My ‘madmen’ jokes shot me to limelight – Akpororo | Dailytrust

My ‘madmen’ jokes shot me to limelight – Akpororo

Weekend Magazine: How did you choose Akpororo as your stage name?
Bowoto Jephthah: One day I was raining abuses on a guy in church and I said to him: ‘You wey your head look like Akpororo’ [sic]. My bishop then looked at me and said ‘why don’t you change your name from Holy Son to Akpororo?’ That’s how the name became mine from that day onward.
WM: Was it Lagos that exposed you to comedy?
Jephthah: No, it was hunger. Hunger, hunger made me start comedy. You just need to find something to eat and do. I have been doing it for about four to five years now. My first pay was N1, 000; the guy paid N600 and has never paid the balance. I came to Lagos in 2009. And comedy was not anywhere on mind at the time to make a career of. I really didn’t have an ambition in entertainment at the time because all I wanted to do was stay in Warri. But my mum made me leave and go to Lagos to stay with her brother. It was in Lagos I started comedy. While in Warri, I loved to dance and sing. At any of my shows I always dance. That is what makes me complete and an all-round entertainer.   
WM: Beyond hunger, did you have a passion for comedy or was it something in the horizon you knew you would end up doing?
Jephthah: No, not at all. Akpororo; Singing is something I will always love to do … when I watch a movie and narrate it to my friends, a lot of them are surprised and admire how I give vivid descriptions of the movie. Even when they watch it, a lot of them still come back to me and say they preferred my narration over what they saw. That is how we started with teasing and ‘yabbing’ ourselves. In no time it grew into what it is now.
WM: What exactly is it you would say shot you to limelight?
Jephthah: I broke in with one joke which talks about a mad man who went to a church to give a special number. I shared this joke at the ‘Laugh and Jam’ organised by Basketmouth. It was a joke that just came about. In my church we have a programme we call, ‘E-mad men.’ We take care of mentally ill people. We don’t discriminate. But when you hear me talk about madmen, it is because I have studied them. When you hear me talk about pastors, it is because I am a church boy. Anything you hear me talk about, it is because I studied the subject; except those I consider freestyle and some which may just come on the spur of the moment. I stood out because there was nobody doing such a comedy. That is what made me stand out in the industry.  
WM: There are several jokes about madmen. What is it about yours that makes them unique?
Jephthah: For me, it is just jokes about men to catch fun. You see most mad men on the streets. These madmen have relatives and people who supposedly care about them. If you want to prove how true this is, just kill one of them and see how their people emanate from all over to fight on their behalf. The way I explain mine, you don’t need to pass through madness for you to understand what I am saying. When you are talking about madness, it is not that the people are mad in the real sense of the word. Sometimes, the situations and challenges they find themselves in prompt them to talk to themselves. I have never been there before; I am not a madman. But with what I have seen when God touches people, He heals madness.
WM: What do you intend for your jokes to achieve?
Jephthah: Just like the way I talk to youths and emphasise their doing the right thing and not being involved in doing the wrong job, or ‘yahoo, yahoo.’ Believe in yourself if you know you are doing the right thing. That is why I use myself as an example because everybody knew when I started and this is where I am today. If not God, it can’t be but God. I also advise on blood test for those who want to get married. Not just for HIV but people need to know their blood groups and types so that you know where you are going to. If you are SS no need for you to marry SS. You can’t give birth to a police because some of us will say, ‘God will do it.’ But God has given us the brain to reason so that we won’t trouble Him with some certain things. Most of my jokes when you hear me tell them, I always have such messages to pass on to my audiences. But I find the most interesting way to present them and a way which will help them remember fast and also spread the message. They may not realise they are doing so but when they chat with their friends about something I said they likely would have passed on an important message without knowing.
WM: Who has had the most influence on you?
Jephthah: There are three people in the comedy world who have really made a difference to me. They are Gordons, Gandoki and Akpororo (laughter).
WM: What was it that was self-motivating for you to succeed?
Jephthah: The reason I mentioned Gordons is for how much I love the way he talks, his attitude and performances. Gandoki is the most demonstrative comedian ever. So I picked from both of them and out it in Akpororo. So I am the third person and have my own story.
WM: You were talking about marriage a while ago and asking for your groom price to be paid…
Jephthah: No oh, I was joking. Please it was a joke. I don’t want a repeat of the Kano incident to befall me. Please, people hear, na joke oh! Before girls go come line up [sic].
WM: Who is Akpororo off stage?
Jephthah: Calm, romantic guy. I was born February 14, so you can imagine. On stage I no well [sic].  
WM: What do you consider your greatest attribute so far?
Jephthah: It is my career. It has opened so many doors for me that I never had imagined I would gain access to. Right now, because I am easily recognisable, I am able to access a lot of places effortlessly and also influential people.
WM: What is the most challenging part of being a comedian?
Jephthah: Payment is the most challenge a number of us encounter. Some clients need to up their game with regards what they pay us. Some of them use some form of blackmail, especially those who know us when we started. They keep referring us to those beginning days and how they were instrumental or encouraged us to forge on. But the thing is one has made a lot of efforts to improve and grow and the remuneration should also be the same.

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