Oghenekowhoyan Onaibe Desmond, known in entertainment circle as Destalker, is a stand-up comedian, compere and motivational speaker. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, the Warri, Delta State-born humour merchant, speaks on why comedians are fond of insulting people when performing and why he doesn’t have a mentor. Excerpts:
What informed your choice of career?
The Bible says that “the gift of a man makes a way for him.” I was born a comedian. It runs in my family. My dad is a comedian. He is the first Urhobo comedy film actor in Delta State. His name is Ewaraye Augustine, but he is popularly known as Ekwetakufia.
How did you come about the name Destalker?
I have answered several names like I Don Die when I was in school but coming to Lagos exposed me to branding. So, I decided to look for a suitable name that can be used in the corporate world. That was why I decided to go for Destalker. It was coined from Desmond + Talker (Destalker). And there is something about the name, that when you hear it, it sounds like a Chris Tulker. I’ve come to understand that names really play a major role in our life because since I started answering that name, I talk a lot of sense!
What were the challenges faced when you first started?
In life there are challenges. Challenges make life interesting. I started doing comedy in Enugu but not professionally. Coming down to Lagos was my biggest challenge. There was no accommodation, no friends and no colleagues. When I was much younger, I made up my mind that I was not going to work under anybody. I think that was where not having a mentor mentality originated from. I decided to build myself. It has not been easy but God saw me through. It was tough at first but after a while, I started getting invitations from colleagues. I thank God that all the challenges I faced then are all now in the past. I believe the name Destalker is now a brand to reckon with in the entertainment industry.
How have you been coping with competitions in the industry?
If there is no competition, it won’t be interesting. However, I am not in competition with anybody because I am on my own BRT lane.
What will you say distinguishes you from other comedians?
I talk about day-to-day activities. I do reality jokes; some comedians are tagged gospel comedians, some corporate comedians, some secular comedians, but I do all.
Some comedians have been accused of recycling jokes or even stealing other comedians’ jokes, what is your take on this?
On the issue of comedians recycling jokes, it has become so rampant that even we comedians now see it as a normal thing to do. However, it is not really all your jokes that could be recycled. For example, I do some life story jokes with motivational talks by the side. It might be very funny to you as a comedian but you can’t deliver it like I would because I am versatile.
What has been the most defining moment of your career so far?
The most defining moment of my career was when I travelled to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to anchor a wedding ceremony.
What will you say is the secret of your success as a comedian?
Giving and forgiving. I give gifts unconditionally and when you hurt me, I forgive without resentment. That is my secret because I have come to understand that our life is a gift from God and what we do with our life is our own gift back to God.
Why are comedians fond of insulting people when cracking jokes?
It depends on your definition of insult. We comedians don’t see it as insult, we call it slapstick comedy and most times, the audience attacks first. For example, someone in the audience will tell comedian; “comot joor you are not funny.” It can be very disheartening to a comedian on stage. So, he must try to redeem himself by retaliating. Creating a joke is not a joke. In every creative joke, there is an iota of truth. What we do is that we exaggerate the truth with humour which makes it a joke.
What is your philosophy of life?
Life is a joke. I also believe that life becomes how you see it. As I usually say, I joke for a living but I don’t joke with my living.
Can every funny person be a comedian?
Capital No. That is the more reason we have a lot of wannabes comedians in the industry. For example, when someone says something that is funny, his friends will tell him that “guy you funny die, why you no join these comedians.” The truth is that comedy is a different ball game. That is why some self-acclaimed comedians will crack five jokes but nobody will laugh. Meanwhile, it was the same thing he said at home that made his friends to encourage him to go into comedy. There is a book entitled: Talent is not enough by John Maxwell. Yes, talent can make someone succeed as a comedian but understanding the environment you find yourself, will usher you into a frustration-free life. In everything you do in life you need training. As for me, I do research and try to read books about everything.
What motivates you as a comedian?
Seeing people happy is my motivation.
What are the pains and gains of being a celebrity?
Like the saying, no pain, no gain. Being a celebrity is fun but there are little things you will be deprived of when you are a celebrity. One of them is eating in Mama Put (roadside restaurant). Also, when strolling on the street, fans expect you as a celebrity to give them money. Another pain is when you have issues with your car on the road, especially when you are in an area where you can’t find a cab and you now decided to board public transport, your fans will disturb you till you have no other choice but to drop at the wrong bus stop.
What is the relationship between you and other comedians?
I have a cordial relationship with them to the extent that when they miss my calls, they will return the call.
Have you had situations where people didn’t take you serious because you are a comedian, how do you handle such?
Not taking me serious is like an everyday thing and it is very painful, so, I have made people to believe that when I am speaking in English, I am very serious.
What is your marital status?
Since I am not married, I consider myself to be single but I am in serious relationship.
What are the qualities you want in a woman?
All I want from a woman should be the opposite of my strength. For example, I am an extrovert so I want an introvert. I am a very complicated person so I need a woman who is patient, understanding, slow to anger, forgiving and accommodating.
How do you handle advances from female admirers?
As for female admirers, most times, I don’t take note of them. I remember a day one of them told me that I am not sensitive. Making them your friends is better than trying to have an intimate relationship with them.
How do you handle negative publicity?
Most times, the best thing to do about negative publicity is to pretend you don’t notice it.
What is the most embarrassing thing a fan has ever done to you?
Just one and it happened in 2010 when one of my pastor’s daughters told me on his birthday that I should look for something better to do with my life.
I relax by playing snooker and PS with friends.
What is your fashion obsession?
I am so obsessed with fashion that I don’t wear one dress twice in a month.
What is your favourite car?
My favourite car is Toyota.
What about your favourite team?
I like playing soccer game like PS but I am not a football fan.
What advice do you have for young people out there?
Live life without any limit, because you will never know when your time will come. So, live, laugh and most importantly, be happy.