AY May Not Be Giving Me Events But Am Not Complaining- Benji D’ Joke

Fast rising gospel comedian, Benjamin Onwume popularly known as Benji D’ joke is one jester whose originality and comical delivery has carved him a niche for himself in the competitive industry. After being in the industry for 7 years following his phenomenal performance in the AY open mic talent show in 2010 which he won, there has since been no turning back for him.

In a recent chat with Judith Frank-Edet of daily times Nigeria, Benji opens up on his sojourn in the comedy industry, challenges, love life and much more.

After your show In December not much has been heard of you, what are you up to?

First of all I want to talk a little bit about my show; ‘laugh for change season 4’ The 3rd edition had Alibaba, Dauda, MC Shakara, Emeka Smith African china while the 4th edition of my show was supposed to have Bash , D Don, Omobaba, Elenu, Sheyi Law and a host of others but they couldn’t make It due to traffic. It was a successful show and the turnout was massive. For now, the editing of the show is ongoing and I have the master copy of which I will use to start my TV program. Also, my audio CD called ‘The Gospel Like’ is coming out soon. It is a gospel commentary that would be out by April. Those are the works cooking now and we will start our skits which will be uploaded on YouTube. There are about 5 of them of which people can access and watch it. I have some audio ring-back tunes which was signed by mtn. Right now we are waiting for the election to be over. We want a peaceful free and fair election because so many companies are depending on it.

How did you get MTN to co-sponsor you Show?

Yes MTN was part of my show last year and they supported me of which I am really grateful for. I happen to know one of their staff of whom I dropped my show proposal with. They saw it and liked it. I submitted copies of the shows I have done and I was surprised when they called me and said that they were interested and would love to see how the show would be.

How is your relationship with AY

AY has done a lot for comedians. I am the only comedian that won the ‘AY Open Mic Talent Show’; we are about 13 who won it. After then he was like a mentor to me plus if you need any advice the door is wide open for you, he counsels me anytime i call him for anything.

As it is, I am a brand that is growing and he supports me anytime I call him for anything. He was supposed to me on my show last time but he had another show at Abuja but the next show I am going to be having this year he is going to be part of the show. He is always there. He is a man that is very free and welcoming. So the relationship is still on.

I Hear There Is a Feud between The Two Of You Because He Doesn’t Promote You Like He Promotes Other Comedians ?

Well I don’t know. I believe he is a man who knows what to do at any given time. He may not be giving me events but it’s not that am complaining about it. He may not give me events like he gives other comedians ….

(cuts in) Like pencil?

Yes like pencil

Are you jealous of Pencil?

Lai Lai! I am not jealous at all. I am someone who believes in God and I believe in doing my thing. He is doing well for himself and I am doing well for myself. He cannot help everybody the way he helps Pencil and other artiste.

To be honest with you, the way God is dealing with me I like it more because I have met some important people in this country. Someone like the special adviser to the president on Niger Delta affairs is someone very close to me. MDs of Mobil and Brain Field are people I can pick up my phone and ask the chairman how far, wetin dey. God has a way of doing things. He may be looking at things this way but in the eyes of people they will be like what is happening now, why is this person not carrying this person along or why is this person not doing this. It will be a major talk but I so much thank God for the way he is playing my cards.

Do you see yourselves as competitors?

Well everybody is different. Someone like me when I see you are doing well it is like a challenge to me that there is something I am not doing that I have to do. Comedy is not something I wanted to do, God asked me to do it. There was a time I almost quit comedy but one women just encouraged me and told me not to give up. When I see that you are doing well it’s a boost, it’s like a door opening for me to work hard. It is only those that feel intimidated that feel jealous. God that gave talent is not selfish. Looks at the like s of Terry G, Duncan mighty, Faze. As at 2011 they were everywhere in shows but today what is happening? It is because of what they (the artistes) were doing then; the others (the current raving artistes) saw their reign as a challenge and worked on it. That’s how it is. That you shine today doesn’t mean another person would not shine tomorrow. If you are not doing something, do something you go blow (he laughs)

What is your take on comedians using other people’s jokes without crediting them?

