Ginta Blessing aka Warri Boy is an award-winning comedian known for his improvisational skills and deadpan humor.
In this interview, the Mechanical Engineering graduate, hailing from Burutu Local Government Area in Delta State, talks about his career and the acting lessons Warri taught him. Here are excerpts:
Can you give us a brief history of yourself?
My name is Ginta Blessing but I am professionally known as MC BD Light. However, some people call me Warri Boy. I am from Burutu Local Government Area in Delta State. I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Federal Polytechnic in Mubi, Adamawa State. I come from a polygamous family and the fifth child of my mother’s six children.
Tell us about your childhood?
My childhood was a little hard because I was born and grew up in the village. I come from the creek with no hope of education but God through my elder brother took me to Warri. Today I graduated; I have traveled to almost every state in Nigeria and have also traveled abroad especially to France for study.
Why did you get into comedy?
In fact, it’s a talent I discovered at a young age. It started as child’s play as far back as my high school years. I was a noise maker in the class, but every time I made noise, it always generated so many laughs. And whenever my teachers asked me questions, my answers often provoked laughter. Luckily, I was admitted to the Federal Polytechnic in Mubi, Adamawa State. One day, during a meeting of our association, I asked a question and everyone started laughing. Thus, during the end-of-year party organized by my department, the president of our association asked me to be the facilitator. I was shocked because I had never anchored an event before. I felt that I was primitive and then I asked myself ‘how can I handle this?’ But he encouraged me to take on the responsibility entrusted to me by the department. I took it over and it became a huge hit, with everyone who attended the event singing my praises and even congratulating me on my great work.
What challenges do you face as a comedian?
I faced many challenges, including finding platforms to showcase my talent. People don’t believe in you, especially at the start of your career. It becomes difficult at first because no one knows you; even your family thinks you don’t know what you’re doing and therefore doesn’t take you seriously.
How long have you been working as a professional actor?
I started doing comedy about 10 years ago but professionally I think it’s about five years.
Tell us what it’s like to be an actor?
It’s very interesting, especially when you stand in front of the audience and tell them jokes that can make them laugh. If you have a deep sense of humor and your audience laughs uncontrollably, then you will be celebrated. When you walk down the street, your presence attracts a crowd; people will call you just to exchange pleasantries. Warri is the birthplace of comedy; only a few of us consider it a profession or a business.
A number of Nigerian comedians, including you, have their roots in Warri. Why is Warri considered the birthplace of comedy?
It’s a good thing I was brought up in Warri. This is because long before comedy took off in other parts of the country, it was already a big thing in Warri. In Warri, there is something we call ‘wording’. It’s like a competition where we spontaneously insult each other. I learned to be spontaneous as a comedian in Warri. If you say something to me on stage, I’ll respond immediately.
This was the training each of us received from Warri. Back when we were doing wording, if someone threw a word at you and you didn’t respond, you couldn’t play with anyone for an entire week. So you had to be strong and your mouth had to be clean and ready. When someone throws a punch at you, they expect you to say at least five other things. So when I hire someone on stage, I wouldn’t allow you to fight me because I know where I’m from. Warri taught me to be tenacious, original and spontaneous.
The way we speak, act and behave, most notably, our Pidgin English is out of this world. We talk about slang that others would like to copy.
Have you ever been taken on stage because of an expensive joke?
No, but I was reprimanded after making an expensive prank, and warned not to do it again. It happened twice and I felt really bad about it.
Are there things people still don’t know about you?
Yes of course, a lot of people don’t know that I do fish farming. I sing in the church choir. I am an entrepreneur as well as an actor.
What qualities should a good comedian have?
You can deliberately pursue your own style of comedy or develop it over time. Make people laugh, but you also have to laugh in difficult times.
What advice do you have for young artists like you?
You must have a great sense of humor and be able to make people laugh. Actors must also be consistent on stage. The content and delivery of the actors are honed through years of practice as they master their craft. If you really want to succeed in the comedy business, you have to be in television. That may change in the years to come, but right now television is hugely important. It creates the opportunity for so many people to see you. This would help you grow your audience.
What is your opinion of the Nigerian comedy industry?
The sketch industry is very big, so the government and investors should open their eyes to it, now that it is still very young.