How AY brought me into comedy – Elenu
You can’t watch Elenu perform without falling in love with his craft. Born Akinlami Babatunde Julius, Elenu has been described by many with different appellations.
To some, he is a genius and to others, he is a phenomenon. But for Elenu, a fast-rising comedian, comedy was hardly a craft he gave serious thought to until a few years ago.
Growing up, he dreamt of becoming a medical doctor but his love for computers saw him settling for computer science, a course he bagged an ordinary national diploma (OND).
Although Elenu knew very little about comedy, a show put together by Ayo Mayokun, popularly known as AY, changed his perspective and perhaps his focus on life. Armed with the ability to make people laugh while growing up, little did he know the art would fetch him fame and fortune.
Elenu’s life changed for good on November 10, 2006, when he won the AY Open Mic Comedy Competition. He hasn’t looked back since then as he continues to churn out impeccable stage performances, year-in-year-out.
The feat gave him the in-road he desired to get into comedy big time, teaming up with household names in the business including AY, Gordons, I Go Dye, Basket Mouth, Ali Baba, Okey Bakassi, Julius Agwu to mention just a few.
“My legs shook the first time I got on the big stage,” said Elenu, as he recalled his first stage performance as a comedian. “It was a day after I won the AY Open Mic Competition. I was invited for the Nigerian Comedy Awards. After that, the next big stage I performed on was the AY live. That was the first time I saw a very large crowd. Before then, I was back stage trying to calm my nerves.”
Elenu continued: “Immediately I was called on the stage, I forgot all the jokes I had rehearsed. However, when I gave my first joke and people laughed, the jokes started coming back to me and I was able to overcome my stage fright.”
Elenu said both AY and fellow comedy legend Basketmouth have done a lot to develop the Nigerian entertainment industry with their industrious talent worthy of emulation.
Elenu commended AY for grooming upcoming comedians and giving them a platform to showcase their talents through the AY Open Mic Competition.
He said that he came from a poor background, as he could describe the journey of his life as one of grass to grace because he was not born into a rich family.
The recognitions soon started coming his way as in 2011, he was regarded as the official comedian for the then governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio.
At the Godswill Akpabio Scrabble Classic, at the Gala Nite, midway into his performance, the governor stood up and showered encomiums on a man whose natural talent makes people laugh, forgetting their sorrows, pain and anguish, labelling him “a comedian after my heart.”
What makes him unique is the fact that he often updates himself by going out of his regular routine of jokes. Elenu however complained that people tend to take him for granted even when he is expressing himself for real.
He recalled one of those instances he finds very difficult to comprehend. “The day I asked my fiancée out, she thought I was joking. The first thing that came out of her mouth was these comedians are very funny.
“For somebody that I expected to see reasons with what I was saying to take it as a joke put me off but I get it all the time. A friend’s car was stolen and I broadcast it on Blackberry in case anybody sees it. The first comment I got was from somebody asking me if it was a joke.
“We accept it and it is something we have come to live with. It is not something we should be angry about,” added Elenu, who regards AY and Basketmouth as his role models.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.