Tunde Adewale a.k.a Tee A is one comedian that doesn’t blow his own trumpet or talk to the press like every other of his colleagues, the Unilag graduate of Yoruba Language is known for his humility and unassuming attitude. He spoke to Enquirer`s team about his moribund hang out, Time Out with Tee A and other controversies trailing the comedy industry, it is an interesting interview you`ll find informative.
I don’t know I think its people that will determine what probably stands me out
No, I mean your USP (unique selling point)
For me, I don’t believe in self appraisal but you know, people have different reasons for preferring me to handling their events or whatever.
How best can you describe yourself, your personality?
I’m just me I’m just easy going
So who is the Tee A on stage and the Tee A offstage?
Tee A is a comedian, he is someone who entertains for a living, he is a creative mind who expresses himself in various ways either through standup comedy, Television Production, Radio drama, whatever.
The Tee A offstage?
I’m actually a very shy person
As a star, have you actually been assaulted by any female fan?
Never! I don’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly, so it has never happened, thank you
Do you have personal experience from fans maybe you are coming from the Airport or anywhere and fans writing negative things on paper?
No, it’s completely the opposite, people scream, people hug, and always like taking photographs with me.
Are you cooking up anything new?
Basically we have a couple of things actually that we are working on, am thinking on a strategy section where brainstorm on the ideas, we will decide which one go first, but there are a couple of things in the pipeline completely new.
So what really happened to your popular joint on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Tee A`s because we learnt neighbours complained and the place has since been locked?
It’s one of those things in life you know, not really much of that, it was much of space issues and then you know, I just decided to take a break from that, I have taken a one year break, this will now be the second year I’m not sure if we will not come back before the end of the year but, there are couple of things in the pipeline that I usually don’t like talking about.
What have you missed about that place because a lot of people liked that hangout, I have been there like twice at least it was fun filled with influx of notable comedians, celebrities and the rest?
What I missed most about it is the customers, you know, interactions with everyday people who just want to hang out, they are not celebrities and they are not entertainers.
So what have you been telling them when they ask you?
We short down you know, we had closing party for all our client (laughs) on the 26th of December, we had a closing party in 2011 before we shot down, so everybody was aware that we are closing down and moving out of that location.
Will it be right to say it`s coincidental, there is a place called Tee A whatever around Omole and we heard some impersonation has been going on, for the first time would you like to clear the air on that, do have you any relationship with the person?
Absolutely nothing, I’ve never even been there, I don’t know the person.
But you heard the place exist?
I’ve heard, people have told me, “go and do this, go and do that” but like I said I’m just a gentle soul, I like my peace, so I mean, let the person run his business.
How is the Comedy Industry fairing to you, where are we supposed to be, what is happening, what do you think we need to put in place to make it a better?
Like what I always say to people, it`s the same thing I’m doing, which is letting people know that there is so much more to comedy than just doing standup comedy, there is a lot of other aspect of comedy that you can actually exploit, you can exploit TV, you can exploit Radio, you can exploit stage, some have exploited music, drama, sitcoms, comedy is big and that’s the mistake we make here, everybody thinks you just have to be a standup comedian, so that’s one of the things that I’m going to be doing again, doing something new along the lines of comedy as well. Something completely new and let people realize that you can be in comedy and still diversify round comedy.
If you take a look at the industry, it seems comedians are now everywhere repeating same old jokes, what do you want to say about that?
I mentioned that earlier you know, standup comedy is just one aspect of comedy you know, but when everybody feels that’s the only way and only avenue to go, that’s when you begin to have regurgitation and saturation of comedy you know, funny enough some materials belong genuinely to some people and some materials are just there that you don’t even know who owns what you know, so I think repeating joke itself is not a problem but, taking someone else’s jokes repeating it, spoiling it and not even giving credit is what is bad you know, I mean someone takes time to craft and create a very good material, you just because you watched the person performed on TV or Night of a Thousand Laugh, Rhythm on Plug or any of the shows, you go and you now start repeating the jokes and completely mess up the jokes, is what hurt the creator of the joke most, it`s not even the fact that you`ve taken the joke really but like in every swell of life, water will always find its level, if you are a comedian that is worth your salt, no amount of your material that are stolen or that has been stolen will affect you because even if they do it, they cannot do it the way you will do it and from the fountain that material came, more will definitely come and most importantly you know, people know, the audience know, they take note, so don’t be surprised that those comedians that you see that recycle other people’s jokes here and there, they are usually the ones that never last you know, so originality will last, creativity will last and diligent will last.
There`s no gain saying that, you are a powerful dresser, what inspires your mode of dressing?
I don’t know about power dressing o (laughs), I just like to be comfortable.
Who`s Your clothier?
