Akinsete Olakunle is one of the trending comedians rocking the South West of Nigeria. The multitalented Local Government Studies graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State is the initiator of the annual Rendezvous Comedy Show. The Ondo State born stand-up comedian spoke with Parrot Xtra Magazine’s team made up of Kunle Gazali, Omotoyosl Jesuleye, Dotun Ajibola and Mariam Azeez. Excerpts:
Can you let us into your background?
My name is Akinsete Olakunle, I am fondly called‘Shete’. I am a comedian, I am from Ondo State, Ondo Town to be precise. I was born and bred in Ibadan, so I am partially from Ibadan. I had my primary and secondary education in Ibadan and Oyo respectively before I went to the great Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State for my tertiary education.
How did you get into entertainment?
Well, entertainment has always been something I have passion for, and it is something that I have always been doing ever since when I was young. I could remember I used to be a good mimic back then, when I used to make my immediate family laugh whenever we were catching fun. I just feel that entertainment is something that is part of me, so, I have got to explore it and I am doing it.
There are many segments in entertainment that you can venture into, you can act movies or go into music, why did you decide to be a stand-up comedian?
Yeah, you see, stand-up comedy, like I said before is something I’m used to, I am very good at mimicking, and this has made it to become my part and parcel. It is on this mimic talent in addition with passion that I developed myself. And since then it has just been the passion that is driving to the progress path. Thank God today; we thank Him for where we are coming from, where we are and where He is taking us to.
With the level of your education and academic background, why did you decide not to make use of your certificate?
Like I always say, I prefer using my passion to achieve whatever I desire, whatever you have passion for, you always have your way to go for it. Yes, I have good educational background and like you know everybody wants to go to school, still you become what you want to be. That is why you see some people that are bankers, lawyers but at the end of the day they come back to become On Air Personalities (OAP), they come back to what they want to do. What you want to do is different from what you read in school.
Who is that person that inspired you to venture into comedy, someone that you are looking up to as role model?
Back then,I used to watch Night of a Thousand Laughs on screen and that was what sharpened my passion, and since then I have made that belief that if they can do this, I can also do it. For those that really prompted me to comedy, I will take the likes of Ali Baba, Gbenga Adeyinka 1st, Koffi, Sako, Seyi Law and Laff Up. Those are the people that really stood as mentors for me at the early stage of being a comedian.
I also have some of them around me, we work together, we have always been there together, and they have always been there for me anytime I have my show.
What is your greatest desire in your career?
Oh my! What has always been my desire ever since is to be heard everywhere in the world, to make people laugh and make sure they are happy whenever they see me or we are together.
How easy is it for someone to become a comedian?
Ah! “e no easy o” like we all know that comedy is not like any other action you can learn. If you really want to be a comedian, you have to be funny, then after being funny you have to you know how to package it, brush it up, clean it up, enhance it and most importantly believe in yourself and pursue with passion.
Any regret so far?
Yeah, yeah, as we all know life is full of ups and downs. However, as far as my career as a stand-up comedian is concerned, I have never had any regret.
What can you say about the country’s present situation?
The state of things in the country is always a source of inspiration for comedians, when you look around on a daily basis you will definitely find something to speak up about. Nigeria itself is a joke, Davido 30 billion for the account, Diezani 90 billion who get money pass? That is “na for account not for hand.”
Looking at the entertainment industry, particularly in Ibadan here, how will you rate the performance?
Well, well, well, entertainment in Ibadan is doing fine, it is progressing, at least if we look and try to compare it with how it was five, ten years ago, we can say it’s getting better. The major thing about life is that it is dynamic and keeps changing, just like entertainment, it keeps growing; therefore, we will keep the pace with it. Entertainment in Ibadan is much better now compared with what used to happen in the past.
If you had the opportunity to correct certain things in the entertainment industry, what is that thing you would like to correct?
Ah, oh my God! Well, like I said earlier, I don’t see anything I can say that needs serious attention because, as far as I know, we don’t have a major problem in the entertainment industry, I just think we are growing, the industry is moving, you know when a child is growing you are going to see a lot of changes…
With the rate at which many people dabble into comedy, how are you guys coping with the expected competition?
