The expression, “there is ability in disability’ doesn’t ring any truer for any other person than Nigeria’s superstar comedian, Kelly Blind.
Born Kelly Igberhi, the star humour merchant who hails from Sapele local government area of Delta State has made a name for himself in the blossoming comedy sector of the entertainment industry despite being blind.
Though destiny has denied him the power of sight, Kelly has refused to be an object of pity by taking on life, turning his blindness into an asset to the envy of not only the sightless but the sightly as well. Hear his story:
How did your journey into the comedy business begin?
I started comedy professionally in 2009 with the AY Comedy Open Mic Challenge. Since winning the competition, it has been success all the way for me in the show business. Also, I’ve performed in all kinds of comedy shows in Nigeria, like the Nite of a Thousand Laughs , AY comedy Show, Stand up Nigeria, amongst others.
But what really brought me to Lagos was my education because there is a school for the blind in Lagos where I studied music, typing, mobility, handcraft and many other things,. The school is called Nigeria Farm Craft Centre for the Blind.
How has life been for you generally?
Everything has been good, and life has been very interesting.
Do you have any project you are working on at present?
I have a lot of projects I’m currently working on. First of all, I just unveiled a foundation sometime this year called ‘’Inner Eye Foundation”.
It’s strictly for people living with disability, especially those that have talents and wish to showcase them. This is because I believe that disability is a thing of the mind. So if the government is not ready to help, we should come out to help ourselves. That is the idea behind the foundation and it is owned by me.
What else do you do besides comedy?
I’m into music because I also learnt music then in the school. Right now, I’m planning on how to work on my gospel album.
How exactly did you discover you have a talent for comedy?
They say any child that was born and brought up in Warri is a comedian. The truth is that when I was in the school for the blind whenever I talked, most of my colleagues would tell me to go to either AY or Alibaba’s show and perform.
There was a day I went to a friend’s house and there was a comedy show on TV and I thought that the comedians were not that funny and I believed I could do better.
I told my friend to help me copy the numbers on the screen, because there was an advert placed by AY for those who were talented in comedy to come for auditioning.
So when I called AY he gave me his address. Meanwhile, he didn’t know that the person talking to him was blind. We talked normally. I went to his office alone and when I got there I met the receptionist. She asked me to sit down but I didn’t know where to sit and the receptionist never knew that I didn’t know where the seat was, so I simply used my guide stick to locate the seat and sat down
When AY came out to look for the person that was waiting for him he had to go back because he was expecting me to approach him. I was right in front of him and he was looking at me but I was looking in another direction because when I called him on phone, I didn’t tell him I was a blind person and I didn’t act like a blind person to the receptionist too .
After standing there for a long time, AY went back to his office and after a short time I went back to the receptionist and asked if she had told AY that someone wanted to see him. The receptionist was surprised and went back to inform AY that I was still waiting for him.
AY told her that he was just coming from the reception and that he met one guy who acted as though he didn’t come to see anyone. When AY came back, the receptionist now called me and said this is AY. Immediately, I jumped up and started calling AY, looking in another direction while AY was right in front of me.
He then tapped me and said. “What do you want me to do for you?”. I told him I wanted to participate in the comedy auditioning. AY then said, “Na wa o! How will you know that people are laughing or angry when you are cracking your jokes?” Anyway, he saw beyond my disability and gave me a form of N3000 for free. He said, “I won’t ignore you or deprive you of this opportunity so that tomorrow you won’t say it’s AY who killed your career”. He also gave me transport fare when he learnt that I came alone.
How did the audition go?
On the day of the audition I met over 90 people. When people saw me, they were surprised that even a blind man came for the audition. The whole thing was funny and the rule was that you don’t crack someone else’s joke. The judges included Alibaba, Julius Agwu and others. At the end of the audition I emerged the first among 90 contestants and that was my most memorable experience.
That day, I had the opportunity to meet the movers and shakers of the comedy industry and also got endorsed into the industry. Prior to that day, I had never presented myself as a comedian. It was indeed a memorable experience for me.
What has been your experience in the industry since then?
I’ve had a good experience. I will say the challenges so far are not really challenges because it has been so good. Some upcoming comedians will say they face a lot of challenges while coming up, but I never had any serious challenges.
What was your growing up like?
I actually lost my sight through measles, at the age of 11. I was in Junior Secondary School Two (J.S.S 2) then. When it started my parents had to take me to a hospital in Enugu where I did a test, yet there was no result.
They later took me to churches for so many years and yet there was no result. At a point I started thinking that a time will come when everybody would be blind. Because I just couldn’t believe it was just me.
Growing up was fun in the sense that the children around me didn’t sideline me. I wasn’t side-lined but carried along. My father never pitied me for once and he never looked down on me too. He trained me the way he trained my other siblings. I wasn’t restricted from any house chores, that has really helped me a lot as it has helped in building my future.
Has blindness helped you in being creative?
Yes, because when I found myself in this situation, what I did was to make myself productive. So I believe to an extent, my being blind has really helped me in being creative.
Which of your senses helps you most, is it your sense of touch, smell or hearing?
I identify people mostly by their voice.
Would you say blindness has been a blessing to you or a curse?
It has been a blessing to me. Even many comedians now wish to be blind like me. So today I don’t regret being blind, because it has really brought many good things to me.
As a blind man, do you crave for women?
Of course, because I’m also human like every other person.
What qualities do you admire in women?
I don’t like fat girls, I like them slim and tall. But right now, I don’t have any woman in my life. I like women that are accommodating, tolerant and God-fearing. I don’t like women who are not straightforward.
What has your experience been like with women?
There was this lady I was dating and one day I needed to go to bank to withdraw some money. Usually, whenever I want to withdraw money from the bank, I use my thumbprint. On that particular occasion, I wanted to withdraw N20,000. So I asked the lady to help me fill the withdrawal slip so I could thumb print and the amount I told her to write was N20,000, but she wrote N40, 000. When we got to the cashier who was very friendly with me, she said, “It seems you want to enjoy yourself this weekend “, to which I replied “Is it just N20,000 that I would use to enjoy this weekend.
Then she said “No, it’s N40,000 that is written on the slip”. I was surprised, but in order not to make the lady feel bad, I had to lie to the cashier that I forgot that it’s actually N40,000 I asked her to write. When she collected the money from the cashier she gave me the N40,000 and left me angrily. That was how our relationship ended .
How do you handle your female admirers?
I just admire them and appreciate the fact that they enjoy what I’m doing.
What makes you unique as a comedian?
What makes me unique is that I have my own kind of jokes, which no other comedian can do. You must be blind to do my kind of joke. So before you do my kind of joke, you have to attribute it to me.
How do you enjoy yourself?
I enjoy myself mostly with the people around me; those that make me feel important.
How’s your relationship with your colleagues?
My relationship with them is very cordial. Especially AY, my father, Alibaba the ancestor in comedy, Okey Bakassi among others. When we meet in shows, we relate very well.
Besides showbiz, what else are you into?
I intend to become a broadcaster. My programme will soon commence, it’s called “Better Naija”. It’s for people living with disabilities because they are being treated as third class citizens of this country. I’m standing up to speak for them, because in this present government we’ve not really enjoyed anything and we are being denied things and sidelined because of our disabilities.
How do you relax?
I’m the kind of person that loves having fun and I go to clubs to relax myself. I can tell you the number of clubs in Lagos, because there is no bouncer in Lagos clubs who doesn’t know me, especially on the Island. I dance very well too. If you were looking at me with pity before, when you see me dancing at the club, you won’t pity me again. (Laughs).