Jacklean James is a comedian, a radio personality and a gospel artiste. He relayed his experience as a gospel comedian to DAYO EMMANUEL. According to him, the church has not seen comedians within the church as serious people, but would wait for them to make a name before willing to pay for their services. Excerpts:
When and how did you start comedy?
Comedy has always been part of me; I started talking to people, then they feel I was funny. It is God’s gifting, I didn’t learn it; the Bible says the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
What type of comedy do you do?
I do mature comedies; I bring comedy and fun out of any situation, it is just a natural thing with me.
Is there anything like Christian comedy as such?
If you say Christian comedy, comedy is comedy, there is nothing like that; you make comedy out of Christian issues, so if you search the scriptures, you find comedy, the Bible is complete. People have made comedy out of Bible stories that have gone out to bless their audience.
For instance, if Lot’s wife didn’t look back, she wouldn’t have become a pillar of salt. That is iodized salt if you don’t know, so people should not look back on whatever divine instructions they are given. You may not see that as a joke but a serious matter; it depends on you. Again, when Moses killed the Egyptian, was it upper cut he gave him or lower cut? You see, it is the occasion that determines what jokes you crack.
Do you think the church is supporting comedy at all?
The church actually doesn’t want to pay comedians. These guys are there on their own most of the time, they would not want to, except you already made a name, so they just bring you as another secular entity. So, if the church really believes in any congregation, they should not just say there should be a brother who can do it but after, they would just say let us put our hand together for brother XYZ without knowing such brother has responsibilities. If he is an entertainer why didn’t you (the church) support him? Why don’t you encourage him? The church mostly wouldn’t do that, instead they would criticise him that he is too expensive. My rent for instance, goes into several hundreds of thousand, how many churches among those I work for can I approach for assistance? They don’t see you as a serious person even after you render service to them.
Are you saying churches are stingy?
Yes. Churches mostly do not want to pay comedians, they see you as one of those funny guys around, they would say God bless you. I don’t see it as comedy alone now; I see it as total entertainment. It is interwoven.
How did you evolve?
Since the advent of Ali Baba, Teju Baby Face, Basorge, Basket Mouth and others, young people want to be like them. They want to be comedians; they want to be seen as funny. It is not you that should say you are funny or that you are a comedian; it is the people that should discover that. There are many comedians I can say are dry, mentioning them would amount to tarnishing their image, but they know, only that they won’t want to accept. Comedy is beyond being a funny person. These days, people have to be able to differentiate between a comedian and a compere. For instance, I have a band; I would have loved to perform every time, but how many people want to part with their money? Today, there are no live bands like before; it is all at preaching the gospel, appreciating God. How much did I pay for waking up today? Though that is not to say comedians should not be well paid; I plan events, I do printing, I used to run a salon, I do makeup, massaging and the likes, all that makes me a man of many parts.