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“It was always a struggle to be a (stand-up) comedian” – Teju Babyface



Teju Babyface

Comedian Olateju Oyelakin, popularly known as Teju Babyface in an interview with PUNCH, reveled that he was always struggling during his stand-up comedy career.

Teju Babyface, who left stand-up comedy in 2013 said:

It was always a struggle to be a (stand up) comedian. You may not have seen the struggle but every time I got on stage, it was a constant struggle. I had to prove myself to the audience constantly at every performance. It was a constant struggle and there were times I had been called on stage and the applause at the best of time would be polite, at the worst of times it would be non-existent. If you think about it, I really did not look like a comedian. It was as if the audience did not believe I could make them laugh; so I always had to prove myself. There was a time that it did not matter because I really enjoyed doing it. But after a certain time, your inner man would call out to you and things like discontent would start to set in.

It occurred to me that I was never going to be the number one stand-up comedian. I would never forget that day. It occurred to me several times in my stand-up comedy career but there was a certain day I had a lucid moment after a particular performance. As I got off the stage, it occurred to me that I was not called to be a career stand-up comedian. It was just a stage through which I had to pass. I am not saying I am not a comedian because I will always be one but I am no longer a stand-up comedian. I like to use the example of Steve Harvey in the US. He did his last stand-up comedy show in Las Vegas in 2012 but he hosts the Steve Harvey show on television and radio, he has a childrenโ€™s show and he is also an author.ย  He is a business magnate but he would always be a comedian. You cannot watch him and not laugh and it is the same thing with me. Either it is the Teju Babyface Show or you are reading my book or listening to me speak; you will always laugh but I would not stand on stage like I used to do to tell jokes.

On his recently released book, Secrets of the Streets, he said:

I did not set out to write a book but I believed some years ago that I was meant to speak to people, to become a motivational speaker. I found out that I was writing a lot of things that I intended to speak about but the challenge was that nobody was calling me to speak. It was a challenge to find somewhere to speak and the places I wrote to always felt that I am a comedian and wondered what I know about public speaking.

After putting all the materials in my computer for a while, my friend suggested that I should write a book. I laughed at him at first but since he said I would become an authority if I write a book, after thinking about it for a while, it made sense to me. When I was launching the book, I found peace in my heart. Someone asked me if I had made the money I intended to make and I told them that they do not have an idea.

I did not run into debt trying to do it but it is not about money anymore. There is a joy I feel being an author and I feel like a man who had finally found himself. A few people who saw me during the book launch said it in different ways that I have finally got into my place through writing and speaking.


  1. A Real Nigerian

    June 3, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Maybe because you’re not funny?

    • Nee

      June 3, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      Sugabelly? Is that you?

  2. Nakoms

    June 3, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Man know thyself.

    It takes a lot of personal courage for a man to say “this is not me. This is not my thing”. Some “comedians” are not as funny as he is, but they refuse throw in the towel.

    It takes a very confident person to bring this personal struggle out to the public!

    Good luck on your future endeavors

  3. funmilola

    June 3, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    There’s nothing like finding your calling and excelling in it. Well done teju for not wasting your time doing stand up comedy.

  4. Temi

    June 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Plus it’s just hard to beat the Warri boys. Hahah

  5. Lacey

    June 3, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Teju do your thing!!! Trust the youths in Nigeria, all they are about is money ?!!!

    I will never take a job where I am not adding value!!! You must find that role to makes you!!! That is why we have scammers every where, everyone wants to be someone else.

  6. Nelo

    June 4, 2017 at 12:13 am

    it was probably for the best because i never found Teju to be funny as a comedian

  7. Ajala & Foodie

    June 4, 2017 at 2:45 am

    While I understand that this is an excerpt from an entire interview (I.e not the whole picture). I am also not trying to minimize the importance of acknowledging your true calling and purpose. Nevertheless, this excerpt reminds me of “talk” I heard Micheal Jr. who a
    also happens to be a Comedian, give. He spoke about how he would always stress out about getting the right amount of applause and laughter after a routine just like Mr. Teju but then he had an epiphany. He needed to be more focused on what he could give I.e giving people a reason to laugh instead of what he could get I.e the applause and laughter FROM them.

    Why do we focus on what we can get instead of what we can give?? It is also the “epiphany” many successful business men and entrepreneurs have had and used to their advantage, the focus is always what they can give, what they can provide, what they get is a by product of that thought process. Maybe if our focus changes (I.e with our jobs, our businesses and business ideas, whatever we find ourselves doing, wherever it is we currently find ourselves) to what we can give as opposed to what we can get, maybe the struggles and discontentment will seem less daunting or even cease to exist.

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