I DIDN’T ENJOY MY MARRIAGE AT ALL, NOT EVEN FOR A DAY –MANDY
One of the first female comedians in Nigeria, Mandy, tells ‘Nonye Ben-Nwankwo her fears about getting married again
It’s like younger female comedians seem to be overtaking you nowadays, why?
I don’t really know what to say about this. I don’t know if I am going underground but what I know is that my account balance is getting bigger and bigger. It actually depends on where we have been. But the truth is that I have been very busy. Last December, I was very busy with the Star Arising Quest with Mrs Ovia. I have had so many jobs since then.
So it is still comedy?
Oh yes it is and has always been.
Haven’t you thought, in your sober moments, of quitting and going into some other thing?
No, I haven’t done that. You see, the problem is that I cannot quit. In fact, it is that ‘sober moments’ that the jokes come. In my own quiet time, I would start laughing and I would want to tell people this joke that popped into my head. So how can I quit? It is just like those that write songs, some write blues while some others write jazz and rock songs. The lyrics keep coming and you can’t stop it.
At some point, the comedy industry boomed, it wasn’t like that when you guys started. Did you ever anticipate that the industry would get to this level where some of you even pocket money in six figures?
I never thought it would be like this, never! When I see my colleagues living in big houses and driving big cars, I would always be amazed. I never thought we would get this far. To be frank, I never thought I would eat the ‘dividends’ of comedy in my time. I used to know the Lijadu Sisters that started singing way back in time. They have long gone before the newcomers like Chidinma (Miss Kedike) and her colleagues are collecting millions for a performance. They are now getting endorsement packages. Those Lijadu sisters never got any endorsement deals. So I never thought that it would be in my time that I would see it happen. I give God all the glory because it is happening before me and I am benefiting from it. So it wasn’t bad after all. It wasn’t bad starting it and sticking my neck and saying I would want to do it.
So could that be the reason so many other female comedians came on board? You guys were less than three when you started…
My greatest joy is to see other female comedians in this industry. Believe me; on-air-personalities are doing a fantastic job. They are now branching out to be MCs and they now do comedy as well. I am so grateful for that. Some may still think we are few but I say no. Tune your radio, people like Lolo 1 will make you laugh. Sabina is a great comedian. They are on radio but they are equally good and they make people laugh. If you don’t think they are funny, I think they are funny and they make us laugh and I see them as comedians. I don’t think any gender has the monopoly of a profession. All over the world, there are female comedians. It is not entirely a man’s world. We should begin to understand it in Africa that ladies should be seen and heard any time.
Why do you first abuse yourself all the time you perform?
A lady once told me that whenever they bring me to anchor their events, they have rest of mind because they know I wouldn’t pick up the people in the crowd and ‘yab’ them. In such cases, their boss’ wife could be yabbed not knowing who she is. Certainly, the job of the person that recommended you to anchor the event would be on the line. I do not insult guests, I make them laugh and they leave. It is better I yab myself and take the money and go than to yab them and they would never invite me again.
Can you remember a bad day where your performance was below expectation?
Yes. One of my worst days was when the former first lady, Patience Jonathan, came to Lagos. I was about going on stage when my house help called me and told me my daughter, April, was sick. My God! I just lost it. She is my only child. It was at that moment that the host of the show called me up to perform. I didn’t know if I should climb the stage or if I should decline. Nobody knew what I was going through. My performance wasn’t good to me but incidentally, nobody knew about it. I still thank God. Most people see comedians as happy people. They don’t know we have challenges as well.
Are there times you want to be on your own and somebody is telling you to crack a joke?
That is the worst part of it. But because I am very diplomatic, I just subtly decline and perhaps feign being in a hurry and I walk away. Just recently, I was at the airport just back from the US and I was waiting for my luggage. We had waited for a long time not knowing if our luggage were in Amsterdam. This guy just saw me and was like, ‘comedian, wetin you see about the matter?’ I was like ‘not again please.’ He just said ‘shebi this our situation is not funny?’ I agreed totally with him that it wasn’t funny because I wasn’t even in the mood for any chit chat. Sometimes, people wouldn’t even know you are thinking about the bills you have to pay and somebody is there telling you, ‘make me laugh please.’ But it is a beautiful job that God has given us the opportunity to put smiles on peoples’ faces. I will not misuse it.
You started with TV, why didn’t you take it a step further and move to movies?
While I was starting, I had a problem. I was Mandy the musician, Mandy the actress and Mandy the comedian. It was getting out of hand. I was like Jack of all trades, master of none. I just decided to concentrate on this. Now, we are the ones that work the most. There would always be a wedding or an event at least every weekend. The musicians have to wait for big concerts. The actors have to wait until they are called to a location. But we are always busy. I felt it would be nice if I stick to comedy. That is what puts food on the table for me. I am not saying that music doesn’t pay. But for comedians, there would always be jobs. I want to concentrate on what I am doing than going to any location.
Talking about April, your daughter, when are you going to give her a ‘daddy’?
Chei! I believe you are a Christian and the Bible said something about sharing. I wouldn’t mind if you share your husband with me. But I know you wouldn’t want to do it. Many Nigerian women are so wicked. They can never share. But they would be the ones saying I don’t have a husband. If there can be a brave one that would just tell me to come and take her husband, I would just go. But seriously, I had a terrible experience in marriage, that is why I don’t want to go back to it. I didn’t enjoy it at all, not even for one day.
Are you for real?
Oh, maybe I enjoyed the traditional marriage day. After that, it wasn’t it again for me. I think that is why I am not in a hurry to get into marriage again. I would love to go into it. But then, I will not deceive you, my whole concentration is on my daughter.
Don’t you get lonely?
I have a fantastic friend, Yinka Davies. She is my closest friend. We hang out together all the time.
But Yinka is not always there; don’t you get so lonely in your bed?
I don’t feel lonely. Strangely, there are so many things I am thinking about. Maybe if I had a boyfriend or man friend that I would be worried about, then I would worry. I don’t think about it, it is not in my mind. Maybe I should start thinking of a man. I see so many men with huge six packs.
But do you get ‘toasters?’
Oh yes I do. But because of my faith, what they want is not what I want from them. One of my toasters was on my neck the other time and I told him if I didn’t see a ring, then he should forget me. What he wanted was just my body and I wasn’t ready to give him that.
But is it a big deal sleeping with your partner if you are in a relationship?
Some people might do it for money while others might do it for other reasons. I will not sleep with a man for money. God has blessed me. There are certain things I will not compromise any more. It is not because I am being proud. But I just want to be decent and respect myself and my daughter. I get so many toasters. Some want me to be their sugar mummy. Some are already married.
You may likely not regret your marriage because of your daughter…
He is not her father. I had her after I got divorced.
So why didn’t you marry the father of your daughter?
It was our decision. He is my friend. Ours wasn’t a lovey dovey kind of relationship.
Is he still your friend?
Sometimes. We are friends when it is not time to pay school fees. When it is time to pay school fees, we are not friends. My daughter tells me not to call her daddy when it is school fees time so that he wouldn’t run away again.
Does your mother pressurise you to get married?
No, not any more. She used to. She knows me. My marriage was very short. She was wondering how we would do it.
How long did the marriage last?
It lasted for just three months. It doesn’t upset me again.
Is he your friend?
Ha! No o
Was it your fault or his?
I wouldn’t know. I might be a funny person but I might have my bad side. He might tell you it was my fault and I would also sit down here and tell you that it was his fault. I really can’t say. It got to a point we couldn’t take it anymore.