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    Saturday, 17 November 2018

    My big tummy is my trademark, it makes people laugh –Mr Patrick

    Patrick Onyeke , popularly known as Mr Patrick , is a comedian . He started as a stand - up comedian over a decade ago and with the advent of social media , he has some unique comedy skits online . He tells TIMILEYIN AKINKAHUNSI about how he has been able to gain and sustain his fans on a global platform
    You have a very large fan base on social media , how did you start your social media skits ?
    Before I started social media skits, I used to be very frustrated . Most of the skits I do now were written about 10 years ago but there was no money to shoot them. I am happy there is a platform where I can easily showcase my talent . With the help of social media , I am now on a global platform .
    I have always taken my career seriously; I knew I would be a successful comedian so I invested all my time and energy in growing my career. There were distractions, but I didn ’ t allow them get to me . Comedy is a lot easier now compared to when I started .
    Do you think some of your fans are from the “ good old days ”?
    I started with the character ‘ Ultimate Mallam’ in the industry ; I evolved from Ultimate Mallam to Mr . Patrick . Some of my followers always tell me they know me as Ultimate Mallam.
    You have a big tummy, and it has become your signature look over the years, do some people troll you because of that ?
    My big tummy is my trademark , people laugh at it but at the end of the day , I use it to interpret my character . The Mr Patrick character is a dumb character .
    I go to the gym to stay fit , but anytime I want to shoot , I don ’ t go to the gym to make sure my tummy gets big and then after the shoot , I hit the gym to get my body back in shape .
    How do your fans react when they see you ?
    Most of them say I don ’ t look serious , but I am just a happy and a jolly good fellow .
    Do your wife and children also see you as a comedian at home?
    Yes , they always laugh anytime they are around me . I need to make my family happy first before making the world happy . They have come to accept me the way I am . They are used to my funny nature .
    Do you receive praises from your fans on social media?
    Yes , I get a lot of messages from people; they tell me I have helped them to relieve stress at work. There was a particular time a bank manager told me that anytime he was stressed in his office , he would go to the toilet just to watch my skits to relieve stress . People in Nigeria tell me I help them relieve all the stress in the country. Some of my fans tell me I help them come out of depression .
    You are currently in the US , where can you say you have a larger fan base – Nigeria or US ?
    I have the largest fan base in Nigeria , followed by other African countries . I also have fans in the US .
    How do you deal with advances from female fans ?
    It is normal for entertainers to be admired by women ; I try to keep my relationship with them platonic . As entertainers , our lifestyle is similar to that of politicians so we have to manage our fans properly .
    Has your presence on social media open doors for you ?
    Yes , it has, I am a brand ambassador , and people call to get advert space on my page regularly . I also use my platform to promote my movies .
    Have you ever wished you were as popular in real life as you are on social media ?
    Interestingly, people recognise me outside ; I have seen myself go from one generation to another generation seamlessly . I started my career a long time ago when there was nothing like social media platforms . I appreciate the fact that I have seen myself grow with the trend because I know many of my colleagues that we started together back then who are no longer relevant .
    However , I am conscious of the fact that a time will come when all these social media platforms will go into oblivion ; but I am ready to evolve with the changes that life and technology bring because I have to stay relevant .
    You are one of the old names we have in the entertainment industry in Nigeria , in your view , is there a difference between how comedy was done in those days and now?
    There is a huge difference ; in those days , comedy was raw . But now , we are in the era where people steal jokes . I always tell people that comedy is vast ; people can explore any genre they are interested in . I try to advise the younger ones to think and find where they fit into and explore it. I was one of the people who started skits in Nigeria which is plastic comedy, one of the genres that many people explore now . People do more of comedy skits than stand- up these days . One thing affecting the industry is that people jump on the bandwagon because people always want to imitate what their colleagues are doing , instead of carving out a niche for themselves . There are many ways to comedy that people can explore.
    Have you had reasons to block people on your social media platforms?
    I don ’ t like blocking people who troll me because doing that is like blocking them from their stupidity . There was a time someone insulted me on my page and few days later , he begged me for money.
    I don ’ t know if some people are bipolar in Nigeria because of the way they talk. There are more cyberbullies in Nigeria than the fans I have in America because over here , they are more constructive in their comments . Even if a skit is not funny , they will still find a way to encourage you .
    Do you think you would have done better with your skits if you were based in Nigeria ?
    I am a global citizen; I visit Nigeria frequently. I shuttle between the US and Nigeria .
    The advantage I have in America is that Internet access is better there than it is in Nigeria . I shoot my skits easily here without any form of disturbance and the ambience is conducive. If I were in Nigeria , I might be harassed by thugs to give tips and the likes when I need to shoot my skits .
    There was a time I shot some skits in Nigeria and I went to give some television stations to air them, but they told me my skits were not funny . Surprisingly , the same people now air my skits .
    When you shoot your skits on the streets of America, how do people react ?
    Compared to Nigeria , people in the US tend to mind their business , they don ’ t gather and watch .
    What skit will you say made you gain popularity on social media?
    I will say it is the ‘ Pop champagne ’ video I did . The video took me all over the world . It made me feel good and I was motivated to do more skits.

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