Multi-gifted comedian, Teju Oyelakin, popularly known as Teju Babyface, has not only stunned and wowed Nigerians with his new brainchild – ‘The Teju Babyface Show’ – he has also put critics in their place not only by making the most of his divinely inspired flash of genius, but also by changing the standards in Nigerian TV shows. In this revealing interview with Isaac Oladipupo, the witty comedian opens up on his show, love life, women, and his plans to settle down ‘sooner than you think’. Do have fun..!
Without any attempt of flattery, you’ve practically reinvented the quality of comedy shows in Nigeria. What inspired the ‘Teju Babyface Show’?
It was simply the next level for me. I’ve spent years building a brand as a comedian, after a while I knew I had to diversify, walk into other territories and make my mark. I prayed about it, talked to God and the people who inspire me, and the show was born, out of the zeal to create my own number one spot in life. Something God tells everyone to achieve.
Who and what contributed to its conceptualization and development…
Ayo Olasoju of Tavia Technology was the first person to nudge me in that direction though I had over the years been a fan of many international award-winning comedy shows. I have tapes of Johnny Carson and Eddie Murphy. I enjoy David Letterman and Ellen Degeneres, so there’s a foundation I am coming from with the Teju Babyface Show. Like everything in life, it had to be nurtured first in my head, in my spirit, with God, with men, funds, ideas, and resources had to be in place. The show in a short time has evolved into something not only witty, but inspirational. Of course, my story is never complete without mentioning the influence of Sam Adeyemi, the senior pastor of Daystar Christian Centre. That guy na bros.
Why the name “Teju Babyface Show”?
It’s a brand; there’s no point changing a winning formula. We are building a structure that will house everything from the brand name.
What are you trying to achieve with the show?
It’s a family show. Something we miss having around here. We want to be like the neighbour who knocks at your door with a cup of tea in the morning, or a bowl of amala at night. Those kinds of qualities are lost with trends and civilization. It’s our way of making you giggle, laugh if you want, and just enjoy the simple pleasures of being alive and kicking.
I know how expensive running a show like yours could be, so where’s the funding coming from?
God uses men to validate visions and I was lucky and blessed to meet some of those people who were willing to invest in my dream. I will remain eternally grateful to Messers Fola Adeola, Tunji Ogunwusi, Muiz Banire and Tade Ogidan. It’s been a struggle but we are going to break the mold at some point, and start to smile to the bank.
How would you measure the impact of the show, and what has the feedback been like?
We host the best of Nigerian celebrities and icons. It’s amazing the people who have responded positively to the show. We have had an inspiring list – from 9ice to Kate Henshaw, to Dr. Sid and his father – Justus Esiri, legendary actor. To Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, Hon. Abike Dabiri Erewa, King Sunny Ade, The Deputy Governor of Lagos, Princess Sarah Sosan, Genevieve Nnaji, and so many others. The feedback has been awesome. If we had any doubts at all, the responses keep gearing us further.Teju Oyelakin then and now..!
We’ve had quite a number of comedy shows in Nigeria, what makes the Teju Babyface Show different from others?
It’s in the delivery. The package. We have a focus. We are going somewhere.
What other elements do you plan to add to this show, as time goes on?
I think all the elements are there, embellishing them comes as the show progresses. There are so many ideas dancing in my head. So many times, I am restricted by funds. But as we evolve all my ideas will find expression in the show, and the viewers will see just how eclectic the idea really is.
Would you say its been worth your while so far?
Of course, it’s my dream. I am happy to see it take flight. We have our challenges, the system that obtains in many TV stations is one that can turn you grey overnight, but we are not giving up, we are going to crack a solution. Just in case i sounded ambigous there, then let me say it quite clearly: the current model for running television business in Nigeria is WRONG!!! WRONG WRONG WRONG! It literally sucks the life out of the independent producer. (this is the part where I am supposed to appeal to the Government to do something about it but I will pass. No be evertin dem suppose dey tell person. Nuff said).
What are your major challenges running the show?
Erm…you mean apart from the one I just so blatantly referred to above? Well, again it’s the business environment around here. Every pioneer has to go the distance and then go some more. And then twice more. And then again. Sometimes we have a herd mentality. So you have a wonderful product and need sponsorship. So you pitch to 25 companies. Only 2 brand managers will catch the vision. The rest will not even smell it if you held it under their noses for a week. The remarkable thing however is that the moment the 2 who caught the vision do something about it and make a success of it, then everyone CAN’T WAIT to start the same thing. I think it’s a human failing and not a Nigerian one though. Perhaps I am culpable in some instances myself.Lagos State Firstlady, Abimbola Fashola on TBS
Where do you see the Teju Babyface Show in five years?
Bigger than even I can imagine. The dream is to own a TV structure like BBC, with a team that produces, directs, and airs world-class programming. Something bigger than Fox, bigger than CNN. That’s where I see myself. That’s what keeps the fire burning.
You are undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s finest comedians. What’s been responsible for your consistent success in the industry?
I could fill a whole book with that answer. In the end I will have to put it all in one word: GOD. (okay let me expatiate with a few more words). God will send you mentors. Listen to them.Comedian Julius Agwu on the TBS
Aside your show and comedy, what other businesses do you do?
I come as a well-equipped Compere for events. And at some point, I was channeling the funds from that end to sustain the Teju Babyface Show.
After the Diamond Ring, you’ve not been featuring in the movie scene again. What’s the reason for this, and have you any plan to commence acting again?
Not really. I am focusing on the Show. That’s my passion, my primary assignment.
Does the prospect of parenting scare you at all?
Absolutely! Everyday of the week and twice on Sunday! It scares the pants off my back!!!
So when exactly is Teju planning to walk down the aisle?
Sooner than you think!
Tell us about the lady in your life…
She’s pretty (personally I like to use the word ‘hot’, but her mom might read this!), and you’ll see her on our wedding day!
Describe your kind of lady in five words…
Loves me more than EVERYTHING!
Tell us about your weirdest experience with a lady.
Hehehehe.. Wouldn’t you love to know?(her mom is still reading remember? Probably called the dad too at this point)
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