Emmanuel Okon, aka Dr. Lokosmith is the President, Comedian Guild, Cross River state. Handsome Dr. Lokosmith is a graduate of Social Works, University of Calaba, Calabar. He’s a comedian, actor, dancer and singer. In a detailed interview with pponline.com.ng, the ribs cracker bares his mind on August Meeting, an annual comedy event organized by him, his agenda for the guild, source of motivation and other sundry issues. excerpt
MAY WE MEET YOU AND DURATION OF THE GUILD?
My name is Emmanuel Okon, popularly known as Dr. Lokosmith, GCFR. I am the President, Comedians Guild Cross River state and CEO August Meeting. It is interesting to note that the Comedians Guild, Cross River state has been in existence for over two years and counting.
WHAT IS AUGUST MEETING?
August meeting is an event most reputed in South-Eastern Nigeria. It is a forum where women from all nooks and cranny assemble in their numbers for the display of influence and affluence. August Meeting in terms of entertainment is an annual comedy event organized by my humble self. The show has been running for years with increased fanbase.
TALKING FANBASE. WHAT IS THE ACCEPTABILITY INDEX OF AUGUST MEETING?
There is high demand for August Meeting in the state because of what it has to offer. August Meeting is a well packed event with lots of lessons for the society. It is highly appreciated in view of it pedagogical values. I have started my Parish tour to publicize this year’s edition. August meeting is impactful which is why the fan base is fast increasing courtesy of our rich content.
WHY PARISH TOUR?
I’m starting with Parishes because it is my own root, before reaching out to other places. As a Catholic, I can tell you categorically that 80% of those who attends my show are members of my denomination. This is because they know my worth in the church. No men, women or youth’s events in Cross River state that I am not actively involved. As I speak with you, I have received calls, messages, DMs, emails, fax and more from people asking details of this year’s event.
WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION FOR COMEDIANS GUILD, CROSS RIVER STATE?
We saw that Cross River state, using Calabar as case study has good part of entertainment. The comedy sect is one of the sectors that is very relevant in Calabar and Cross River state at large. On a more serious note, we looked at it that we cannot achieve what we are achieving alone especially if we compare ourselves with big markets like Lagos. So, we decided to put good heads together to make things easier for ourselves as a group and by extension individuals. That is why we brought this platform so that younger comedians who may not have access to big names like Last Prophet, Professor Aboki, Senator, just to mention a few will have access to these personalities through the guild and her activities. More so, the Guild serves as source of motivation for the younger breeds.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A MEMBER OF THE GUILD?
The benefits of a guild member are numerous even as I share a few. As an active member of the guild, it is always easier reaching out to the government because they (govt), recognize us as a legal entity. Secondly, as member of the guild, during your personal event, whatever anticipated expenses in terms of invited comedians will be discounted for as the guild will also help negotiate with other professional bodies like DJs Association, Cross River state Artistes forum, AGN and others who will listen to us at little or no cost because we are a body. These and more are the benefits of belonging to the guild. Let me use this medium to reach out to others yet to join the guild to do so in their best interest.
WHAT IS THE LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR GUILD?
The state government has been supportive. During the 2019 Christmas festival, having spoken with Effiom Trombon, SA to the governor on entertainment, he gave us the power to play. We didn’t play as individuals during the event but as a group. Again, we saw support from the state government by way of palliative to cushion the effects of the pandemic during Corona virus outbreak. With the exceptional programs of my administration, the government will sure partner with us as usual for greater developments of our state.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BELONGINGING TO THE GUILD?
The benefits are numerous. For instance, if you are a member of the guild, you don’t pay a comedian so high to perform in your show as compared to non-members. Again, where there is need for government intervention, it is easier to achieve as a group than as individuals. We carter for the welfare and protect the interests of our members against human right abuses. That is why we encourage members to pay dues so as to fight for their entitlements and accountability.
HOW HAS THE GUILD BEEN ABLE TO REGULATE THE ACTIVITIES OF HER MEMBERS?
