Nigerian entertainment industry is filled with talented and hardworking young men and women. This is one of the reason for the massive growth in the last 20 years. Many have combined comedy with being event MC. One of such is Meroyi Olusegun Matthew, also known as MC Tom. Ataaoja had an intriguing interview with MC Tom on how he has evolved in the business.
Ataaoja: Who is MC Tom?
MC TOM is a young man who hails from Okitipupa Local Government of Ondo state. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
Ataaoja: What inspired you to go into becoming an MC?
I will say diction, my charisma and creativity took me into the profession.
Ataaoja: You were known to be involved in student unionism as a student, one would expect you to have gone a step higher into activism. Why entertainment?
Unionism is about selfless service. That is you have to solve other people's problems. Entertainment also deals with solving problems by making events funny, lively and hilarious. It is the same target but in different areas. However, the experience of unionism is what gave me the courage to face crowd without being timid.
Ataaoja: What's the switch like?
Really, I don't see the difference. Because you are facing a crowd,providing solutions to challenges of life and also, giving hope to the weak and feeble minds.
Ataaoja: How has the job been? What is it like taking it on full time?
It has been wonderful. I said that because it is this job that I have being using to pay house rent and put food on the table for my family. It has it's own challenges though. For instance, when others are resting and hanging out with their families, that is my own working day. I tell people that weekends are my own Mondays and Tuesdays. Though there are days within the week that jobs come in but not up to the weekend numbers. Another golden aspect is that, it keeps your mind and brain working and thinking. If you want to be accepted and relevant, then, you must keep thinking and be creative.
Ataaoja: You have some comedy skit productions as well. Which one sells more for you?
In skits, creativity plays more role. it sells you more to prospective clients. As a professional, one has to stick with the job even at times when it's not paying as expected. One has to be patient. The success I am enjoying today didn't happen by magic. It is as a result of the pain I have endured in the past. To God be the glory.
That success is a mirage. An ideal success must be contagious. It is like a virus, itmust affect others around you. This is what I call success
Ataaoja: How do you get your clients and how do you rate your performance after every event?
(chuckles) How I get clients na grace o. But some come through referrals, some, I get through direct bookings with my manager. But grace of God above all.
Ataaoja: You have anchored events like marriages, reunion, concerts, to mention a few. What difference are those to corporate events?
It is the approach you adopt for each event that matters. If you are a professional, you must have done your personal home work, getting adequate information from the clients that hired you, you must know their expectations and act accordingly. Corporate event is simple and direct. All you need is to get the needed information, be spontaneous and ready to tweak at any time because changes may come on the job.
Ataaoja: How do you measure success?
As far as I am concerned, success is knowing that you have impacted lives of others and makde them better than the way you met them. Any success or successful person that does not have effect on others around him or her isn't successful. That success is a mirage. An ideal success must be contagious. It is like a virus, it must affect others around you. This is what I call success.
Ataaoja: How does your family react when you have to leave home for days to anchor events outside your location?
It is always a big war especially with my pretty daughter. But I have a way of compensating them and that is anytime I don't have an event, I am always at home with them. We play a lot. It is only my wife that likes to form seriousness. But talk of my daughter, she knows when I am around and the play must go on. Other times my events are around Lagos, I make sure they come with me to see and enjoy what others are enjoying. Also, so they can see how I make the money they are spending anyhow (laughs) .
Ataaoja: What is the aim of MC Tom Comedy Clinic? It has evolved from how it started to coaching classes and sessions.
You mean you follow the class without being part of it? You are missing greatly! Well, that online class started as a result of the passion and zeal to affect lives around me. There are so many things happening to people but they don't know how or with whom to share their pains. They end up making terrible mistakes. This forum has being, directly or indirectly, addressing such. At first, we started with things related to comedy only but as time went by, the vision was expanded and broadened. It then changed to an online coaching class where notable coaches and teachers, within and outside Nigeria, are brought in to address issues. Largely, it has been a success and blessing to members of the forum. We are not just members on that forum, we are a family operating under defined standards and obligations of making ourselves and the world a better place.
Q. What are your aspirations in the nearest future? We have seen your posters surface online that you're aiming to become a senator in one of Ondo or Lagos State.
(Laughs) You know the Bible says out of the abundant of the heart, the mouth speaks, according to Matthew chapter 12, verse 34. Also, remember I studied political science so politics runs in my system.The Aso Rock knows we are coming in the nearest future. But for now, entertainment is in charge.
Ataaoja: How do you see the comedy business in nearest future? We have seen so many comedians trying out other options like music, acting, corporate business and so on. For example Falz, Okey Bakassi, Ali Baba, Teju Baby face, to mention a few.
Comedy is surely a business. It is a business of passion and creativity. But, one thing we need to do in Nigeria to make comedy and art of programme anchoring grow is to institutionalize it. It should not be what anybody can zoom in and zoom out of as they will. There should be standard practice and modus operandi. Some people have abused the profession so much and that is why some clients take comedians and MCs for granted. Many clients offer us ridiculous fees for services. When there is a standard, the profession will be more respected. But that would be a topic for another time.When you are creative and operating under grace, this industry has a lot to offer you. As far as I am concerned, I am enjoying grace in this industry and I still see greater hope ahead.
Ataaoja: Is the comedy business/MC a lucrative one? Do you have people who understudy you?
As I said earlier, MC and comedy is a profitable and lucrative one if you are operating under grace, creative and spontaneous. In this business, you don't need to have godfather before you succeed. If you are good, those that need you will surely find you. And no force can stop you from succeeding. Be stubborn about success, be firm and be focused. I like the likes of Akpororo, Gordons and Bovi, who have done well for themselves in the industry. But I can't be like them because I have my own unique way of dropping punchlines on stage.
Ataaoja: What is your advice for young Nigerians especially the ones who are yet to decide on their future?
They should decide what they want for their lives and be ready to pay the price. Nothing good comes easy. Success is a process, itdoes not come by magic. With God, determination and insistence on success, they will get there and even go beyond their limit.
Ataaoja: Thank you for your time.
It is my pleasure. ÌBÀ FÚN ÉLEDÚÀ (meaning, homage to the Creator of man).
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