Saturday, September 12, 2020

I Cracked Jokes To Pay My School Fees In The University--- Chuks D’ General


Israel Chukwunyem Jude popularly known by his stage name “Chuks D’ General” is acknowledged by many people as the biggest Abuja–based comedian in Nigeria. He is a Stand-Up comedian, Master Of Ceremony (MC), an event strategist, radio presenter, and an actor. In this interview with TOPFLYERS MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL as Celebrity of the Month (September, 2020), the graduate of Statistics from Nassarawa State University, Keffi, narrates how he has grown from grass to grace through diligence, hard-work, persistence, people’s support and the Almighty power of God.


Pleasantries: The General himself. You are most welcome to Topflyers Magazine Exclusive Session.

Thank you Topflyers Magazine for the honour.

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Israel Chukwunyem Jude and the Chukwunyem is “Chuks”. I believe I want to be a general in my field so I am “Chuks D’ General”. I am a Stand-Up comedian, Master Of Ceremony (MC) and an event strategist because I have my own events and my event is called “Generally Speaking with Chuks D’ General”. I am also a media personnel. Furthermore, I am from Ika-North Local Government Area, Delta-State. I was born and bred there and I also attended primary and secondary in Delta State. Sequel to my secondary school education, I attended Nassarawa State University, Keffi and that was what brought me to the Northern part of the country.

What was your course of study in the university?

I studied Statistics as my first degree course.

So what brought you to the comedy industry when you could have chosen to practice what you studied in school?

The truth is, talent for me is a natural thing that keeps driving one’s passion until one gives that passion an opportunity. I have an inbuilt talent for works involving Events Hosting/master of ceremony (MC-ing) but I did not know early enough and that is why I am keen on making sure young people know their talents atleast between JSS1-JSS3. I knew of my talent in High school (SS3) after my West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and I was already in science class. When I realized I could MC programmes, I had to go to the university to study statistics, a course that could help me train my brain and my thinking ability so I can bring it back into the community. Summarily, I did not discover my talent in time and that is the reason I studied statistics.

How long have you been in the industry?

Interesting (smiles). I am going to divide the answer to this question in phases. First, I will tell you when I discovered I could do what I do and second, I will answer when I started doing it professionally. Before now, I represent my school in quizzes and debates but I have been a lover of humour and comedy. Something in me likes to watch people do comedy and I make people laugh at home. So we went to a particular debate where I represented my school in SS3 and I came out second in the debate. We went to the local government level and I came out 3rd position. Next, we went to the federal level thinking they would need the first, second and third students in the hierarchy of good performance at the initial levels to participate at the federal level. However, they only needed the first and second position students and I was the third position so I got there and wasn’t needed so at the point where I wasn’t needed, I had to wait for the first and second position to participate. Immediately the debate was over, the organizers said students who came out third position could perform anything so I came out and tried comedy for the first time and it was "Wow". Although my school didn’t achieve a very good result in the debate but for me that did comedy that I didn’t plan, I became first position. Thereafter, my friends called me and were like, you can do it; you can make people laugh. So I started making my friends laugh deliberately and when I got to the university, I faced comedy consciously. I started comedy professionally in 2014 when I got to Abuja while doing my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC). However, I was already doing comedy non-professionally in the university as at 2006 although I discovered I could do comedy in 2005. I used money gotten from jokes to sponsor myself all through my university so I was cracking jokes to pay my school fees.

So how has the business of comedy been for you so far?

Waoh! (Smiles). It has been good; it has been a gradual process from one phase to another so I can say there has been a deliberate growth from one phase to another and I thank God for it. It has not been very easy. If I am to tell you the full story from one state to another, you will understand and agree with me that it has not been very easy.

How was your growing up like?

I grew up in Ika-North Local Government Area, Delta-State. After my primary school, while I was attending secondary school, my parents couldn’t afford to pay my school fees anymore so my mom had to start trading and I joined her. I started hawking while my mum would trade in the market before we came back from school. Once we returned from school, I would go to the market to assist her.

What were you trading?

