Otolorin Kehinde is a fast rising comedian popularly known as Kenny Black. In this interview with ARAMIDE SHANU, he talks about his struggle to stardom, among other things.
The journey so far
I am Otolorin Kehinde Peter, the funny and hilarious guy popularly known as Kenny Black. My journey started in August 9, 2008, that was when I got on stage for the first time. Somebody had told me that, “Kehinde, why can’t you start doing stand up comedy?”. At that time, I had no answers but I started to watch people do it. Later, I was invited to do a rally called ‘Miss Ejigbo’ in Lagos and after the rally they called me again that they were having a comedy concert and they want me to perform. I had never been on stage performing as a comedian but I had been on stage acting and singing, so I said no problem because everything starts one day.
That day, I went on stage without a stage name but the organisers insisted on one for me so I told them that I didn’t want a name that would be far from my real name, a name that people could easily interpret. So, I looked at my facial appearance and saw how dark my skin was so I decided to choose Kenny, the short form of Kehinde and my complexion, black. That was how Kenny black became my stage name. The first wedding I was invited to as a comedian was in 2009 and I was paid N800. To me, at that time, it was a lot of money because I had not been paid that kind of money.
You sing also…
I have a music band and we do music/comedy together because my jokes involve music.
What are the most embarrassing thing a fan has ever done to/for you?
One tried to kiss me in front of everybody; I went for a show in one of our institutions but for security purposes, I will not mention the name of the school. A fan came to me and said, “Oh Kenny Black!”. Before I knew it, she started hugging me, trying to kiss me. I tried to calm her down and had no other choice than to leave the place before she tried any other thing. After then, I said to myself, “Kenny, I don blow”.
What are your messages through comedy?
I try to preach the fact that one is not too young to be who one wants to be. You are not too young to create a brand. I see a lot of my friends taking alcohol, smoking from morning till night but they need to wait to get to a certain age for them to be who they want to be. When I started my career it was a challenge to them. So, I believe you don’t have to do illicit business before you can be successful in life.
What are your challenges?
My size, and the fact that I’m young. When I started, people would look at me and think, “this boy thinks its child’s play, how come a boy of this stature and age wants to crack jokes”. My stature was very challenging for me but I do tell people not to judge books by their cover.
What is your relationship with other comedians?
My relationship with other comedians is something I didn’t expect. I couldn’t believe that they would appreciate me, I’m getting love from all the comedians unlike before when they didn’t know what I could do. I am like the favorite comedian now especially from the music artistes because I use their songs in my jokes. They would be like Kenny Black, you are making our songs popular.
How are you now coping with the competition?
It’s not been easy but I’m making sure I don’t compete with anybody. All I need to do is to rehearse more and focus on my craft, if competition comes you face it.
Most memorable events?
There are two memorable events for me; I was at an event where I was not supposed to perform and I had just gone there to enjoy myself. All of a sudden, the sound went off and nobody wanted to go up stage without a microphone. So after a while, I met the event planner to find out what the problem was. Discovering that the sound would be out for a while, I went on stage acting like Mr Bean, the mounted the drum set beat it to get attention. Then I signaled to the event planner and he said I could continue and before I realised what was going on, I had spent more than 45 minutes on stage without a microphone. Around me, people were laughing and that is very risky because if I wasn’t funny at that point, people would be disappointed and so, I was able to save that show without a microphone. Imagine nobody on stage for 45 minutes! The audience would have left and you know how big the Muson Centre is. I was able to arrest everybody’s attention and I got a standing ovation from everybody in that hall. The second one was an event where there were only three slots for comedians and the program was almost ending. Most of the audience wanted music and dance but the organisers called Senator and me without anybody introducing me or lights coming on. Immediately I got on stage, everybody started shouting ‘Kenny Black’. It was an amazing moment for me.
Asides being a comedian, what else are you engaged in?
Yes, I have something I’m working on, it is something out of entertainment but I want to keep my fingers crossed because I like surprising people.