommodate the stars like the cloud.” On always keeping his family in the background Apart from a picture here or there, so little is known about I Go Dye’s family. There are even some people who believe the comedian is single. But he is very much married. So where does his family come in, in celebrating his 20 years career as a comedian? “They are so closely associated and supportive of everything that you see around my brand today. I am lucky to be the man in the spotlight, but behind every extraordinary activity that is done, you can be rest assured that their collective input is there” he beamed. Why he’s celebrating his 20th  anniversary as a comedian with a world tour from abroad and not from Nigeria “The 20th anniversary is designed by my management company, they structured all the activities for the event in a way that they felt would achieve the best results. For a while now, I have not been able to create adequate means of reaching out to my numerous fans outside the country. The 20th anniversary will kick off as planned, but it is just to keep fans happier and closer to the I Go Dye brand. My Nigerian fans are so special, letting them know that no matter how high we go, home is the best we shall bring the most electrifying moments back home.” Speaking further on the anniversary, he said, “The synopsis of the 20th anniversary event will be unfolding one after the other. After the event at the indigo  02.UK, we shall unveil the rest of the program to the general public. But for now, let me just take you through the introduction slowly, through I Go Dye on a diplomatic mission, keeping you guessing and expecting the unexpected. Most remarkable people he has met In the course of his career I Go Dye has met many influential Nigerians, but who and who among them strikes him as an unusual personality and why? “Everyone of my fans that had stopped me at any point in life, to express their love and appreciation for my work, has been so wonderful and they all remain so special in my thoughts. It really takes a selfless heart to openly appreciate one’s little effort, yes, I have met governors, presidents and other renowned personalities, but my fans are my true heroes. There cannot be enough words to express how inestimable they are to me” The future he foresees for Nigeria I see a great country; so strong in all standards. This country is divinely blessed. 20 years ago, there were no solid or rich entertainment profile in Nigeria, but today Nigerian entertainers are the pride of the Black race, translating their creativity into life-changing potentials and inspiring the younger generation all across the globe. This country will certainly grow much larger than it is right now in no distant future

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