The name Otolorin Kehinde Peters may not ring a bell to the everyday Nigerian but when you mention KennyBlaq, what comes to mind is undiluted music-comedy by one of the most mercurial talents the industry has ever witnessed.
From grabbing the comedian of the year award to winning the prestigious comedy show of the year, holding a shut down, one-man show at the indigo 02 Arena in London and still hosting one of the most attended music comedy concerts in Africa “The Oxymoron of Kenny Blaq” one really wonders how this very young individual has managed to accomplish all these feats in such a short space of 5 years.
Ogechi Anthony talks and laughs with the magnificent KennyBlaq about his mercurial journey to now.
How has life been generally?
Rain has been falling (laughs) this life, rain just dey fall. Life has been good, God has been faithful and we’ve been pushing, it’s been challenging, it has not been easy sustaining the trend, we’ve been doing very well.
Tell us about your background?
I am the last set of twins in the family of seven and the last born, I mean with my twin sister (laughs). I attended Airforce Nursery and Primary school; because of school fees (laughs), I attended Gold vessel primary school where I did my common entrance. I attended Strong foundation comprehensive college for my secondary school leaving certificate. I even attended tutorial in Hybrid College because of school fees issue, I’m an Alumni of The Federal Radio Corporation Of Nigeria, I have a certificate as a broadcaster and entertainment is what I do for a living.
How would you sum up the journey so far?
The journey so far has been crazy, I think I started as the youngest in the industry and I’m still one of the youngest. It’s been crazy, coming from when people found it hard to listen to a small boy to everybody now listening to the small boy and can’t wait to hear from the small boy. So it’s been a crazy journey so far and getting people to understand that he’s not a musician or a comedian but a music comedian and also getting them to understand what music comedy itself is. But we thank God.
When did the big break come for you?
Mid-term break (laughs) I think the big break should be Alibaba‘s January 1st concert in 2016 or 2017 I can’t remember. I did a performance and the video went viral and that was it for me. That was where AY saw me and I did Ay Live and also where Yaw saw me and I did Yaw event too and also did ‘Love Like A Movie’ for Dare Art Alade, where I performed after Ciara. I started building my own brand, going for comedy shows and I went for MC Abbey’s show in London. I started traveling round till when I was able to do my own show in London and also here in Nigeria.
You came up with a unique style of dishing out your comedy by infusing music and remixing songs, what exactly triggered that idea of yours?
My love for music, I’m a music person. If you look around this house, you’ll see a studio, microphone, music box, I mean everything is related to music. I’ve always been a musician before comedy came and took everything away from me in a good way. I decided not to let the music go and add the music to the comedy and I think that’s what makes me unique. Sometimes, I try everything possible to shy away from the music and do just comedy but music would always come and remind me that we are in this together till death do us part.
What makes comedy so important to you and what keeps you going?
If there’s no traffic, what keeps me going is bike (laughs…) I love seeing people happy, I don’t like seeing people sad, depressed, angry. Making people happy is my life, I always like to be responsible for your laughter and smile, I’m passionate about the comedy and also the comedy industry too and also the craft.
How do you prepare to perform? Has that changed over the years?
It’s always a long process, getting the materials and if you watch my performance you’ll find out that I’m always trying to come out with something new every time which is not always easy. I always try everything possible not to repeat jokes in event. I always like to come out first so a lot goes into the production, I rehearse with my band and producers, I try as much as possible to write the story, get the music, punch line, humor right and deliver. It’s always challenging, because people tell me you don’t try a new joke on a big platform but I don’t care, I don’t really respect the rules, I like to bend the rules. I prepare by challenging myself, been better than what I did the last time.
Looking back at the period you started The Oxymoron of KennyBlaq, what kept you going in the midst of many challenges?
Wetin happen for back (laughs) The passion. I don’t care about what anybody says, if I want to do anything, I will do it and I don’t really care about what anybody would tell me. I don’t let people talk me down; the fact that people don’t believe in something doesn’t mean I don’t believe in it. A lot of careers and dreams have died because of “what will people say?” I believe so much in myself and yes there have been challenges monetary wise and getting sponsors to be part of this. We have to do what we have to do at the end of the day, we no fit steal, we no fit carry gun (laughs). Right now, we are at the point of giving the very best of music comedy and it’s been challenging I will not lie, especially this third term, you know how it gets tough when you want to write the final exam to get to the net class, when your teachers would bring questions from the first and second term too, that’s exactly how I feel right now.
Seeing the flamboyant lifestyle some comedians live now would you say comedy is a lucrative career?
