Popular comedian, Francis Agoda aka I Go Dye is surely a delight to encounter whether on stage or offstage, writes TOFARATI IGE. In fact, there is never a dull moment with the funny bone, and after spending some time in his presence, one will most likely confess ‘I go die with laughter o.’

We ran into the Delta State-born rib-cracker at an event recently where he had just finished ‘murdering’ the crowd with laughter, and we quickly accosted him before he could hastily leave the scene of the ‘crime.’

Surely, he must have gotten into trouble on account of his jokes before, we were curious to know. But his face assumed a more serious countenance as he replied, ‘No, I’ve never gotten into trouble because of my jokes before. I try as much as possible to educate people with my jokes on stage. Apart from laughing, there must be a message to be passed across to people with every joke. So I don’t see any reason why I will be harassed because I’m a Nigerian. If you don’t want people to embarrass you, you have to respect yourself; and that is what I always try to do.’

Known to perform a lot outside the shores of the country, we sought to know how he manages to get the crowd to laugh in a foreign land. He wastes no time in answering, ‘First, you need to understand that most of the events we go for outside the country are populated by Nigerians living abroad. At a typical show overseas, you can have 80% of Nigerians, and 20% foreigners. So far it’s an English speaking country, they’ll be able to understand us, and I always alternate between normal English and pidgin.’

I Go Dye believes that comedy is serious business and should be approached just like any other profession. He says, ‘Comedy is like every other profession that requires seriousness. You should also understand that your life must be tied to your job, because if you don’t do it well, someone out there will do it better than you. Even if there are people who can do it better than you, have it in mind that you’re going there to do your job and entertain; endeavor to be the best you can be at all times. In essence, the way I get myself ready for a performance is the same way you prepare for your own job.’

Still expressing his passion for his job, I Go Dye recalls that the most important person he needed to convince before embarking on the journey that has brought him to this point was the man in the mirror. In his words, ‘I believe in God, and I believe in myself. For you to succeed in whatever you do in life, you have to believe in yourself. The sacrifice I had to make for my job was me taking the decision to become a comedian, even when it was not so lucrative. But I stuck to it because I had the passion for it, and today, I thank God that I actually made that decision.’

He speaks further, ‘When I started comedy about 20 years ago, entertainers were not seen as serious people. As at then, there was no way my family would support my choice of being a comedian, but as time went on, they began to assist me. And they said, since it is what I love, I should do it. That’s why I always give credit to my parents for giving me the opportunity to walk in the path that I chose.’

As popular as he is though, not much is known about I Go Dye’s personal life. He admits with a mischievous smile that it is deliberate. ‘All I want is for people to come and watch me. I’m not the type that likes to put myself out there. From a tender age, when I started presenting programs at Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS), I knew that I had sold out my private life. And the best I can do is to protect the little privacy that I have left; and that is what I’m doing,’ he says.

At a time when many entertainers complain that the government and Corporate Nigeria is not giving the industry adequate support, I Go Dye singles out telecommunications giant, Globacom for commendation. His words, ‘I have to give credit to Globacom because it’s not easy doing what they’re doing. They’re supporting the entertainment industry, and if other companies can follow in their footsteps, they will create more jobs for the youths. When they call us for events, there are people that work with us as well; so it has a spiral effect. For me, Globacom has increased the level of employment in Nigeria.’

The general belief is that no matter how talented or skilled an individual is, he or she must have ‘off’ days, but this rule doesn’t apply to the former radio presenter. He chuckles, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever had any embarrassing moment on stage because I’m not someone that takes life too seriously. The truth is that no matter how serious you take life, none of us is going to get out alive. I don’t see any incident as embarrassing; I only learn from them. Those things you may see as embarrassing are actually lessons that guide you, and can make you succeed in future.’

How about embarrassment from female fans? I Go Dye says he yearns for it. ‘No no no. I always read it in papers where celebrities say that female fans harass them, but I’m actually looking for the ladies that will come and harass me. I’m not running from them; in fact, I’m available. I’m the right person to harass and embarrass sexually,’ he gesticulates heartily.

As a fitting parting shot, he tells us about the people that inspire him. ‘The comedy industry in Nigeria has really grown. People who I respect their creative minds include Ali Baba, Gandoki, among others. All comedians have their weaknesses and strengths. Besides, one person’s weakness can be another one’s strength, and vice-versa. One way or the other, they all inspire me,’ he enthuses.

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