Well, like I said the other time, you will have to carve a niche for yourself to distinguish yourself from others; it will always make a way for you. Distinguishing yourself from others will go a long way for people to know you for who you are and your craft. You know that there are different types of comedians, we have basic or stand-up comedians and likewise we have some that are online comedians or internet comedians. So, comedy is comedy it solely depends on how you can brand yourself and the way you go about it.
There are lots of shows nowadays In Ibadan; Rendezvous is one of them, what is trendy?
Yeah, yeah, it is about my show, I have shows every week, every month and the big one, which is like an anniversary,“Rendezvous with Shete”, where my friends and fans from all over the country will come around. We have done three editions now and the next edition is in November. So, every November is all about Rendezvous with Shete, this year again is going to be a very exciting one, Hope you guys will watch out for it.
Why November and not other months?
It is all about my month, I was born in November and you know November is a great month, seriously speaking, I just decided to choose November for the show because of other engagements.
What is the reason behind the Rendezvous show, is it to commemorate your birthday?
Not really, like I said earlier, I have a couple of shows that I do, I handle Comedy Night, I handle my monthly comedy show and comedy club, so, I decided that, fine, at the end of the year, let me do a big show to showcase more of myself and also to bring my friends together to make sure we have a very great one, and particularly to showcase Ibadan to the world.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?
Whao! I want to see myself above the sky, not in heaven o (Laughs), but above there.
What are your dos and don’ts?
Do I really have dos and don’ts? The thing is I don’t have do’s and don’t. For me, I do what I want to do and I don’t do what I don’t want to do. It’s just as simple as that.
How do you normally spend your day?
My day? Well, if I am not on stage, either I attend to my other businesses or I am just at home watching TV or playing games.
Are you married?
No, I am not, I am still single.
My brother, it is economy o. But very soon it will happen by God’s grace.
How do you cope with the opposite sex?
I am coping well with them, but we should give thanks to the Lord for His mercy.
Why it is that comedians always center their comedy lines on government?
Well, like I said before, the current situation in the country is funny, it is a joke, if normal Nigerians wake up in the morning, they will ask which kind of country is this sef, we, comedians are not just comedians, we are also social commentators, we should be able to talk about what is happening in the country for the purpose of bringing those at the helms of affairs to their normal senses. And after all, it is where we get our inspiration.
There are lots of Ibadan based comedians by the time they blow they move to Lagos, is Shete also planning to move to Lagos?
Shete is always in Lagos, he is always in Ibadan, you see, it is not just about moving to Lagos, my base is in Ibadan and as a matter of fact, from Ibadan we have travelled out of the country, we have been to many states in the country including Abuja. It is just about carving an image for yourself, know who you are and from there, spread out. It is all about how you can let a light shine in the midst of darkness, you know when the light is on everywhere is brightened up.
Some comedians do different things to “ginger their swagger” (smoke or drink) before they go on stage, what is your own style?
Oh my God! “Shete no dey smoke, he no dey drink because Shete no be Terry G o”(laughs). I don’t smoke and I don’t drink alcohol before facing the crowd, I just go on stage just like that. But to be sincere, you get nervous when you face the audience, for instance, is like they asked Shete to come and take 500K to go and make people you have never meet before laugh and happy, my brother, making people laugh is not a laughing matter, when they bring 2,000 people together with different backgrounds, people that are not okay, people that just lost their jobs, people that don’t have joy, bringing them together and make them laugh- it is not a joke. But ability to know yourself, be able to carry people along and create a niche for yourself is the only thing you need to be a good comedian. I don’t smoke or drink whenever I go on stage; I have never smoked in my life.
Your parting words?
I will like to say this to the people out there, aspiring comedians and entertainers generally to put God first and keep working hard, they should not allow the situation of the country to bother them. And to my friends and my fans out there, thank you for supporting the brand Shete, keep supporting the brand Shete and believe me, we will not let you down.
This November watch out for it, it’s going to be out of the box, where we bring people together under one roof, 2015was of High Definition, 2016 was Vintage and this year is going to be Out of the Box. There is always a theme for each year, so watch out for it!
Who do you see among your colleagues in the industry as threat or is Shete a threat to anyone?
Thank you my brother, I don’t see Shete as a threat to anyone and likewise I don’t see anybody as constituting a threat to me. This life is so much beautiful and there is enough space in the sky for birds to fly without touching one another. Let us all keep the flag of comedy flying.