stand-up comedians in Nigeria are known by different names, but one
person chose to be called ‘Jesus Parrot’. He is Godwin Okhawere, a young
man whose real ambition is to become one of the greatest comedians that
ever lived on this side of the globe.
how he came about the pseudonym, ‘Jesus Parrot’, which somewhat
underlines his style of comedy, he says, “One day, I overheard two
people arguing on the premises of a church and one of them suddenly
screamed at the other, saying, ‘You talk too much, Jesus parrot!’
Everybody listening to the conversation laughed at this. Although I was
amused, too, the statement caught my attention and the import dawned on
me. Then I decided to adopt it as my stage name. I tested it at first
and it worked.”
colleagues, Okhawere did not embrace comedy for want of something better
to do. It happened naturally to him. The stand-up comedian, who is well
known among comedy fans for shaping his jokes around events recorded in
the Holy Bible, recalls that his foray into the highly competitive
humour business began in secondary school.
those days, I would stand in front of my class and entertain my
classmates with rib-cracking jokes,” he says, in an interview with our
at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos, it occurred to him that it
would cost him nothing to talk and make other people happy. That was
when he finally realised that comedy was his calling.
remembers the late Mama Ajasco, mostly for encouraging him to take a
university degree. “Mama Ajasco inspired me to go back to school. She
wanted me to become a successful comedian like Ali Baba. She believed
that higher education would make me different. I listened to her,” he
elusive Universities Matriculation Examination and got admitted to the
University of Benin. Eventually, it turned out that Mama Ajasco was
right, if not prophetic. Tertiary education did not just expand his
horizon as an individual; it sharpened his wit.
graduating from UniBen and completing the one-year national youth
service, Okhawere naturally returned to Lagos and to what he loves doing
best: spinning rib-cracking jokes, as he calls it.
claims that he broke an old jinx by taking comedy to the church. At
first, he performed in the church where he worshipped every Sunday. But
the response from the congregation was anything but encouraging. Comedy,
he explains, was not well received by many Christians at the time and
comedians were generally regarded as jesters.
the comedian’s ‘pioneering’ effort seems to have given birth to a new
style of comedy and nowadays, most fans refer to him as a gospel
comedian and not as a stand-up comedian. But he sees nothing wrong with
that. “People call me gospel comedian because they see the Jesus in my
style of comedy. As a matter of fact, I source 80 per cent of my jokes
from the Bible,” he says.