HE MAY have traded his all-in-one spandex and a lucrative career in dance for a mic and a risky venture into the unknown world of comedy, but former professional dancer turned comedian, Shabba, says he wouldn't change a thing.
?I've only been doing comedy for about 14 months now, but I honestly believe that being a comedian is one of the best jobs in the world,? he says.
?I came out of nowhere with the comedy thing, but before comedy, I was a professional dancer for 10 years. I went to a dance school for two years and I studied ballet, tap, modern and jazz. I used to be there in my all-in-one outfits and my ballet shoes.?
Before I let my mind toy with those visuals of the dedicated gym-goer in colourful form-fitting garments and matching shoes, he goes onto explain why he gave up dance.
?I think the dance industry has changed from when I was dancing. Back in the day, when you called yourself a dancer it meant something, whereas now everyone's a dancer. They don't even go to dance school or have any kind of skill base. Dance shows have profiled a lot of great dancers in the industry, but it has saturated the industry. Everyone is a dancer. You can do zumba for two minutes and call yourself a dancer,? he says.
On the contrary, he says: ?Being a comedian is one of the hardest jobs in the entertainment industry, but if you can get on the stage on your own and make people laugh, there is nothing else that can beat that. You're not a footballer, you're not an actor playing a role, it's just you and the mic.?
And that has been his reality for the last year. His new vocation has taken him all around the UK and seen the comic, who started out presenting gigs, win over the toughest of crowds on the circuit, many suggesting he should give comedy a try.
?I used to do a lot of presenting and used to host a lot of shows in and around London. Everyone used to come up to me and ask if I was a comedian. I starting dabbling with comedy in 2010.?
Following various hosting gigs, Shabba landed a regular slot at popular weekly comedy show, The Comedy Club, in Streatham, south London.
?On the black circuit, if you can do well there, you're going to get bookings,? he says.
?They gave me a slot once a month and I was consistently doing well. I had only been doing comedy for less than six months at this point, but went onto land a slot on a big comedy show called Wahala, which put me in front of 2,000 people. After that show, it just went crazy.?
His success at the aforementioned shows, coupled with the advice from British comedians Felicity Ethnic, Slim and Kane Brown, he says, produced a snowball effect that saw him living out of his suitcase - in a good way.
?I've performed everywhere. From Birmingham to Northampton, it has been amazing.?
On how far he intends to take his career in comedy, he says: ?I've always said that I want to be the English version of [US comic, presenter and entrepreneur] Nick Cannon because he's young, entrepreneurial and that's how I see myself. He may not be the funniest person in the world, but he brings a good quality of shows to your screen. I want to take British comedy to that level. I'm not trying to do what everyone else is doing, I'm trying to make my path a little bit different. If someone said to me, 'what do you want to be called right now?' I'd say, 'I'd like to be called the Young Don of Comedy'.
On the subject of names, I ask about the origin of his stage moniker. A tribute to Jamaican dancehall star Shabba, surely? After all, the pair hail from the same Caribbean isle.
?Do you want to know the real story or the story I prefer?? He already knows my response, so he continues reluctantly.
?Okay, well basically, me and my friend were having an argument. He was cussing me and said that I was ugly and I looked like Shabba. He would mock me every time he saw me, but because of the kind of person I am, I decided to take the name Shabba and use it positively.?
And it is this mindset that has developed his career.
?My competition in this industry is myself. I'm my biggest competitor, my biggest enemy and my biggest critic. For me, anyone who has been doing it for longer than me, I look up to.?
It's his hope that he'll be the person other newcomers will look up to and learn from in years to come.
?Whether I'm doing an arena tour or a theatre tour, I want people to hear the name Shabba and instantly smile. I want to be relatable and I want to be someone who helps put black comedy on television again. There's enough of us to be able to run with it.?