Gbadewonuola Olateju Oyelakin (aka Teju Babyface), made his publishing debut recently with the launch of a book titled, ‘Secrets of the Street’. The TV host of the Teju Babyface Show and motivational speaker in this interview with Saturday Telegraph speaks on why he had to leave stand-up comedy among other sundry issues. Excerpts…
Why exactly did you quit stand-up comedy, an aspect of showbiz that brought you fame?
It was always a struggle to be a comedian. You may not have seen the struggle but every time I got on stage, it was a constant struggle. I had to prove myself to the audience constantly at every performance. It was a constant struggle and there are times I had been called on stage and the applause at the best of time would be polite, while at the worst of times, it may not exist.
If you think about it, I really did not look like a comedian. It was as if the audience did not believe I could make them laugh, so I always had to prove myself. There was a time that it did not matter because I really enjoyed doing it. But after a certain time your inner man would call out to you and things like discontent would start to set in.
You seem to have given up stand-up comedy when the ovation was the loudest, how did that feel?
So, once I told my father and my family that I wasn’t going to go in the way they want me to go but to entertainment, it meant that I was called to be to be number one in whatever area I was going into. And I wasn’t going to be number one in stand-up comedy, I decided to look for answers and once I was clear it was TV, I threw everything I had into it.
What was even going to happen? I was going to fail? Well, thank God we didn’t. And once it was clear again that we’re going to go in the direction of books, writing and speaking, I threw everything I had into it. You cannot live your life in fear.
The funny thing about it is whether or not you take a chance on yourself, sooner or later, what you fear will happen. If you refuse to take the chance on your own when life prompts you and you stay in your comfort zone because you’re afraid, sooner or later, life is going to render you irrelevant by itself.
With the obvious never-say-die spirit you possess, how come you just accepted the thought of quitting stand-up comedy just like that?
This is where mentorship comes in. I spend a lot of my life listening to mentors, on CDs, tapes, radios and TVs. What the ministry of Pastor Sam Adeyemi, I mean what God has used that man to do for me is unquantifiable.
There’s a time in a man’s life when you begin to ask yourself honestly, why should I waste my time in an area I’m not called to? I know that I can put the same amount of effort in another area I’m called to and that amount of efforts will catapult me to number one. You must come to that point.
I came to it in comedy where I knew that rather than hit my head against this comedy wall, if I put the efforts I put in comedy into this new area I suspect that I should go into, I would have greater result. This is how John C. Maxwell puts it; he said most people are like people with five coins in their hands, four of those coins are gold, and one is copper. What most people do is abandon the gold and start shining the copper, hoping to turn it to gold.
Instead of them to drop the copper and focus on the gold coins and start shining it so that it can come out in the brightest of its form. That was exactly how it was, I could continue to be a stand-up comedian, but I suspected that there were other areas I needed to apply myself to with the same amount of efforts and come out far ahead.
But you could as well think that Basketmouth with whom you started out is already of one the best in Africa today. Weren’t you bothered about how your wife, fans, friends and acquaintances will feel? You’re asking a 38-year-old man this question as if we have come to the end of our lives. I am 38 years, do you know where I’ll be when I’m 52?
You don’t know that and you can’t make that call yet, I’m still young. I mean for somebody who wants to live up to 90 years, I’ve not even lived half of my life. So, ask me this question again when y o u attend my 50th birthday.
You made some remarks at your book launch that made one suspect you were rebellious…
I wasn’t rebellious but you know you have to find your way. Check with all great achievers, you’d always have to mostly exhibit itself in form of rebellion. What do you say to Bill Gates that dropped out of one of the most prestigious colleges in the world?
But what really motivated you to write the book ‘Secrets of the Street’?
I did not set out to write a book, but I believed some years ago that I was mean’t to speak to people, to become a motivational speaker. I found out that I was writing a lot of thing that I intended to speak about but the challenge was that nobody was calling me to speak.
It was a challenge to find somewhere to speak and the places I wrote to always felt that I am a comedian so what do I know about public speaking. After putting all the materials in my computer for a while my friend suggested that I should write a book.
I laughed at him at first but since he said I w o u l d b e c o m e an authority if I write a book. After thinking about it for a while it made sense to me. When I was launching the book, I found peace in my heart. Someone asked me if I had made the money I intended to make and I told them that they do not have an idea.
I did not run into debt trying to do it but it is not about money anymore. There is a joy I feel being an author and I feel like a man who had finally found himself. A few people who saw me during the book launch said it in different ways that I have finally got into my place through writing and speaking.
Source: New Telegraph