To most Nigerians who have been following his popular television talk show, Olateju Oyelakin, aka Teju Babyface, needs no introduction. Although he is widely known as the originator and host of The Teju Babyface Show, he is really a man of many parts.
At one time, Teju made waves as an actor and stand-up comedian. That was before he got tired of stage and television productions that yielded barely enough cash to keep body and soul together.
When he also got tired of making rib-cracking jokes and making other people to laugh, he had tried working as a master of ceremonies. Yet, whatever direction that the wind of survival blew, Teju’s natural sense of humour remained unwavering. This quality, the ability to provide maximum entertainment to his audience, has helped to shape the success of The Teju Babyface Show.
Interestingly, Teju confessed, in an interview with our correspondent, that he had to channel his energy into creating the talk show at a point when he no longer enjoyed earning a living as a stand-up comedian.
“The truth is that I have never known what I wanted to do with my life. But, there was a time when comedy was all that I wanted to do. That was when it was my bread and butter. I got to a point where I was no longer enjoying it as much as I used to do. Then an opportunity opened up for me and I started the talk show,” he said.
As if to silence his critics and comedy fans who, wondering why he dumped a thriving career for an ordinary TV talk show and had entertained doubts about his chances of succeeding, Teju’s new show became an instant hit in Nigeria and almost as soon as it came on air in 2010.
A few years later, precisely in 2014, The Teju Babyface Show suddenly went off the air for reasons that were best known to the producer at the time.
Explaining to our correspondent why he had to suspend the production of the show, Teju recounted his encounter with the director of a popular TV station in Kenya and how the meeting opened his eyes to certain facts about how independent TV programmes were being run in other parts of the world.
“I realised that a talk show, such as we do, was never designed to be produced by an independent producer. I felt that it was an anomaly. So we had to stop after a while and re-strategise.
“We decided that if we had to do the show ourselves and there was no television network that would take the proactive responsibility of investing in this kind of programme, and if all they want us to do is produce it and buy airtime; we had to sit down and plan properly. That was why we stopped,” he said.
One year after, Teju has been compelled by intense pressure from fans across Nigeria to resume the production of the talk show. “I guess we underestimated the impact that we were having on the viewers. We were getting a lot of phone calls from them and they were asking what happened to the show. We didn’t know that a large number of people were watching the show,” he said.
He has realised that if he could consistently produce the talk show for a period of time, eventually the impact on the viewers would make a way for him. One of the lessons that he has learnt is that most other countries in Africa are ahead of Nigeria in terms of television programming.