No, I don`t have any, I’m one of those random collectors, I collect anything from anybody anywhere, I can be driving pass the market and see something I like, I can pick it, I can walk on the high street store in Paris, London or anywhere if I see something I like, I buy it and I can mix and match anything from the cheapest boutique as long as I’m comfortable with it.
Which of your recent shows would you say is the peak for you as a comedian?
I think the concept we had on last year, 1st of December, 2012 the Time Out with Tee A live concept which D Banj as the special guest artiste, I really got a lot of good reviews from everybody present and it’s a special edition which has been aired on TVs.
Is it selling?
No, it’s only on TV; I think either Valentine or Easter period, it’s a TV special so the feedback from that has been awesome from people who came you know, so that was a major high point for me, of course the TV show we recorded 2 seasons last year as well, so those were high point.
The lowest point
The lowest points were when we have to run the programme on Television stations and paid them for airtime and we never got advert.
How were you able to manage that?
We just kept on doing it and right now some brands are beginning to give us a look.
Looking at most of the comedians when they go on stage, most of them make joke with their past, how they`ve once suffered, I want to really ask you because you talk every time that your godfather is somebody that brought you to where you are, how many people have you also helped to get to the limelight? Secondly do you see comedy as a thriving career for poverty stricken people?
First and foremost, Ali Baba is not just like a godfather to me, he is a very good man and brother, we are very close, we have a unique kind of relationship which probably supersede that of every other person because I was probably the first person to live with him, struggled together when the industry was not anything, when we were all just comedians on one bound of your hand. So for me at least he is someone close to my heart so our relationship transient that of colleagues, so I would want to relate it on that and that’s the kind of mentality that we have.
Do you have people who look up to you like that?
If you see people that are up coming and they are good, you also help them, give them some guardians
Can you mention 1 or 2 names of people that have pass through you?
I’m not in that habit, you know, vain glorifying oneself.
Would you say comedy is an escape route from poverty?
Talent generally is an escape route not only comedy, I mean, there is music, there is movies, there is acting.
Most of your colleagues do acting, why have you not done it?
It is one step at a time, funny enough we started out really from acting (from stage acting) that for me is proper acting you know, we started from the stage myself and a couple other comedians, and if the opportunity comes obviously if I’m interested in a project I would take it on but for now my focus is on expending the front yard of comedy.
Then why is it that before they count 1 or 2, 3 comedians in Nigeria who stand for proper show like wedding, Tee A will come, he is among the top ten, what have you done to put yourself in that field?
I enjoy hosting events, I enjoy controlling the crowd, I enjoy holding the attention of people and over the years I’ve done so much of it, it has become part and parcel of me, weddings in particular I enjoy and I will not do a wedding that the people do not want to have fun. It’s all about fun, for me it’s about making the event memorable.
How do you handle the crowd base of a very big wedding, you have to face the paparazzi, please shift, please do this, this is not a show you know?
It is part of the work, once you`ve done it over and over again, you get used to it and some of the so called paparazzi, even the caterers, waiters they all know you and it becomes much easier controlling them, it becomes easier to making sure that 5 thousand people are having fun you know, that’s the joy of anchoring those events when you know that even the last person in the hall is listening to you, that’s just bank.
How`s your wife coping because you are hardly at home and why are you not wearing your wedding ring?
I actually forgot it with my wrist watch; you can see I forgot (laughs), and I think she is coping with the grace of God.
How do you compensate her?
Once I’m not working I’m at home, I rarely hangout, I don’t go clubbing except on invitation or I’m invited to a particular function or something but once I’m not working, I’m at home.
Finally who is the King of Comedy and what click are you?
Is there any click? I don’t know of any click and I do not belong to any click.
Who is the King of Comedy, who should we give it to?
Obviously when you are saying King of Comedy, the only person that comes straight to your mind is Ali Baba.
But some people are claiming that name, that title?
Okay who between BasketMouth and Ali Baba?
But don’t get it wrong, BasketMouth does a show that he calls the African Kings of Comedy, because I had him on my show and he himself explained it that it’s just a title for the show, it’s not like a reflection of any particular whatever.
So who is the King?
As much as we all call Ali Baba the King of Comedy, you know, Ali Baba himself calls other people kings of Comedy you know, so It’s difficult for you to say one person is king or these people are kings, for me everybody can as well be king in their own territory.
But who should be called the first son of comedy?
I think you give honour to whom it is due, Ali Baba played the trail for all of us, so he deserves that respect not worthy of being shared by anybody you know, he created the industry more like out of nothing, so if for nothing else and he is still relevant even to date, he is still working and still performing and he still investing in the business so if for nothing else, Ali deserves all the respect, all the iconic, all the celebrations and all the recognition even if he doesn’t want to admit it.
It`s been nice chatting with you
Thank you very much