Life begins at 40 for comic Nadanja
Nadanja Bailey is feeling his age. He suspects the fresh aches are a sign of the 40th birthday celebrations he has planned for this weekend.
“My knee is hurting. I don't know why. I just woke up and it was hurting,” he laughed.
“They say life begins at 40. If it does, the life I've had has been pretty fantastic, so I guess I can look forward to what's coming.”
The comedian, who will reach the milestone on September 27, throws a comedy show every year for his birthday. This year's line-up includes Jah, T. K. Kirkland, Imagine and local comedian Bootsie.
Also invited are celebrity guests Keshia Knight Pulliam — better known as The Cosby Show's Rudy Huxtable — and Lamman Rucker who has had roles in As the World Turns, All My Children and Tyler Perry's Why Did I get Married?
Part-proceeds will go to Bermuda Autism Support and Education, a charity he felt a connection to after spending time with his friends' children.
“These are kids that are very funny at times and at other times it's really challenging,” he said.
B-Phlat, the only female in the line-up, will host the show. She was one of the first comedians the promoter brought to Bermuda under his own operation, Image Entertainment. The entertainer has been into comedy for 30 years.
“Eddie Murphy is the reason why I do what I do,” he said.
The American actor's particular flavour of comedy and foul mouth excited young Mr Bailey, who had a strict Christian upbringing. It began with his 1982 hit 48 Hrs. He would wait until he was alone, retrieve the tape from its hiding place and watch it.
“There was so much profanity in that movie,” he recalled.
“Children rebel. Because I knew I wasn't supposed to use profanity or watch anything with profanity, I really enjoyed it.
“In their eyes I was an angel, but I'd get around my friends and we'd start cursing.
“Everybody has secrets and that was mine. I give all thanks to Eddie Murphy.”
He owns every one of the actor's movies.
That was the beginning. He started with his friend Dyke Lawrence and in 1996 they won a comedy competition, the Teen Services talent show. The pair dabbled in skit comedy before Mr Lawrence went away to school, leaving his friend to go it alone.
“People were calling for it because it was so popular and I had to do it on my own. I was nervous but I figured it out and it worked,” he said.
They never reunited. From there his confidence grew and he found his way as a “one-man machine”.
The former Berkeleyite remembers his time at the high school as when he came into his own, hosting talent shows.
After graduating he did his first stand-up show, a tribute to Eddie Murphy called Nadanja Raw.
“Bermuda wasn't ready for that because I came out cursing,” he said. “I was like that ten-year-old boy watching 48 Hrs.”
Despite it being a shock for the more conservative community, the sell-out show in City Hall was well received and it paved the way for many more.
Well known for his character Norm, “a flamboyant hairdresser” he realised in a trio of shows, his sister Nishanthi played fellow hairdresser Sia.
This summer they have entertained crowds with Grotto Bay show Death By Disco. He said: “That's the best night of the week for me.”
Ms Bailey, 32, regularly performs with her brother.
“She has no choice,” he said. “Our father is Shine Hayward. To entertain was in our blood.”
He is the only international comedian to come out of Bermuda. He has appeared on BET's Comic View and won Orlando comedy competition Session Rock in 2006.
“My bucket list — I want to perform in all 50 states. I've already performed in 13, so I want to do the other 37. Then my life would feel complete,” he said.
“That's my ultimate goal with the hopes of something coming out of that.”
Mr Bailey says he avoids making jokes that reference the island.
“I don't have any Bermuda jokes,” he said. “I stay away from it. It's going to hinder me because only locals will be able to relate. My style of comedy is the things we do on a daily basis.”
The size of the country is a bonus.
“The average comedian keeps the same routine for two years. From Savannah, to Atlanta, to New York, why change the material? It's a different crowd every time, but in Bermuda it's the same people,” he said. “I'm an entertainer. I love the stage.”
• Nadanja's 40th Birthday Comedy Show is on Saturday, at 8.30pm at the Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre at Fairmont Southampton. General Admission $65, VIP $130. Tickets available at Kit n Caboodle, 27th Century, Rotisserie Grill and bdatix.bm. VIP Reception and Celebrity Meet & Greet 7-8pm