•People Laugh More When I Crack Vulgar Jokes
• I Am Starting a Gospel Nightclub –It’s for Believers

Lilliputian but quintessential, he’s a smooth, sweet talker. Always dressed to the nines, he cuts a figure of a movie mogul. He’s one of the biggest comedians on the continent of Africa. He can even sing – and dance. He lights up shows and cracks up ribs. An indefatigable, inventive entertainer, successful and blessed with a happy home, he seems unstoppable. Julius ‘the Genius’ Agwu, Nigeria’s impeccable comic entertainer, knows how to live life to the fullest. But in a twist of unfortunate events, the comedian now sees life in a whole different light. In a flashback, he recalls how he was wheeled into a hospital after suffering a life-threatening seizure at a location. Shortly after, he was pronounced dead and the hospital wanted to put away his body in a mortuary. How did he survive that ‘death’? What anguish did he suffer in the hands of ‘contractor pastors’? Agwu speaks with Adedayo Adejobi about all these and more. And guess what? The rib-cracker master has come with a new one: a gospel nightclub –but, did he say it’s only for believers?

The inspiration behind my book, ‘Jokes Apart’ started as a Joke
As a matter of fact, now I know how I got here. It can only be God because when it was titled, I didn’t know God was the one titling the book. But I thank God that (it) is my first book and it was unveiled on my 40th birthday – 7th April, 2013. It was edited by Toni Kan and Peju. It is actually an inspirational aspect of my life right from birth until I attained 40 and I’m actually working on another one named, ‘Life as I see it’; that will be more like a sequel to ‘Jokes Apart’ how did I get here? Life as I see it is the process that I passed through: my encounter with death and my resurrection; that is what I call it. I call it the ‘The birth’ – the rebirth of Julius Agwu. It is also another inspirational story of God’s glory in my life and the whole idea is for people to understand that my perception of life has changed and this is the ‘reborn’ Julius Agwu.

Life began after 40
After I turned 40 – when my first book was unveiled – I decided that, as they say, life begins at 40, so I started trying to work out, look good because my business is show business and I need to show for the business to come. So I decided to work on myself, keep fit and all that. That was when I realised that I was shrinking. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. There were different distresses. They weren’t natural any more. I decided to embark on getting closer to God and you know that there are so many contractor pastors all over now, even as I was facing the medical challenge, there is also the spiritual angle to it. So, I decided that it would be necessary as well to look unto God. While you are also looking unto God, you need to know that the same God created the doctors and other medical professionals.

My grouse with contractor pastors pushed me to Bible School
I would have medical doctors rather than pastors, so-called pastors – some who think that God called them, while God didn’t even flash them. But right now, the level of anointing and grace upon my life and the best thing that happened to me is that I heeded to that call to attend a Bible School.

I was pronounced dead but God brought me to life
Say if you don’t know, you don’t know. And the Bible says my people perish for lack of knowledge and that was exactly my case and the case of so many billions of people out there. This thing called knowledge, we need to acquire it; not every educated person is truly educated. I would just allow it because they say prayer (prescription) has no overdose. Even as Adeboye is Daddy G.O, people still pray for him. I mean every pastor needs someone who backs him up with prayers. I didn’t know of this until I was shooting my series titled, ‘The vendor’, and I was playing the lead character ‘Joe’ and the way the vendor has been shaped. The way I created the story is about the story of Joseph, and the ‘Jeo’ there represents me as well. I know there’s something special about ‘J’, Jesus, Julius, Joseph. So I am the voice of the voiceless in the vendor. He (the vendor) is a graduate; after he finished from school, no work. In our present society where people are looking for jobs, it was the practical re-enactment of the character of ‘J’ which was also somehow the person of me. So, this guy is a vendor and sells newspapers, disseminating information, free readers come there to stay and talk, which is what happens in Nigeria. How do we use those talks for positive change in our society? So, that’s who I am. I want to deal with topical issues, societal ills, see how I can, at least, try and be didactic. I happen to be the executive producer; it is under my production company, ‘Reel laif’. The day after the shoot, 7th April, my birthday again, that was the day we finished shooting ‘The Vendor’. God has always been there for me. My wife told me everything because I had a terrible seizure and I was rushed to the hospital. By the time I got there, I was in coma. The doctor tried everything to bring me back, I wasn’t coming back. At some point, the doctor gave up and asked my wife to call my elder sister. She happens to be the general manager in my company. She called her, the doctor spoke with her and said, ‘Listen, we have tried everything to bring (back to life) your brother but he is not coming back, and according to report, since he is not coming back, let’s put him in mortuary.’ My sister told the doctor that it was not God’s report. So they started prayers in the fellowship.

