interviewBy Opeoluwani Ogunjimi
With arms confidently placed on his desk, right inside his Surulere office, popular Comedian, Julius Agwu, who is one of the most successful comic acts in the country, recounts his life, forty years down the line. He also spoke about his plan to celebrate his fortieth birthday, his book, new single, new TV show and family. Excerpts:
This is a new year, what have you been up to?
This is a new year, 2013. For me, it's two thousand and re-starting because this year, I'm going to be forty and it's a new start for me. I was talking with the Deputy Governor of Cross River State and he said; forty is the old age of youth and it's also the youth of old age.
We got talking about my fortieth and he was advising me and told me it's worth celebrating. I was also speaking with Alex Oti, the Group Director of Diamond Bank and he said; all the foolish things I do should end in March before my fortieth in April, because a fool at forty is a fool forever. This year also, I'm writing a book about my journey so far.
What's the title of the book?
I don't want to reveal the title for now for fear of Nollywood so they won't name a movie after it. But we are working on it and it's being edited by Tony Kan. The whole idea of it is that this is a fresh beginning for me and I call it 20-restarting, a year I want to re- strategize and re-position. As a matter of fact, I'm doing a song now and it's titled Rejuvenate. So I want to rejuvenate the brand and myself.
So what are those things you used to do that you are going to stop doing @ 40?
Although I know them, I don't want to reveal them because they are personal things.
Are you planning to celebrate your fortieth?
Of course I plan celebrating it. I want to use that medium to appreciate those who have helped me this far- my friends, brothers and sisters and everybody, especially God. It's not that I'm rich but I'm wealthy. I have a wealth of experience.
So what are those things lined up for that day?
I already mentioned that my book will be launched, which is the major thing. And there will be other performances by friends and colleagues.
I'm sure you plan celebrating it big. So are there any persons or corporate groups supporting you?
Nobody is supporting me yet with anything and it's strictly by invitation.
So why did you decide to write a book?
Like I said, it's about my journey so far, where I'm coming from, challenges and obstacles and the wheel of progress; where I am today. Like it or not, we are not Lagosians. There are people who come to Lagos with nylon bags and go back with briefcases, and others come with briefcases and go back with nylon bags.
But God has been very very nice to me. My career is such that they say entertainers' life span is never long but the grace of God has brought me this far and I feel there's a cause for celebration. I also want to celebrate my fans. Co incidentally, my fortieth falls on a Sunday. So part of it is that we'll go to church in the morning, and then in the evening, we celebrate.
Aside that, I'll also be launching my new TV show titled Jokes Apart.
For how long has it been in the pipeline?
For five years now. And that's because TV production isn't easy, so we have to put in our best. Aside from that, it's something we want to concentrate on so we don't get distracted by other things.
What are the side attraction that Jokes Apart will bring to viewers?
Let them just look out for the show when it starts and later, they can now judge our performances. We know we may make our mistakes but we hope to get it right from the start. For it to have been in the pipeline for five years, reason is the fear of failure and this is my greatest fear. So I believe God to give me wisdom to make it a success.
So have you finished shooting?
We haven't but we've already set up a studio. So, we're waiting for the technical crew before we start shooting. It will unveil in April.
Are you going to have a live audience like Teju Babyface?
No, there won't be a live audience. It's studio based.
Do you have sponsors yet?
That's one of the major challenges we have. At the moment, there's no sponsor yet. But then we thank God that some of us have been able to sustain our brands.
What about the Abuja Festival Of Love?
Yes, it's something I started two years ago in Abuja. Over the year, I've always spent Valentine and my birthdays with the less privilege because I see it as my own corporate social responsibility. So last two years, 2011, I decided that I wanted to start something about showing love to people who lack love.
That was why I started it but it was when the bombing issue was the order of the day in Abuja. So we did the first edition in Abuja, the second was held in Lagos because of the unrest in Abuja. We actually got threats not to hold the event there and then, the Abuja people were too scared to gather.
So this year, I don't want to hold it in Lagos because there are so many events already holding here, that's why we are taking it back to Abuja. So for all our events, Aero Contractors has been very supportive, they are our official carrier, even on this event. So it's a classic event for lovers. There will be couple's games, karaoke games and part of the proceeds will be given back to charity.
Why is it that your shows don't always have sponsors?
Okay, for this particular one, Festival of Love, it's powered by OsmoServe Global, owned by a friend of mine called Scot Tommy, he just promised to do so but he hasn't given anything yet but I'm hoping he'll sponsor it. I'm also saying thank you to my colleagues who have decided to be part of it. I can't pay them what they are worth but then, I pay them. As a matter of fact, I started paying a token of appreciation to my colleagues right from when we started Crack Ya Ribs as far back of 2001.
For music, we have Wizkid, Bunner Boy and Chidnma. For comedy, we have Bovi, Apororo, Daniel, based in Port-Harcourt, Chugo, and others. There's going to be a red carpet by 5pm and then cocktail.
Being into entertainment isn't all about money but passion, and that's why I don't mind funding my shows alone. My joy is that what I do give me satisfaction.
Aside organizing your own shows, do you still accept invites to perform on other colleagues' shows?
Yes I do. I also encourage other up-comers to participate.
Like who and who are the up-comers you are supporting at the moment?
There are quite many. We have Daniel 'D' Humorous based in Port-Harcourt, Senator based in Jos, Fony Bone, Osama, all these people I've taken to London and America; they've been around the world courtesy of the platform I provide.
So how does it feel to be 40 because you don't look it?
Like I said, I was dancing Azonto and my wife said I shouldn't be dancing to such at my age. So I told her that even at 80, I'll still be dancing to songs in vogue. Age is a function of the mind.