She was selling plates, knives and spoons. So we sold shoes while my mum also sold plates and knives. I practically carried the plates, spoons and knives to hawk. When I carry these things round the market to hawk or sell, I added humour to it. I would hold the spoon then tell people, (speaks in pidgin) “even if your food no sweet if you take this spoon "chop" am  e go sweet” meaning "If you were eating a food with bad taste, using this spoon I sell to eat it will make it taste delicious". This was the phrase I used and how I was able to market what I was hawking. Thankfully, we got higher patronage and my mum would be very happy because her shop was in a bad location because she was not an indigene of that place and customers don’t go there. When I carried the knife to sell and told people, “If you use this knife cut meat, the meat go sweet”, people just liked me as a small boy cracking jokes and they would just buy knives for 50 or 100 naira (NGN Currency) and that was how I was selling until I finished my secondary school. My university life was also another story. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes my parents would pay my fees, other times they couldn’t pay. So I had to sometimes do humour and comedy on campus just to make ends meet. Fortunately for me, in my 200 level I was appointed the Director of Socials in Student Union Government (SUG). With that, I became a spotlight even when I wasn’t an indigene of that place but God just showed me favour.

Interviewer adds: Amazing! We are really enlightened about this touching yet inspiring explanation and we are certain our readers would feel same.

Chuks D' General

So how did you arrive at Abuja?

I went to Abuja after my university Education. The story of my early beginning here in Abuja wasn’t interesting too. This is because, people didn’t know me nor believed in what I did. I started pushing my way gradually. Sometimes, I felt, because I am not that tall and look smallish, people looked down on me in events. Moreso, because my name “Chuks D’ General” sounds big, people are always expecting a big statured person. I remember going to MC a wedding programme and the father of the groom was looking for the MC. I went to him and said, “Sir, I am the MC”. He looked at me and said, “My friend, we are not doing child dedication here. It is a wedding. It is when the couple give birth you can come as an MC, not this event” (laughs). It was quite embarrassing. I struggled to MC events. I remember doing my first event in 2016 but couldn’t get a sponsor. No one believed in me then until a certain man, the Managing Director of Eskimo gave me one million naira. Not withstanding, God has been my strength.

I was behind the scene for a long time. Before comedian AY even knew me as a comedian, I used to help run around in cleaning chairs to organize his programme. Initially I think AY must have thought I was just an errand boy because I was behind the scene, cleaning chairs, arranging event centres and carrying tables for him. When I finally became exposed to the theatrics of the industry, organizing my own shows didn’t give me any problem. I learnt them serving AY, Seyi Law, Allibaba and some of my senior colleagues.

How did you come about the name “Chuks D’ General?”

Ok. let me tell the gist. I went to MC an event in Asaba, Nigeria. Then, I was just answering “Chuks” as my name. When I got there, the chairman of the event was a Connell. So in his opening remark, he said he would be leaving the ceremony after 20 minutes because he had other appointments to catch up with. However, he didn’t leave as planned. He waited till after the end of the ceremony and in his closing remark, he said that he didn’t leave the wedding as planned again because I, the MC was so good. He then added that for me to have been able to keep a Connell like him glued to my comic acts and words, then, I must be a General in my own field because, I was very good at how I anchored the event. At the end of that day,  I gave a thought to what he said and decided to adopt the name “Chuks D’ General”.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

With my full chest, I must say, my source and my inspiration is from God in heaven.

What other things do you do apart from comedy?

Well, first of all, I must explain comedy to you because it is a wide project and to the lay man, you are actually asking what else I do outside cracking jokes. Comedy for me has 5 legs. I do Stand-up Comedy; I MC events such as weddings and birthdays; I also do radio programmes; I am also a comic actor, I acted in Merry Men 1 and 2 and I also acted in Hustle in Africa Magic Series. I also produce my own comedy shows so I am an event strategist. But to answer your question, I have come to understand that outside comedy, for me to be very wealthy I need to delve into other things like my colleagues so I am now diversifying into other things using the capital I get from comedy. However, I cannot say them here on magazines so that the witches in my village will not know and start following me (laughs). 

