Godwin Komone, professionally known as Gordons is one of Nigeria’s foremost comedians. He started out as a musician in his church choir before delving into comedy over a decade ago.
A graduate of Integrated Science at the Delta State University, Gordons belongs to the top league of comedians alongside Basketmouth, AY, I Go Dye and Bovi. A father-of-five, he tells PREMIUM TIMES more about his career and background in this interview.
PT: Quite a number of Nigerian comedians including you have their roots in Warri. Why is Warri referred to as the home of comedy?
Gordons: It was a good thing that I was raised in Warri. This is because long before comedy was yet to be developed in Lagos it was already big in Warri. This was long before Ali Baba brought it to limelight.
In Warri there is something we call “wording”. It is like a competition where we insult each other spontaneously. I learnt how to be spontaneous as stand up comedian in Warri. If you say a thing to me on stage you know I will respond immediately.
That was the training every one of us learnt from Warri. Those days when we were doing wording, if someone throws a word at you and you didn’t reply you wouldn’t be able to play with anybody for a whole week.
So, you needed to be strong and your mouth needed to be sharp and ready. When someone throws a jab at you, they expect you to say at least five more things to them.
So, when I engage anyone on stage I wouldn’t allow you to defeat me because I know where I come from. Warri taught us to be tenacious, original and spontaneous.
PT: You hinted that you started out as musician. Why didn’t you stick to music?
Gordon: Well, my music was laced with a lot of comedy. I decided to pay attention to the comic aspect at some point because it was gaining more attention and fan base. I will still do music, it’s just that comedy came calling when I was doing music and I had to heed its call.
PT: Most musicians say they started from church. Is this your story too?
Gordons: Yes, I started singing in church. I was groomed in the choir, World of Life Bible Church choir in Delta State. I learnt the rudiments of music and what it meant to be a professional singer in the church.
PT: Would you say that music comedians are failed musicians?
Gordons: I don’t think so. No one is gifted in only one particular area. Most Nigerian comedians are musicians in their own right. It is nothing but our additional gift. I don’t think they are in competition with any mainstream musician. A music comedian is not a musician. We are just doing what we love to do.
PT: They say it is difficult to make the average Nigerian audience laugh. How do you handle awkward moments on stage?
Gordons: I don’t feel bad. Sometimes when you crack a joke, the audience doesn’t laugh immediately but they will eventually laugh after a few minutes.
It is called “hear now and laugh later joke”. And there are other instances when you crack a joke and it comes out flat.
When this occurs, I don’t need to be told that my joke was flat. This kind of joke affects me psychologically. But, if you do not know how to waive it away it will affect your entire performance.
Once I crack joke and it hits the post (goes flat) I quickly change my method. I try other things. Perhaps the joke wasn’t meant for that audience.
PT: What qualities must a good comedian possess?
Gordons: A good joke should make the comedian laugh first (internally) before telling it to the crowd. A joke might be derogatory or insulting, but a good comedian must know how to embellish his jokes.
He must also know how to weed out the insults or at least smokescreen it. It is just like Tetracycline. It is colourful and easy to swallow, but it is bitter.
A good comedian should not only make people laugh, he should also educate them with his jokes. For me that is the height of comedy. A comedian should be able to take a look at the situation in the country, make jokes out of it and also educate people about it.
That’s what transforms a comedian to a social commentator. I have a few of my brothers who do this well like Bovi and Accepela.
PT: You are quite vocal about the state of the nation. What drives you?
Gordons: Frustration. My country is frustrating me. Take for instance, the Nigerian police. If they want to work, they will work. But because of the system, sometimes they just don’t want to work. They too are frustrated. How much is their salary? Recently, I heard that the basic salary of a soldier, a soldier, who carries a gun, is N45, 000. Now, you know why their slap is ‘wonderful’. N45,000 for a man with children! How is he going to pay fees? People are angry. If you give everyone a microphone to speak, you will not believe what you will hear.
We have seen more suicides in this dispensation than in any other. Third Mainland Bridge is now another way to heaven, beside the fact that it is the way to the Island. How can someone park their SUV and jump into the ocean? People who are trekking have never jumped, but those who are rich jump. It is because they are frustrated. It is not enough to drive a big car, what if you cannot maintain it? These situations get me angry and I want to voice out.
It is better to say something than to die in silence. I want people to know that I am not happy with what I am seeing because I know that Nigeria can be better than this.
We cannot allow a group of people to hijack this country. This is the most “god-fearing” nation in the world. The issue is no longer in God’s hand; it is in the people’s hand. We are religious, but not godly.
PT: Have you ever been whisked away on stage because of a joke.
Gordons: Well, I am like a gynaecologist. No matter who comes to my hospital, I will do my job. Even if my pastor’s wife comes to my hospital, as long it is a gynaecological problem, I am in the position to tell her to take off her cloth, I will do so. I am only being professional. The fact that I cracked a joke that angered some politicians doesn’t stop me from doing what I love to do. It is my job. To crack a joke is not a joke. I do my thing knowing that I have satisfied my conscience.
I have cracked a joke about a lot of people and when they see me, they react, and when they react they give me more jokes.
PT: Does your social commentaries affect the number of jobs you get?
Gordons: I don’t know about that because I get booked for shows like any other comedian. Sometimes I do more. The truth of the matter is whether they give me the show or not that will not stop me from doing what I am doing. The late Fela has taught us to be steadfast and dogged in our position. However, as a comedian, I know what to say when I am on stage. If my audience are politicians, it will be unprofessional to say things that might offend them. Wisdom is profitable to direct.
PT: How do you handle social media trolls?
Gordons: To be honest, I am not a social media person. And that is because I do not like gossip. A lot of people use social media as an avenue to put people down. I only put things that educate and build people on my handle. People hide under the guise of social media to say nasty things. I call them cowards. Whatever you want to say to me, you must be bold enough to say it to my face. And whatever happens to you will be the result of how you said it.
PT: Tell us about your childhood?
Gordons: My parents separated when I was three months. My grandmother raised me. I saw my mother for the first time when I was 16. I was pained because even when I saw her at the age of 16, she didn’t want to see me. It was painful. I was a child looking for love. I didn’t have any place to run to but to my mum. My father at the time had another wife. You know how stepmothers behave. So, I desperately needed love from my mum, but she didn’t want to see me because she was married to someone else, who was richer than my father. You know what it means for you to start feeling like you are a crime! It affected me psychologically for a long time. But I thank God for it all.
PT: You are fond of saying that your ministry is headed for the permanent site. What’s the update?
Gordons: We have left permanent site since, we are now in the website. That is where the money is. Small boys are picking money on website, and you are talking about permanent site. In fact, everybody is on website. That’s how we do.
PT: Are there things people still don’t know about you?
Gordons: People don’t know that I am shy, private and God-fearing. Most people don’t know I have never smoked in my life. They don’t believe it. They think I get high before I go on stage, but I have been a church boy all my life.