By Florence Amagiya
She is not just one of the leading female stand-up comedians in Nigeria today, but also the co-host of Jara; a leading Mnet series talk show, a business woman who sells and loves fabrics of every kind. Despite her tight schedule, Helen Paul still create time for her husband and her child, just like a good house wife that she tries to be.
Her style of comedy is so strong that she can even mimic different characters at the same time. In this interview, she talks about her inspiration in stand-up comedy; her latest role in the movie titled ‘A wish’ and acting as an added profession. Enjoy!!!
What comes to your mind when you set out to make people laugh?
For me, comedy is fun; it is a way to let out stress and anxiety. And when l am on stage I think about life, people, environment and all there is to think about. I would say all these thoughts of mine enable me to put smile on people’s face. Comedy is a job I enjoy doing and I get paid doing it.
Tell us a little bit of your childhood; was any of your parent a comedian?
Well, I didn’t have a comedian for a parent or siblings or even members of my extended family. I am from a very strict and disciplined environment and we all know that Nigerian parents are very strict, so it wouldn’t have being easy knowing l had comedy in me back then.
So how did comedy discover you?
I grew up in Nigeria and living in Nigeria is comical. Each time I think about our country, Nigeria and all the happenings, it is enough to turn one into a comedian. I get inspired when l fused all these together. For example, you visit a home in Victoria Garden City (VGC) and take another stroll to a home in Mushin, Lagos.
You would notice that apart from being two different homes, locations and life styles; Life in Mushin which is seen as one of the ghetto area is considered comical because of the funny happenings. In the ghettos, ‘you do not need an alarm clock to wake you up each morning because there are mosques around to do that for you or the holy brother filled with the holy spirit preaching with a large mega phone’.
You have being known to mimic the voice of a child during your comedy, how have you managed it?
I love children so much, l also enjoy listening and playing with them. I get a lot of inspiration from the Nigerian child. It gives me great joy being around children; they are open, innocent, easy to love and ready to learn. Moreover my best movies are cartoons!
Tell us about your journey so far…
I started as a stand-up comedian, then I went for Jara audition and got the job and co- hosting with me on Jara is Uti Nwachukwu, the winner of BBA, 2010. Presently l am trying my hands on screen plays.
Tell us a little about your latest role in the movie titled ‘A wish’ which is being premiered in the cinemas?
The character I played in the movie titled A wish is a comical character, yet a serious one. Kemi was diagnosed of breast cancer; the story is how she was abandoned by her husband because of her sickness and how she struggled to travel to Lagos with her only child because she wanted help and she succeeded at the end.
Have you ever played a serious role in a movie?
Yes! I acted a serious role in Funke Akindele’s movie ‘the return of Jenifer’ and believe me, it wasn’t a funny role. As a good actor, you should be able to enter any character. If you are known to act only one part then something is wrong with your skills.
Do you also assume a funny character when you are at home?
Comedy is my job; it is where I get my daily bread from, but it is not my life. At home, I am a disciplined person, but l am more or less a sanguine outside my home. I am a professional actress; l read Creative Arts in the University and went further to obtain a masters degree in it, but like I said it is a profession. You should be seen differently in your home.
What are we expecting from you; do you have in mind to own Helen’s show?
Please expect so much by the grace and strength of the Almighty God, but at the moment, l do not have plans to have my own show. I am enjoying working for other people. Perhaps in future l may reconsider it.
You have a unique sense of dressing; are you planning to become a designer?
I am not branching into designing at all, but I have where I sell fabrics, the name is Matte , I sell fabrics for wedding gowns, aso oke and the others. I love fabrics and I sell all kinds of fabrics.
You had a baby more than a year ago, yet you look this fabulous, what’s the secret?
I had my baby more than a year ago and yes I am yet to burn all the telltale signs of the pregnancy; my tummy is still big, but perhaps I look this way because I am a careful person. Meanwhile, I think getting help from family after the birth of a child is very important and as it is my own mum is still available to give me a helping hand and I am forever grateful to her.
What’s your form of exercise and your fashion statement?
I dance a lot, that’s the only exercise I do. As for fashion statement, I am an actor, hence l can wear anything, but the only thing I cannot be caught wearing on stage is a napkin or what we call pampas.
Why would anybody expect you to wear Pampas on stage?
You asked me what l cannot wear on stage and l have told you what I cannot wear on stage, but other than that l can wear anything as a professional actress.
Your advice to would- be entertainers
Keep doing what you enjoy doing; do not mind what anybody say to you or about you. Get mentors and the sky is the beginning. It is really difficult to get someone who would mentor you especially when you are about going into the business the mentor is doing. I met someone who mentored me when l was about starting my own business and I am grateful she did.
What would you be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for having so many children; they do not necessarily have to be all biological and adopted children, but they should be people l have affected their lives one way or the other. I want to have wonderful children all over the world. I want my children to affects lives everywhere in the world. I want to have touched so many lives. But it is not yet the time; I am getting there, in the next 60-70 years, I would have gotten there.
Where in Nigeria are you from?
Comrade Oshomole is my Governor! I am from Edo state, an insan by tribe, but l am married to a Yoruba guy. l speak fluent Yoruba, so most times you hear me speak the Yoruba language in my comedy.