For us, the guild is putting things in perspective in terms of regulations. For instance, we have different comedians in Cross River and Calabar with diverse individual annual comedy shows like ‘Laughtermenair’ (Last Prophet), ‘August meeting’ (DR. Lokosmith), ‘Uyai; (MC TED), ‘Laugh Conference’ (Mc Brown and Seto) and more. In view of plethora of events, we use the guild to ensure there is no clash of date, venue and performing artists when staging your show. This is made possible by streamlining events of our members looking at the state demography so that the guild can be part of your event.
WHAT ARE THE SHORT-TERM GOALS OF YOUR GOVERNMENT?
Well, as part of our short-term goals, we are focusing on been recognized by the federal government through our registration with the Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC). This will help the local contents developers compete favorably well in the international community. Secondly, we need a bank account from a recognized financial institution for the purposes of accountability, so that all moneys of the guild will be paid into the account. We are also planning on institutionalizing annual world comedy day. World comedy day is an annual event celebrated every first Sunday of May. We intend using occasions such as this to project comedians in a more positive manner devoid of caricatures.
WHAT WILL YOU DO DIFFERENTLY AS A REGIME IN TERMS OF MEMBERS WELFARE?
First OF all, my regime wants to give the young comedians courage and platform to further develop themselves, build followership or fanbase and by extension become financially independent. This will be most pronounced during our planned inter-local governments and states tours coming up soonest. Again, new bars and clubs are springing up in Calabar and Cross River state with little or no entertainment in terms of comic relieve. In the light of this, our drive as an administration is to meaningfully engage these young and enterprising comedians in every of such new recreational places so as to generate income for themselves as well as fulfill purpose.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE COMEDY AMIDST OTHER ARTS?
It was while in secondary school in the late 90s that I discovered my comic talent. For your information, I also have the talent of acting, singing directing and dancing. Eventually I settled for comedy because I noticed that Calabar market enjoys comedy.
ANY SOURCE OF MOTIVATION OR INSPIRATION?
My mum motivated me a lot because she invested so much in my talent. She saw it as something worth grooming and nurturing. However, there was a twist in my career as few years after gaining admission into the University, my parents did no longer fancy the idea of pursuing a career in comedy. With such challenges, I disappeared from the comedy scene. On my return to the industry, I came with ‘August Meeting’.
HOW FULFIL ARE YOU AS A COMEDIAN?
Comedy may not have taken care of all my needs, but it pays my bills. It gives me what to do. Queuing as a graduate to look for work is not a palatable experience. Today, comedy has given me an alternative. Let me use this opportunity to encourage other young minds to invest in purpose discovery.
ANY MOMENT OF REGRATE IN THE PROFESSION?
I have a philosophy which encourages me never to look back at my failures with regrate. Everything is for a purpose including my venture. If it did not work today, it will definitely work tomorrow, so that alone keeps me going. I have never regrated my calling in comedy. Even if I crack a joke on stage and people did not laugh, I waste no time in regrates, rather I improve on myself for the task ahead.
ANY ROLE MODEL?
(General laughter), well I have never been a fan of imitation so I don’t have anyone to call my role model in the comedy profession. From inception, I have always struggled to be myself with a unique identity. If you look at August Meeting, my personal event, I had to think out of the box for an extraordinary brand, such that when people see my hand bills, they will be forced to ask themselves what exactly does he have to offer? With my event name alone, it keeps you wondering the kind of content and all that. But this is deliberate as it makes you outstanding among the crowd. I have been cracking my head for three years and counting cooking something delight able for my teeming supporters. The product of the brain cracking is ‘August Meeting.’ The theatricality brought to bear in my show is with a view to positively impacting the society. Like in 2019, our emphasis was on ‘feminism, rape and child molestation; All the characters in the show dramatically interpreted the theme. This particular episode was mind blowing as my audience members are yet to recover from the superlative show. My popularity increased from then on, as most people easily identify me when I introduce myself as the CEO of August Meeting. In a nutshell, I have nobody to call a role model as I create during my quite times.
WORD OF ADVICE FOR YOUNG COMEDIANS
I encourage the younger breeds to show love to the seniors in the business because life is about reciprocity. Your senior colleague can only remember you when you are constantly in touch with him or her.