Victor Ebiye is a 23 year old graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering from Covenant University Nigeria. While in school, he hosted shows and was always up to mischief, giving faux or exaggerated testimonies during service just to crack people up. Today, he is among the rated comedians on Instagram and is set to blow in no distant time. In this exclusive interview with Winifred Ononikpo, he highlights the good and bad of his journey so far as well as shares his aspiration for comedy in Nigeria.
At what phase did you decide you wanted to become a comedian?
Ebiye: It all started when I was between 16 and 18. I used to make my classmates in secondary school laugh then I started nursing the idea of launching a career in comedy. But I was a very shy person and I knew I had to muster a lot of courage if I was going to do this.
Did you have to do anything specific to overcome the shyness?
Ebiye: Well shyness for me means not being accepted. I used to be shy when I get on stage to perform but once the laughs start coming in, the shyness leaves. That’s acceptance for me right there!
Where did you have your first real gig and what was the experience like?
Ebiye: It was in Covenant University. I was in my first year then; that was 2009. It was a social night; it was very good, I had a standing ovation afterwards. But back then I didn’t have my own jokes; I used to say people’s jokes. It was a mixture of Basketmouth and Bovi’s jokes so that made me sure I was going to get the standing ovation.
You plagiarized people’s jokes?
Ebiye: In my defense, I was just an amateur then.
What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve had while performing in front of a live audience?
Ebiye: Like I said earlier, I didn’t have my own jokes. So the next time I went on stage, that was after my first gig, a few friends talked me into telling my own jokes so I decided to try my own stuff and it didn’t turn out the way I planned. All in all, I was booed off stage.
How did you handle it?
Ebiye: I had to step down in tears. I was crying. I was wet; with tears.
Wow, I’m sorry to hear that. Moving on to your online platform, why have you chosen Instagram as a medium to air your jokes?
Ebiye: Initially I shot some skits where I had to rent cameras and pay guys to edit then I realized I can do these things myself. Instagram is free and I have editing apps that are free. The whole point is just to save cost.
You’ve made skits about Wizkid, Falzthebahdguy, Davido, Burnaboy etc. But Linda Ikeji has the highest number of skits so far. What prompted you to start making skits about her and even call yourself MR IKEJI on social media?
Ebiye: I realized talking about controversial issues would stir attention from people so I decided to merge people’s comments and opinion on Linda Ikeji buying a multimillion mansion with mine and come up with the skits. Controversial topics are best to make jokes about and Linda buying that house is good business for me. I did a video where I acted as her husband in her house and surprisingly it took over the internet. That was how people started calling me Mr. Ikeji, Linda Ikeji’s husband, Linda Ikeji’s boo etc.
Have you been able to catch her attention?
Ebiye: I won’t say she hasn’t seen my stuff but we’ve not met one on one and I still have intentions of meeting her soon. Her friends have mentioned her, a lot of people have tagged her but she has remained mum. She hasn’t reacted or commented and I guess her saying anything will trigger my success the more so she’s trying to be very careful with her words.
In less than one week you garnered over 10,000 followers on Instagram. How does that feel and how do you handle your new found fame?
Ebiye: It was overwhelming; I feel great. But i try not to act like I’m famous. It didn’t even dawn on me until one day I went to buy fuel and at the filling station people were greeting me, saying “ah, are you not Linda’s husband?” Since then it’s been crazy but I don’t form; I try to relate with them in the best possible way till I buy my G Wagon, tinted (Laughs)
Now you have over 18,000 followers, there must be a thousand females on your neck. How have you handled the pressure from females so far?
Ebiye: There’s no pressure, I mean that’s a question for TuFace. There’s no pressure for now. I actually have more male followers than female. I know because I’ve used an app to check. They all probably love me for what I do.
Coming down to your personal life, what was childhood and growing up like?
Ebiye: Growing up, I never knew my dad. As a matter of fact first time I ever saw him was at his burial. I have an elder sister but my father had lots of kids. He spread his tentacles round Lagos. He has about 5 wives including my mom so children dey.