Yes, I a victim of such. About two of my jokes have been stolen from comedians.

Are you also a perpetuator?

Lai Lai! You can ask any comedian. I am very proud of that. I am very bold and I can say it at any day and any time that I am one of the comedians that work. When I mean work I mean create jokes. Even the ones that are beefing would tell you that Benji is a comedian you can talk of anytime, any day, he comes out with his jokes. Alibaba knows, Bovi knows, Koffi knows. I can call more names of comedians who can vouch for this.

I was a victim of copyright. There was one of my popular jokes about police, that joke is now everywhere on social media. It is my joke and comedians know that the joke belongs to me. I did one joke far back when i started open mic about a machine that catches thieves but when it arrived Nigeria thieves stole the machine, It was my joke and it is now everywhere. It is not that I am trying to be boastful or praise myself but when it comes to originality, it’s a gift God has given to me. Comedians want to hear me because they know that every time, this guy would say something new. Like my senior colleague, Alibaba, would say; “keep working, not because they are stealing your jokes you will stop working”. It does not intimidate me, It shows that i am better off than those who do the stealing. If they like they have a platform to deliver the joke but both heaven and earth know that I am the originator of the joke.

Lots of comedians have diversified into other business, what about you?

Like I said, I am planning a program on TV which would be dripping very soon.

What Challenges do you face as a budding comedian?

Stealing of jokes is one of the major challenges. There are people that have better platforms than you so if they have the opportunity to use such platforms; it looks like it’s their joke. It’s a challenge many comedians are facing now. I went for a show and another comedian was saying my joke. People were now tapping me and saying; ‘o boy na ur joke be this oh, you no go do something’. The person thought I was not around. If there is a way fans can help control this by screaming out loud when a comedian cracks a joke that is not his, such comedians who don’t have original jokes will fear.

What is your most embarrassing day?

I had an event in Ikoyi and I forgot the date and saved it with a wrong one. I then got a call from the event manager asking me if I was around because the show was to kick start in an hour. I just told her i was nearby. I then checked my diary and I realized that I saved it on a wrong month. I rushed to take a shower and dress up. At that time, motorcycles were not banned and i didn’t have a car then. so I went on a motorcycle and while on my way, I realized I was wearing palms. I didn’t know what to do because I was already close to the 3rd mainland bridge. I then had to call a friend to help me get my shoes from home. When I got to the event, the event planner told me that the birthday would be starting soon and I was supposed to anchor the show not just to do comedy. Just when It was about to start, my friend brought my shoes and that was what saved the day. So I can’t imagine how it would have been if he didn’t bring the shoes at the nick of time.

I presume you are single?


Are you in a relationship?

That’s my private life

You Don’t Have To Mention Her Name

Ermmm Ok, let’s say yes.

Is It That You Are Not Sure?

The kind of relationship I should be in is the one that would produce a ring. The door is still opened so if anybody is interested and you know your good you are free to apply. I don’t want to be confused because confusion is coming already.

So You Will Walk Down the Aisle This Year If You Find the Right Lady

I don’t want to waste time. If you know that you are a good person, someone that know what family means and the importance of marriage, everything is ready. So I am not saying I need money or a houses. It’s just the right person and I don’t believe in divorce. No one in my family has divorced and I don’t want to start it in my family just because I am an entertainer.

Who Is Your Dream Lady?

A woman that understands the value of marriage.

You Mean There Is No Physical Attribute You Admire?

She must look good. I would prefer someone taller than me but if not, fine. God knows how to do it because I have seen families where the parents are slim and the children are like elephants- fat and bigger than their age. So if you base it on the physical alone, you will be making a big mistake. I have seen many beautiful girls that are really interested. One of the girls I dated was really beautiful but I got tired of the beauty. She discovered that she made a mistake and she wanted to come back but it was too late because I was not in love with her anymore.

How Much Do You Charge For A Show?

N500,000 outside Lagos, N350,000 within Lagos.

Apparently There Are Cliques Or Factions In The Industry, Which Faction Do You Belong To?

I don’t belong to any faction.

About the author

Ihesiulo Grace

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