One of Ghana’s most relevant standup comedians, Derrick Kobbina Bonney, known in showbiz circles as DKB, looks back and says his violent encounter with Zainab, of the Big Brother fame, turns out to be a blessing that now makes him soar in the fledgling comedy business in the country. In a recent encounter, DKB bares it all out as he said the event that brought them together has upped his popularity, both in both local and international scenes.
Starting off his career during his school day at the University of Ghana, DKB, despite the challenges he faced during his early days of comedy, seems to be gradually growing into a strong brand.
Despite being tagged as not being gifted with comedy, DKB, is unperturbed as he believes he has become a force to reckon with, in Ghana’s comedy world.
Here, DKB discusses his career and the wish to get married soon with Weekend Sun.
Where did the journey of comedy begin?
As a child, they always showed excerpts of the “nights of laughs” on Television and I was an ardent fan of that program, sometimes thinking I could do better than the comedians. So, I always had that feeling until I got to the University of Ghana.
In my first year, in commonwealth hall, they organised the “Jimi Competition,” to wit “joke competition”. During one of the editions, I didn’t know they had even started till I chanced upon the event at the food fairgrounds inside the University of Ghana campus.
So, I pleaded with the MC to give me the Microphone so I could do freestyle. But he told me the winner of the competition had already been announced and so there was no need. I insisted that I wasn’t there for the competition but just wanted to do freestyle, and so he gave me the microphone and everybody seemed pleased with my performance.
From that point, people started advising me to pursue comedy because they felt I did an excellent job on that night even though I was not sure because I was a B.Sc. Agriculture student. To me, I deserved better than being a joker and I then looked at the likes of KSM, the strides he made in comedy and then felt there was something in comedy. I there and then decided to pursue comedy. So from then it was stage after stage till today.
So, basically for you, it was more of a chosen career path rather than a calling?
It was a calling that turned to a career. Calling because I didn’t know I had that talent until it manifested on that night, then I decided to do it and turned it into a profession.
How best would you describe yourself?
I’m that comedian who doesn’t hold barriers. When I’m performing, I don’t hesitate to go the extra mile and make it real. Whenever I have to mimic an individual, I try to make it as real as possible.
Is there anybody you look up to?
Yes. In Ghana, I look up to KSM and in Africa I look up to Basket mouth and Trevor Noah. Trevor Noah, because his content appeals to individuals from all parts of the world or different races and Basket Mouth, for the West African vibe. Internationally, I would say Eddie Griffin because he is my type, he holds no barriers. Overall, I would say Richard Pryor.
Now, some Ghanaians would like to see you as an actor rather than a comedian because they think you are not real. How does that make you feel?
I feel like one day those people would watch me perform and I would discipline them, no mercy.
I only believe in action. Whatever they say, I don’t care. Just see me on stage and you would disgrace yourself. It has happened to a lot of people who thought that way.
Discipline in what sense?
I would discipline you, I would disgrace you in the sense that you would laugh and lose control and whoever you had told I was not funny now would see you disgraced. I have done it to countless people. During the “night of a 1018 laughs,” people even had a bet that I was not going to pull one laughter but on that night I was voted the best performer and all this people who were saying negative things about me got themselves to blame.
So for me, if you say anything funny about me, I don’t worry at all because when I am on stage we would see where the power lies. I always prove them wrong. So I don’t engage in banter at all about being funny.
So, do you see yourself as competitor with some of the big comedians in Africa like Basketmouth?
I was a strong competitor with Basketmouth, after “The Lord of the Ribs,” as the best performer of the night. So, I think I am already competing with him.
Don’t you think it’s because the competition took place in Ghana?
But it’s the same Ghana where three years ago they were saying there is no hope for us. It was even harder as a Ghanaian comedian with a Ghanaian audience.
The Nigerian comedy industry is a very strong one; do you think we would get to that point in Ghana where the Comedy Industry would be that strong?
Yes, I mean that’s what development brings. It brings good standards of living and it brings a future. Before now creativity in Ghana was a reserve for dropouts but here we are, creativity is being pursued by graduates, and with that professional touch, it pays. Nigeria has nurtured its comedy industry.