What is your relationship with AY and other entertainers in the Nigerian industry?

I have a league of senior friends who I tend to see as a part of my family. I call them when I need help and as a family. People like AY, Allibaba, Seyilaw, Mamuzee Twinz, Okey Bakasi, Gordons, MI and the rest. So I maintain a league of senior entertainers who can connect me in the industry because without acknowledging that there have been people with higher experience, one cannot go far.

Interviewer adds In: That's absolutely understandable. As the adage says "Someone who ask questions, doesn't miss his/her way". Kudos to them all.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

It has affected the entertainment industry because there are no gatherings again and without gatherings, there would be no need for entertainers such as MCs. So it affected us because it was a big shocker and we didn’t see it coming. It had a direct impact on us.

What have been your challenges in the entertainment industry?

As a person, being known was a problem. I initially lacked popularity and again, friends and families were a challenge because they wanted my services for free. As a movement, support and partnership is a challenge. So we need government to support us.

In the next five years, where do you hope to be?

It is God that leads the way. I am in a calculated movement with God and I believe in His grace. So, I can’t tell you where I will be because in 2014, where I told people I would be in 2019, I was ten times more than that. So the calculations don’t work again. It is just God.

It is difficult for most entertainers to acknowledge God in what they do. But from the beginning of this interview till now, you have been acknowledging God. What is your relationship with God?

Actually, I grew up realizing that this world is too spiritual and the spiritual controls the physical. So I have realized that it is a spiritual game I am playing so I don’t joke with God. Every day I see God working in my life. I came to Abuja with just one bag and today, if I were to move back, I can’t go with one bag so I am holding God till the end.

Who would you like to give a special shout out to?

I want to divide my shout out into four phases. First, I want to salute and reverence God Almighty. He has been the pilot of my affairs. Secondly, I want to appreciate my parents for their unending support. Furthermore, I want to appreciate my senior colleagues in the industry. For the assistance and grooming they rendered effortlessly to me, their unwavering encouragement and all. I can’t deny them like some people will. Infact let me just mention a few of them--- Allibaba, AY, Seyilaw, Okey Bakasi, Gordons. In the music industry, I appreciate MI, 2face, Mamuzee Twinz, Samsung, and Steve Crown. The fourth phase of people I want to appreciate is the media. The media have been very supportive of me. I have not been a victim of media bash.

What is your message to those looking up to you and your fans?

For those looking up to me, I want you to know two things about me. One, I believe so much in God and in His power. Two, I believe so much that God blesses the works of our hands not only our sleeping and waking up. Also, if I have anything I am to do, I do it well. I believe diligence to work is very important. I do not believe in laziness and unprofessionalism.

For fans, I want to appreciate them. I want you to know that more entertainment and ideas are coming your way. Please don’t be tired of me. Follow up my social media platforms @Chuksdgeneral on Instagram.

How do you unwind?

(Laughs) I have been able to, by God’s grace, create a very comfortable home. I have a very interesting and funny wife and my wife is very relaxing. I have a very fantastic home and wife. Not forgetting, my job is to help people catch fun. I help myself catch and experience fun at the same time. Lastly, I love to travel once in a while and that's part of how I unwind.

Interviewer adds in: That is beautiful to know!

How do you feel being Topflyers Magazine International’s Celebrity of the Month, September 2020?

I must say that I am impressed seeing people that deliver excellently in service. So having seen the work and seen how far they have gone, I must commend the excellency in service. In the middle of that work, somebody who has gone far and has done a couple of work for himself now says “I want you to be the FACE of a Magazine”, I don’t take it for granted. I see it as a privilege so I start by saying special thanks to Topflyers Team.

Corona Virus is real. While you pray, take precautions. Use hand sanitizers, wash your hand regularly, self-isolate yourself, wear face mask and hand gloves. To be featured as our Celebrity of the Month, place your advert on our well-circulated quality international magazine, for event coverage, placement of articles, etc at cheap rates, call or Whatsapp us via 08030808671.

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