Agwu, Ibiere, Zahra and Zadok

I remembered in the spiritual realm that I was seeing dead people in the past and my dad was telling me to go back. Then I came back and when I came back, I was more like a vegetable. I lost my memory. I couldn’t recognise my wife and everybody, but I have different men of God who prayed for me until I got a bit strong. Then I told my wife that we had to go and check the root of the thing. That was how we flew abroad. We went to Texas (in the US). That was where we had different tests. Scan results revealed that I had three tumours in my brain. The doctor had to advise an emergency surgery, which was carried out. The one behind here (points to head) was the size of a golf ball; that is the one that was removed and that is why I have this new look to cover the scars. And then there were still two remaining. Another stage of the whole challenge was checking if they were cancerous. We entered into prayer; we never stopped. It was another miracle. At the end of the day, they said thank God, they were not malignant. So I have been on heavy medication that is why you noticed my dark face. If I did not tell you that I had a brain surgery, you won’t know. This is me; I’m a living testimony that God truly works. I tell people that Satan works in mysterious ways and God works in miraculous ways. I told my own story first. I did a song called, ‘Second chance’; it is a thanksgiving song to God. It is just to thank him for this rare privilege of a second chance, and I had a show on 7th of February that I called ‘life as I see it’, because my perception of life has changed. My perception of life now is that this life is not our own. If you don’t hold unto God, the author and finisher of our faith, the one who gave us the life in the beginning first, the one who, just by words only, spoke life to existence. People only remember you in a moment. When you are gone, you have faded, that is what life is about. So, it was a very difficult time for me, but it is a covenant I have with God. I decided to use every platform to glorify him, to promote him, so it doesn’t really matter. So far as it is the story of God’s glory in my life, and it must impact on one of you people. We should learn to always give because in giving comes receiving.

Striking a balance between entertainment and Christianity
How I have struck a balance is, first, let us start with the fact that I was part of the presenters at the last ‘Headies’. My very good friend, Ayo Animashaun; he is my brother. We went to the World Cup together. We were at the Grammys two years ago; at times I’m part of his presenters. So I had to come back from America to be part of the award presenters, the category I presented was with Elblis, because it has to do with the Best Rapper of the Year, and behold it was won by MI and I made a statement. I said one of the reasons why I like MI is the fact that he must always pray first before climbing the stage. Balance is the fact that, primarily, I am an entertainer. I found the new love in God but that does not stop the entertainer that I am. It is just that it has made me to realise that there are certain jokes I shouldn’t say any more. I can talk about the negativity and at the end of the day, the triumph of good over bad, because that is who I am and before now I have always said it to my colleagues that it is not just joke for joke’s sake. There are jokes in the Bible; that book of life. We need to always remember God in everything we do because He gave us the talent.

My new calling
I am saying that God chooses whom he wants to use. My point is, God can let you know where you are coming from. Joseph faced so many challenges, but it never stopped his vision. I have a saying, my personal saying, wise saying, I say: ‘Never allow your mission to becloud your vision’. I give thanks to God, which is necessary. Now, for instance, most of the songs I do, even before now, I don’t curse. Agreeably, I have done one or two vulgar jokes before, depending on my audience. The way devil structured this thing is that people laugh more to vulgar jokes.

Carrying out the calling
I’m not looking at that. One thing I did as soon as I had this encounter, I started a fellowship. I spoke to Basketmouth, Bovi, and some of my colleagues, and I got my personal keyboardist. I started using my house, the second and the third, even when I had another seizure and I had to travel out, I still told them, ‘even if I am not there, you guys should always meet.’ It is called CEO (Christian Entertainers Outreach). God has not told me to do that. As I said, I started that CEO and I want to open a gospel club, night club, it won’t just be a night club, it is going to be a lounge, and I am working on it. Believers do not have alternatives. There have to be alternatives for believers. There is something I do on a daily basis on Instagram; it is called Julius Agwu Daily Inspiration. It is inspirational messages that I send. And then what I do now, I speak in churches to youths, to people.

My marriage almost crashed
The best thing that has ever happened to me in this new faith is the fact that I am in a Bible school. In the midst of all this, my family comes first. It’s called life as I see it. Those things, they summarise life as I see it, which is my realisation that my perception of life has changed after this whole thing. At the end of the day, it is family first. My marriage almost crashed; for over two months I was living in a hotel.