Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: The Quality of Comedy in Me Can Be Bottled, Sold - Bishop Umoh

interview

Ime Bishop Umoh is indeed one of the funniest men from Akwa Ibom state since 'Giringori' of 'New Masquerade'. Giringori whose real name was James Iroha of blessed memory wasn't even from Akwa Ibom state; making Bishop the funniest guy from that state and perhaps from Nigeria as a nation. Imeh Umoh, aka, Bishop derived his English name back in secondary school when he was asked to lead the assembly prayer.

He led both the students and teachers in an hour prayer until the microphone was forcefully taken from him. In this interview, he talks about his late father, how he discovered comedy in him, stand-up comedy in Nigeria and his plans in another ten years.

Enjoy!

Comedy; childhood and my discovery

Comedy must have been in me while I was growing up but I didn't know about it until I was already in school as a child. Meanwhile, when I noticed I had it, I took advantage of the gift and showcased my talents in churches especially when I am invited for plays.

I believe l am taking after my father who was indeed a funny person while he was alive. Although he was a lawyer by profession, he was also a comedian in every true sense of it because he was always making my mother and everyone in our home laugh.

As a child, I used to wonder what was so funny about my dad; why we were always laughing at what he said and how he said it. My dad use to say that his job was to make my mother to laugh. I am having a better understanding these days because people tend to laugh at me even when I am very serious.

My flight to limelight

I don't know oh, but I have always wanted to act; acting has always being my dream. It started like I said in my younger days in school and church, but I chose comedy this time because I noticed that l have a good sense of humour. What I discovered in me is better described as a commercial quality sense of humour.

In other words, it can be bottled and sold. I got discovered in the University by Emem Isong. After that, other producers started giving me calls all the way from Lagos but I didn't take these calls serious because I was still a student who needed to stay focus on school work.

Acting as a profession is a multi-tasking and time-consuming deal. When I got through with my degree program, I was invited to Lagos by Emem Isong. Other producers saw me and the rest is history.

Meanwhile, I attended University of Uyo; studied Philosophy, but I am speaking for a living today.

Two movies launched me into the spotlight. The first one is an indigenous movie titled 'Uyai' produced by Emem Isong in 2008 and an English movie, I cannot remember the title at the moment.

But after these two movies gave me the credibility l needed at that time; Emem Isong invited me to Lagos state again and other producers began giving me scripts and more jobs. People started giving me a second look. Obviously, those two movies were the miracles l needed and it came just in time.

At the moment; I have lost count of the movies I have featured in. I know that it's funny to say this because people who have been in the industry for donkey years can still remember the movies they have done, but I am sorry that I cannot remember. But I know l have done more than fifteen movies since I started.

Stand -up comedy; a genre of art

Stand-up comedy is another genre of art that I have full mastery of. It is my strongest point so to say. I do stand-up comedy once in a while, but l haven't found my feet as much as I have done in the movies.

I believe we are all blessed and gifted in different areas and I may not have found my feet like I have set out to do in stand-up comedy, but l am a stand-up comedian in my own right.

Life on the set with colleagues and fans

My colleagues; l mean actors like me are prepared for the comical part l take in whatsoever movie l am doing; hence it is something they are expecting from my character.

The people that usually cannot stand me or the character I have brought to life are people who saw my movies and are just meeting me for the first time. So, I get embarrassed everywhere l go to these days! Above all, I want to say that humour has a power of its own.

Saddest moment

My saddest moment was when I lost my father; I was only twelve years old when he died. I am from a polygamous home; my mum was the last wife of my dad and I am the first of four children. I had an amazing relationship with my dad, so it hurt when he passed on.

My future roles, if not comedy

Acting is not strictly speech delivery, it is not fluency; I speak English language fluently to an extent and my indigenous language Ibibio. But that is not the same thing as acting or entering a character.

I have always known myself to perfect everything l set my hands on. I have worked on my good sense of humour and it is paying me well. It is not a bad thing when a new act is launched with a certain brand; for instance, James Bond is considered a lover guy and Mr. Bean is seen as an extreme clown.

It only becomes unprofessional when the actor cannot try his hands in other roles. I think l would try my hands in other roles in the nearest future when I am popular enough.

My plans for the future

I wouldn't do shows in future because other comedians have done it and they have made names out of it.

I would do something because it is original to me and I enjoy doing it. I do not want to be seen as a second fiddle in all that I set my hands to do. My watch word in the game that l play is to be original; so in ten years, I should have gotten to the top of my game; God helping me.

I would be married, have my children and do other stuff that comes to me naturally. I would have done my own movies and all that. I have dreams of acting in the international scene with known world class faces; I wouldn't mind going to Hollywood and meeting with the stars.

My leisure and exercise

At the moment, my state has being transformed; it is indeed beautiful. So l go out and sometimes go to the cinemas to watch good movies without paying much. It is indeed amazing what has happened in the state!

There is a Hotel Tropicana, the cinema branch of it is ready and movies are going cheap. I work out because it is necessary and healthy; I have a mini gym in my house. So I don't play with those times spent in it.

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