Its more than 30 years and they are still strong. The truth is that the more developed the industry becomes, the more the opportunities that will be available. And in Ghana, we are getting there gradually. Nigerian comedy is a Masters Degree holder while Ghana’s is still in Kindergarten. We have a long way to go.
What do you think would help foster this growth?
First of all, I would say, the government because you cannot proceed without the nod from the government. Structures like National Theatre and the International Conference Centre should be made accessible for creative events, especially comedy shows. If it’s accessible, there would be more shows and the comedians would in turn develop and more would be discovered.
But if one has to go through hell to get Ghana’s own national theatre to organise a show, just a few would be made a reality. Comedy is the new thing. You would realise that most of the commercials that breakthrough, often have a touch of comedy. The corporate organisations have started capitalising on the comedy niche, which is good.
It’s high time the corporate world needed to start looking at comedy as a means to help them break ground, unlike other areas like music. The comedy space is so wide that your brand would get so much mileage when you use it to reach out to your target. There aren’t many comedians in Ghana, so if you position your product there, you would get a lot of mileage.
Are there other talents you would love to develop in the coming years?
I am MC, host, a model, I’m basically a Jack of all trades.
But you don’t sing?
I used to rap. I did a song with a Nigerian comedian Hogan. So I have a music acumen. I’ve produced some songs, I write raps for musicians as well. It’s one side that I don’t want to tap too much though.
Is there a possibility that sometime in the future we would see an album or a single from you?
It depends on how ticklish I would feel at that time. Maybe if I get married, have kids and all seriousness sets in. No one wants his father to be a rapper, so I doubt.
What are some of your fears?
My biggest fear is rejection or having to go back to where comedy was a few years ago where people didn’t want to hear nothing of Ghanaian comedians.
What are some of your best moments as a comedian?
(Laughing) I would say “Lord of the Ribs,” when I received a standing ovation, “Night of 1018 laughs,” which I think was my biggest. All Ghanaians thought I would flop because of the preconceived notion about Ghanaian comedians, but at the end I got 82 percent of ratings.
Are you married?
Not yet, I’m still searching.
You are not even in a relationship?
If I say I’m still searching, I mean I am in a relationship but I’m still searching for that particular person. Sometimes there is a little more you are looking for. If the person lives up to expectation, why not? I’m not sure but if she lives up to expectations why not?
You know these days; we’ve been through a lot of relationship problems so sometimes you just want to be careful. You don’t want to make some horrible life decisions. I know and I believe she would be of good character and we would take it to the next step. I mean I need to get married in the next two years.
So do you have any kids?
I’m a Christian and I don’t believe in fornication produced babies. I believe you have to get married before engaging in such practices. All these things that go on these days, I’m against them. I’m a very strong Christian, I don’t believe in that.
The “SAGA” you were involved in, in the “Big Brother” house, how does it make you feel when you look back?
To me, it was an awkward blessing. Now, I think I am the most remembered Big Brother Housemate. In every edition I am remembered. So when I look back I feel like maybe it was an awkward way for me to be relevant. I see it as a weird blessing because even some of the winners have been forgotten but everybody remembers me.
The whole thing gave you bad press with people describing you as violent. And you think that was good for your career?
I have changed that impression. A lot of people now see me as a friendly and good person that I am. Everybody has their breaking point, so, the fact that you reach your breaking point doesn’t mean we should judge you by that.
Of course you live in your comfort zone but once in a while, you would get to your breaking point and get aggressive with people especially when you feel they are taking you for granted. You don’t understand till you get there. I didn’t know that was my breaking point until I got there. So, the fact that mine has been exposed doesn’t mean you should judge me.
Do you think Ghanaians were fair with the way they judged you?
Why not? I mean that’s what they had seen, so they had every right to judge me. I don’t hate them for not knowing who I truly was. They don’t have time, they judge by what they see and that was the part of me they saw. So I don’t fault them much. Now that has changed because they have seen a different me.
What do upcoming comedians need to know?
Comedy is a bit lucrative and you have to be very talented. You can’t just get into comedy because it’s for intelligent people. If you feel you are intelligent and funny, look out for comedy events and get involved, even if it’s free because that’s the sacrifice. Try to look at the funny side of every situation and before you know it, you are there. If you do a lot of “what ifs,” you won’t be there.