Have you ever had all your siblings under one roof?
Ebiye: Yeah, my father’s burial. I just saw everybody was looking like me. I was confused like “what’s going on?” But it’s okay.
Did you perform at your dad’s burial, maybe while eulogizing him just to console and cheer people up a bit?
Ebiye: No, I did not.
Is your family supportive of your comedy career?
Ebiye: Yeah, in their own way they are. But my mom’s major fear is the late night movement and late night shows. But if she’ll give me the money I’ll stop; and by the time she sees the result of my hard work (the money) she’s cool.
Why did you choose ComedianEbiye as your stage name?
Ebiye: I’ve always looked for a stage name all to no avail. Overtime, the name just grew with me; I just saw myself answering that name and there was no other option. I don’t have plans on changing it though; I’m going to be Ebiye forever.
Okay back to your professional life. The Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola is as good as over but recently you posted well-packaged customized Coca-Cola bottles on Instagram. Is that some sort of secret endorsement from the company?
Ebiye: No oh. In as much as it’s still under the Coca-Cola Company, I’m actually a Sprite person. I’ve not even drank the Coke. I guess they recognized my effort and humor online. I just got a call, they asked for my address and the next day, they were delivered to me by two beautiful models.
Oh that’s nice. You recently pulled a prank about bombing an airplane but took it down due to criticism from your followers. Don’t you think some people will see it as a sign of weakness on your part?
Ebiye: As you know I just started. I actually got a message from a senior colleague whose name I wouldn’t mention. I wasn’t going to take it down despite the comments; I didn’t even read the comments. But he told me as an elder colleague to take it down for now because people that lost loved ones in that kind of circumstance will not find it funny. I’m a basket of jokes so taking down one joke will not stop me from delivering.
You said your senior colleague advised you to take down the joke “for now”. Does this mean there are chances of reposting it?
Ebiye: No I wouldn’t post it up again. It’s kinda early to start having haters.
Apart from comedy, do you have any other talents?
Ebiye: Yeah. I sing as well, I can dance, I can act. I feel I can do anything but I just want to focus on comedy. Standup comedy is the exact genre I specialize in.
So who is your favorite comedian and which comedian inspires you most?
Ebiye: Basketmouth, Basketmouth, all the way. BRIGHT OKPOCHA.
In the next 5 years, what do you hope to have achieved in terms of stepping up the game in comedy and for yourself?
Ebiye: Let me not be too ambitious but in the next 5 years I see myself being all over Africa, shutting down Africa basically and some areas of UK; you know what I’m saying.
What plans do you have concerning your engineering degree from Covenant University?
Ebiye: I plan on starting my own company with time. Make all the money I can from entertainment and start up a firm. But that’s on the long run, no rushing. I won’t leave comedy fully; it will just be something I will do on the side.
So far, what has been your most memorable moment doing comedy?
Ebiye: Basically the attention I get from people I used to look up to. A lot of celebrities follow me; na me come dey follow back (general laughter). You know, I meet up some celebrities out there and they’ll be like “I followed you, follow back” and I’m like are you serious, this guy? And there are a lot of celebrities I used to follow before and they never followed me back but now they’re following me back. It feels good to be recognized. I go to the mall and everybody is greeting me, taking pictures, my friends are jealous (joking).
Can you tell us a spontaneous, witty joke?
Ebiye: Wow. Erm, we all know about Davido’s baby mama issue where he seized the baby from the baby mama for over 3 or 4 months because according to him they found cannabis in her breast milk. I mean, a new born baby has to suck something and he was with the baby for about 5 months. So I mean, what was the baby sucking? He should tell us.
Lastly Ebiye, for the benefit of those who’ll want to check out your social media afterwards, what are your handles?
Ebiye: My Instagram handle is @comedianebiye, my Twitter handle is also @comedianebiye and my Snapchat name is ebiyecomedian