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I pioneered standup comedy in Nigeria – Sotimirin

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Olatunji Sotimirin, an actor, play director, dancer, story teller, broadcaster and a lecturer in the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, in this interview with TONY OKUYEME, talks about his brand of music, standup comedy, acting, teaching and other issues in the industry

 

You seem to have taken a break from music. Is that the case?

My musical career is still very much on, as much as I have other areas of my art – acting, dancing, play directing and storytelling. I am a lecturer in the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, and that is something which can be described as a staple activity, something that is constant.

All other ones are there to complement my teaching. But when I am out of the classroom, I am there performing on stage as an actor, directing a play and so on.

I mean, it is all intertwined, because, luckily for me, I am not teaching engineering or law, I am teaching Theatre Art, which has something to do with what I have a talent to express.

You are arguably one of the pioneers of standup comedy in Nigeria. What happened?

God bless you for that question. I am actually publishing my book to inform and to set the record straight about stand-up comedy in Nigeria. In fact, I am publishing two books; one on my solo performances – Molue, Gboromiro, Ojoro Council, Mofoobale, Tribute to Gani, about seven of them in that collection. It would be dated.

What really are you talking about?

Yes, correcting impressions, opinion about solo comedy in Nigeria; as I said, set the record straight. What I mean is that certain people do not have the idea of the fact that I have been into comedy.

And they get it so wrong that some people who didn’t know about comedy, are said to have started comedy. But with my book, the records will be made clear, with dates, pictures, information that you can check, and that way the records are made clear to public.

What inspired you to go into stand-up comedy, and why did you stop?

I didn’t really stop, but as I said, my teaching activity has taken over quite a number of things that I do. But I still do it. For instance, I was in the United Kingdom (UK), when I was researching I did my solo performances at some fora where we had competitions organized by the British Council and quite a number of organisations. So I still do solo comedy performances; it is just that it may not be that pronounced like I used to.

But that is what I want to revisit, and inform this generation – the youth – that I have been part of it, I started solo performances, so that they are properly and sufficiently informed about it.

I started experimenting with solo performance in the year 1987, when Ideas Communication was launching its organisation as an advertising company, with Tunde Fagbenle, Segun Odegbami and others. And I started to develop it, under the supervision of a journalist Supo Owodunni, who was working with Vanguard newspaper. He was marveled at the kind of act that I was doing; and he kept coming to the University of Lagos to see my rehearsals.

And I experimented with that, at Bode Osanyin’s Writers Resort, Otta, Ogun State, I show- Sotimirin cased it. I performed at Steve Rhodes Voices annual concert, and the late John Chukwu came to the hall and sprayed me money back stage. He said he had never seen that sort of thing before.

That was it, and it was eventually sponsored by the Goethe Institute to be done as a full scale performance at the University of Lagos and at the University of Ibadan. And I had also created a lot of other performances like ‘Ojoro Council’, which talked about the political situation in Nigeria. So, quite a number of solo performances are there.

Why have you not gone back to explore it further, especially now that it is a moneyspinning business?

Yes, it is a money spinning business now, but I cannot join the bandwagon in the manner in which it is practiced now, otherwise it would appear as if I am competing with them.

I am coming up with this publication, and craft my performances in a way that would be staged properly a stage show. Not the noise type that invites you to come and see some musicians.

It is going to be mainly on solo performance which will for about one hour or more on stage; and people would come and see real solo performance. It is targeted at emphasizing solo performance as an art form, rather than inviting musicians like they do now. As I said, that will be revisited in a couple of months this year.

Any regrets abandoning standup comedy act?

Comedy is a part of me, whether I follow it up professionally or not, it doesn’t matter to me. Even in my family, I make them happy; in my class, when I stand in front of students, they know; they are happy. So, I have no regret whatsoever.

What is your relationship with Ali Baba?

Ali Baba is a brother, a younger colleague. We are cordial in our relationship. The only problem I have is that most of the comedians don’t invite me to their shows. I don’t know what the issue is. I have extended invitation cards to them but they don’t attend, and I feel very disappointed.

Who are the people that you have extended invitation cards to…

I don’t want to mention names, but a few them do.

What happened to Konkere fuji?

Like I said, it is still my teaching job, you have to attend seminars, workshops, conferences and things like. But like I said, now, more than ever before, I am revisiting all of these.

After publishing these books, I need to even start to do more of live performances of my musical act and factor in the youths, because it is important to carry them along, in terms of dance and lyrical content; lyrical content that will also help to nurture the minds of our youths.

It is important for us as artists to take the lead in terms of not just creating an identity for ourselves but also to shaping the society with whatever compositions that we churn out. So, I am working on this.

Would you consider yourself a romantic person?

I teach a lot of morals and principles in my plays, songs, poetry, storytelling, comedy and so on. For romance, I must say that the way we do romance here, sometimes it can be very offensive.

I want to say also that people have their own strong point. Being romantic or doing romance in terms of composing songs, stories to project that may not be my forte; I do it, maybe not on stage, nut off stage. So, I am romantic.

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Body & Soul

Red carpet slayers

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There are ladies who always come to the red carpet of every event they attend with their A-game on when it comes to fashion and style. They’re simply red carpet slayers; they want to be sure all fashion radars pick them out from the rest of the crowd on account of their ensembles.

Whenever they step on the red carpet, there is something unique that keeps you drooling; could be hair, makeup, dress, shoes or even the accessories they put on. They always come slaying anytime they appear in public. Overtime, their fashion sense has become widely acknowledged as they have lots of fans on their social media handles that follow them just to see their latest styles.

There’s always something ‘extra’ about their outfit. Sometimes, it can come off as outrageous but somehow, they still manage to pull it off with their personality and uniqueness.

These red carpet slayers always come out in all shades of fabulous; matching their outfits with gorgeous accessories and hairdo that take your breath away.

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Body & Soul

Get royal looks in fascinators

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The royal wedding between Prince Harry and Megan Markle has still got people talking one week later. Apart from how beautiful the couple looked on their special day, the talk of the day was the outfits’ guest wore to this auspicious event.

It wouldn’t be a royal wedding without some jaw-dropping outfits and statement fascinators! The unique thing about fascinators as a style accessory is the different designs that suit different personal styles.

The right kind of makeup, structured outfit, classy shoes and fashion-forward fascinators gives you the perfect wedding-guest look.

While some ladies opt for the really big and detailed fascinators, some others prefer theirs small and simple. The important thing is to make sure your makeup compliments your fascinator to bring out the beauty of your face.

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Body & Soul

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The graduate of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos and special executive master’s certificate in Leadership and Management from the Metropolitan School of Business and Management, United Kingdom is the last of 10 children. She stuns us every time she steps out and even when she is just relaxing on the beach. Her figure plays a huge part in how gorgeous she looks as well her glowing complexion. No wonder she is the Ivory Soap ambassador and model. Here she dazzles in a red lace number inspired by the 50s era.

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