An evening with Peteru, Ibadan's current king of comedy

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While no one can really say who the biggest musician or movie star in Ibadan is, there is no contention about the biggest comedian in the city. He is Peteru. Peradventure you don’t know him, check him out at ComedyHubWithPeteru this Sunday at the Filmhouse Cinema Dugbe from 4pm.

Alibaba described him as the future of comedy, LafUp ‘crowned’ him the new king of comedy in Ibadan. But if you are meeting him for the first time and he isn’t performing, you may think he is a small boy who is yet to figure out what to do with his life. But when you listen to him, you would be inspired about how collected, calm and confident he is about himself especially his future.

I planned to spend just 15 minutes with him but we ended up spending more than one hour at Phurlash bar at Heritage Mall. I laughed so much that I forgot to order drinks.

At first, he was reluctant to talk. Within me I asked whether he is naturally shy or just conscious when talking to the media. But when we started talking, he loosened up and I knew right away he is ready for the big stage.

He told me about his sojourn from dancing to comedy. He is naturally funny – ‘so is everyone’, you may say. He had that feeling too but he said those around him encouraged him to consider standup comedy.

“Sometimes I will say something that is ordinary and people will ask me to repeat what I just said on stage. From there I developed interest and we are where we are today,” he said with eyes fixed on his iPad as he scrolled down to check notifications on his Twitter page.

So I asked him what he sees in Ibadan considering the fact that some so-called Lagos comedians are not as funny as he is. His response revealed how realistic he is and how maturely he thinks.

“Hmmm my brother, the thing is not that easy o. Many comedians in Lagos are not as successful as I am in Ibadan. Even though you see them at big shows, many of them are just faking fame,” he told me.

He added he would prefer to be the king in Ibadan than an unpopular poor hustler in Lagos.

“These days, lots of companies are coming to Ibadan and the situation has greatly improved. There are more events and like Big Bolaji and LafUp rightly told me, if you are smart enough you will make your money in Ibadan,” he said.

But several event organisers do complain to me about how they are being treated unfairly by Ibadan people who often fail to turn up at their events. At an event organised by Big Bolaji, comedienne Lepacious Bose joked about how Ibadan people would prefer to go from the University of Ibadan to Jogor Center for a free show and would not show up to an event at the university’s Trenchard Hall that would only cost N100. This prompted me to put a piece together on how to organise successful shows in Ibadan.

Peteru agreed with me on the issue of cost but he added that when the right people are not involved in the planning of an event, no matter how popular the organisers and the performers are, people will not show up.

“If Opa Williams’ Nite of a Thousand Laughs could flop in Ibadan, any event could flop. It’s not about how big the organisers or the artists are, if you don’t organise the event well, I can assure you that it would flop,” he told me pointblank.

The look on his face showed he doesn’t like events that flop, but he doesn’t like people that think they are too big to ask for advice either.

“Look at the Beat FM show for instance. They had all the superstars in attendance – Basketmouth, Gbenga Adeyinka, D’banj! Yet the hall was not full simply because they didn’t use the media outlets that Ibadan people are more familiar with,” he said.

But I was at his ComedyHub Season 2 (reviewed here), even though we paid N2,000 per head, the hall was filled. I began to wonder how he did it. At first, I thought maybe he gave out lots of free tickets.

“We only gave out a total of 20 free tickets – on radio and online,” he said, assuring me that apart from the recipients of the free tickets, others in attendance paid for the show.

With so many people standing, I asked him what would happen if many people cannot enter the hall on Sunday. He told me he had already figured out what to do. 2 shows. He also told me a bigger plan he will unveil on Sunday. But I won’t spill the beans by sharing it. But when he says it, know that you read it here first.

The way he put together the concept of the ComedyHub should teach other comedians who are beefing him (yes, he told me many of them are jealous of his success) why it is good to be calm, think ahead and be sensitive to available opportunities.

“While watching a particular movie in the cinema, I saw myself performing in front. I wrote that down. On a particular day, the cinema manager complained to me about low turnout and was considering various strategies to get people to come. I noted that too. Then I put things together and I later pitched the idea. Initially I wanted to charge N3,000 but he said we should make it N500. I disagreed and we later agreed on N2,000. He was surprised when he saw the turnout at the first edition to the point that he was suggesting we should make it monthly. But I insisted we should be doing it quarterly,” Peteru said.

He talked with very strong confidence that I had to ask what gives him the assurance that people will turn up.

“My brother, it is in God that I put my trust. I also have a strong fan base which is why you will only see my picture and name on the poster and not someone else. All I usually do is to just send BBM broadcasts and social media. And my people will come en masse,” he said.

For 2015, he said he has big plans and will continue to expand.

“We are putting together a team to support the brand. You need the right set of people to achieve desired results. I have my eyes set on bigger things and God-willing I will achieve them,” he told me.

I am very confident that Peteru will become a strong force to reckon with in Nigeria’s comedy industry, he believes he will even be popular beyond Nigeria. He even told me has gotten offers to perform outside the shores of Nigeria. When everything works out, I asked him what would happen to his fans in Ibadan?

He didn’t give the excited facial expressions many artists I interview do give me when I ask them this question. Instead, he folded his arms, sighed, looked down for a while before looking at me again.

“Let that time come, God will lead us appropriately; he will teach us what to do,” he told me soberly.

It is obvious that he loves his fans and has developed strong attachment and personal relationships with them unlike artists that see their fans as ordinary stepping stones to greater heights. He loves his girlfriend too although life has taught that no one can predict tomorrow.

I used all the tricks in journalism books to get him to tell me how much he charges per show but he kept laughing and repeating his telephone number. He did the same thing when I asked him when he plans to get married. But using psychological evaluation I could say he loves to be on stage and would be considerate to his clients; he is also madly in love with that lucky girl and may get married in 2015.

Within the hour that we spent together, I found out how humble and ambitious he is, how strategic and attentive he is becoming, and beyond any reasonable doubt I realised he has a very bright and highly successful career ahead of him.

To all those beefing Peteru, you guys should realise he has paid his dues, waited for his time to come and has gotten success nuggets from the grandfather of comedy in Nigeria himself. If your CV isn’t that impressive and the governor doesn’t invite you to his office regularly, do yourself a favor, swallow your pride and bow down to the undisputed king of comedy in the city of Ibadan.

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