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  • Getting A White Collar Job In This Recession Won't Be A Bad Idea - Owen Gee
  • Popular comedian Owen gee, in a new interview with The Nation, talked about life at 40, his career and of course the current state of the nation.

    Read excerpts below:

    Tell us about what inspired your show

    Well, the talk show, Buzz Live with Owen Gee, is a concept by Total Recall Media. After doing so many other things that were comedy-related like standup, stage plays, skits, and music comedy, I sat down and thought of the next step and decided to follow in the footsteps of international comedians who add the title of talk show host to their many achievements by doing a hilarious talk show that addresses current issues comically while getting to know celebrities resident in Nigeria. We shot two first seasons as a test run and it worked out well and so we continued and it has gathered acceptance and international appeal. We also wanted a segment where we can help up and coming artistes to appear on huge platform to sell their trade to a larger audience. That was why we introduced the What Was Buzzing? And we have had up to 50 or more.

    What is it like trying to sustain such show?
    Trying to sustain the show is one of the most difficult aspects of my career. In fact, we haven’t shot for a year now due to proper funding and returns. The recession is making it difficult to fill advert spots even when the show is a brilliant one. It has only been by the grace of God that we have survived.

    We have to pay for so many things like the empty studio where we practically shoot the show. We have to pay for the construction of the set, lighting, sound, crew; that is because we do a three-camera shots. And then there are other things like logistics, costume, producers, directors and others. And getting sponsorship is a huge challenge.

    That is why when we go to preach this huge concept to all those cable stations and they say they don’t have money, it’s always painful. Because the money we could have used to build houses and buy flashy cars or go abroad for holidays are put into these projects to entertain people. We have done three seasons on our own now and we are yet to do the fourth, which will cost about 17 million naira. So sponsorship has really been a major challenge.

    Are you considering quitting and getting a white collar job?
    Getting a white collar job is not something that I have really thought of, but it won’t be a bad idea.

    People do not know that entertainers are professionals on their own. For one to be able to sit down and write three verses of a song, and it becomes a global hit is not an easy task. It is the same thing with having to sit down and put these jokes together for sitcoms, skits, stage plays, talk shows, concepts and writing scripts for movies; people do not know that it is a very huge task.

    The white collar job is easier, because it is a monotonous way of doing things. We do the same thing repeatedly all the time. I won’t mind doing it. But if I want to, I would like to hold a political position. We have had a lot of people who haven’t been delivering well where governance is concerned. I would like to work in or with government. I won’t want to contest for any position. I would just love to go in and contribute my own quota. I don’t want it to be a permanent position.

    But, really, a job is a job; whether white collar or not. As long as it can take care of your needs, putting in work as a labourer and getting paid wages is what is important.

    How easy is it to put up a show and get returns?
    I haven’t really done a stand-up comedy show. I am planning my first one for this year. I wanted to put up one last year, but I put it on hold and started the movie project.

    It eats a lot into my time and finances. And I could not really put the show together. And for those who say it is not possible, it is only few that have been able to do it and break even. For a lot of people, it is all about brand building, selling. They sell their brand out to the fans and loyal customers. Whatever cost is used to put up the show is far more than what they get in returns.

    A show that takes place in somewhere like Eko Hotel sees you pay between 20 and 22 million naira just for a night. And that does not include the money for surcharge, the artistes, the lightening, the crew, and the media coverage. And at the end you have to invest like 50 million to put up a good show and in return get like 25million from the gate fee.

    Don’t forget that you will have people who will come to beg you for free ticket, reminding you of how they helped you when you started. It’s really killing.

    And I have asked some of my colleagues who have done it and they were like, ‘guy, if you are making this to make money, then you are wasting your time. ‘It is all about brand building.’ And that is what scares me.

    That is why I will be using a different approach to my show. I will be using a smaller venue, and non conventional method to prove to them that I can still do it and make profit.

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