Yes, it is. It is for those that are born to do it and also those that sees it as a business. I have been able to buy a car, get my own house, sit with Kings, do businesses, and work with a lot of brands because of Comedy. If you’re in the right path, you’ll graduate from doing entertainment to doing show business and that’s when you’ll start making money and people will start calling you to work with them. Comedians are now co-anchoring events with MCs and I’m lucky I can do both
Kennyblaq, you make so much from the society, how do you give back to the society?
I try as much as possible to do my things low key, I’m not a person who would do something and brag about it, I always like my work to speak for me because you’ve asked, I’ll just say two amongst many. In terms of my locality, there was a completion called Teens Can Code in Ejigbo and I was able to get a laptop for somebody who did very well in the competition and I didn’t even know it was going to go far. Months after, he competition got a recognition from the Queen of England, so I just felt like I did something and the little thing I did went viral. I also try to carry the comedians in Ejigbo along, I put them on the Oxymoron Of Kennyblaq’s platform every year and also go online, see talented people and put them on the show as well just as I was given the platform. That’s why my other show Reckless was created to give opportunity to young people who can do very well and share same platform with me. I’m a growing brand, the little fame and things I have, I feel like I can share with the society and grow with them. I’m also planning a show in Ejigbo to say thank you to everybody, I want this to be impactful and say if Kennyblaq can make it, I can.
Is there anything that you won’t joke about?
I won’t joke about GOD and sensitive issues.
What is the worst experience you’ve ever had on stage?
I was performing on a stage and they had to switch off the microphone because I over used my time, that was a long time ago anyways, the stage manager didn’t tell me how many minute I was supposed to use, he just told me go (laughs) and I was going too, I didn’t know there was going to be traffic, he just stopped me (laughs) I felt really bad and sometimes I go on stage having this feeling that my material is so funny and when I crack it, I see just me laughing. As a comedian, you don’t have good reception everyday but it makes me stronger and I tell myself I need to do more.
What’s the career accomplishment you’re most proud of?
When I did my own show at the Indigo O2 London, it wasn’t easy staging a one-man show. I was the headliner and everybody in that hall came because of me. This is me a black boy in a white man’s land doing a show and it was my biggest accomplishment so far and I pray that God will give me the grace to do more because my next target is The Apollo and I pray it will happen soon, even something bigger than The Apollo, something big might happen soon you never can tell God can do anything. Also, staging the Eko hotel show every year is something for me; it’s something I look forward to every year.
What events or occasion would you not perform in?
The one that they are yet to pay me my balance (laughs) A divorce party.
Your concerts are always star studded with a list artiste and comedians, how have you been able to maintain this relationship with colleagues?
It’s not been easy, some of the musicians I use their songs to crack my jokes are people who appreciate them and understand the fact that in a way I’m trying to promote their songs. At a point, I was thinking they’d sue me (laughs) but thank God some of them even call to tell me I’ve not used their songs and they come to my event just to show me that they are with me and they believe in what I do. They even call to remind me that I’ve not invited them for my show and they always come through for me.
How do you feel when your colleagues use your materials at events?
It’s something we are all trying to tackle in the industry and we’re having meetings as comedians because it’s getting to a point where an up and coming comedian has a very good material and a senior colleague would crack it on a big platform that the younger comedian have not been. By popular demand, the material becomes the senior colleague’s own, it’s really crazy but we are trying to make sure that everybody is original. Even without tackling it, originality will make you go far but we still need to tackle it because comedians are suffering. Don’t steal your colleague’s jokes, it’s bad.
What do you do to relax?
I go to the pool to swim, go to the cinema to watch movies or stay at home and watch movies on Netflix.
If you weren’t doing comedy what other career would have chosen?
A musician obviously.
Message to your fans? `
Be 100% original, I want to say thank you to my fans for the support so far, thank you for believing in the brand KENNYBLAQ. We’ve been trending for 5 years now all thanks to you. From up and coming comedian to comedian of the year, comedy show of the year, you’ve been the one voting. Even when I don’t do well on stage, you guys come to my DM and tell me how you feel about my performance and you always give me reasons to always do better and also to my critics, I love you guys, without you guys I’d never know my performances on stage weren’t up to expectations. I love you guys so much because without you guys there won’t be Kennyblaq but without me, there will be you (Laughs).
What advice would you give to aspiring comedians?
Be you, be original, put God first, believe in yourself, don’t try to be someone else but you can have mentors of course, Mentors are suppose to guide you to be a better you and not being like your mentor or trying to do everything your mentor is doing, do your thing, be known for something positive, create your own unique style, don’t be too big to be on people’s platform I know you can’t be on all platforms but do the ones you can because of the love you have for the craft, surprise the younger ones when you make it, show love to them, carry them along and always try to respect the senior ones that are there because you’ll also get there.