The Business Of 60 Second Skits: How Your Favourite Comedians Are Cashing Out On Instagram

Posted on August 16 2018 , at 09:00 am
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  • Today, a younger crop of comics have deployed technology and the popularity of social media apps to not only advance their artistry but have carved out a niche for themselves, one that is getting more lucrative by the day.

In the years past, one had to attend stand-up comedy shows to have a good laugh, and that was even due to successes of comedy greats such as Alibaba, Tee A, Okey Bakassi and the likes. Before then, comedians were not reckoned with in the ecosystem of entertainment. At best, they were an afterthought, an addendum.

Today, a younger crop of comics have deployed technology and the popularity of social media apps to not only advance their artistry but have carved out a niche for themselves, one that is getting more lucrative by the day.

Whilst the work of older-generation humour merchant cannot be disparaged (veterans like Alibaba and Opa Williams fought hard to see comedy become one of the most profitable ventures in the country and brought structure and revenue with the sales and distribution of comedy shows packaged into DVDs) the new generation have simply bypassed the standard and created a lane which they thrive on.

Apps like Instagram and Snapchat in recent times have exponentially increased the chances of these comedians becoming successful. They acquire fans by publishing directly through their social media channels and gradually, they’re becoming pop-stars and celebrities. They understand the average social media user and the probability that most people are glued to their smartphones for hours on end.

These ‘online’ comedians have been able to capture the attention of advertisers and brands who use them -and their jokes- to market products and service at premium costs.  With comics like Lasisi Elenu getting as many as a thousand comments in thirty minutes, one would understand why companies are keen to key into their fan base for maximum exposure. Such is the type of power they wield.

What’s their unique selling point? What attracts fans to their pages? It is their mastery of the medium and ability to interpret roles in a very short period of time. It does take a special kind of skill set up a joke in sixty seconds.

“When I started, Instagram only could take fifteen seconds of video!” Frank Donga said to us on a visit to NET TV studios. ‘You only had fifteen seconds to deliver the punch line and make people laugh.” Donga (real name Kunle Idowu) became popular through a video series he did in conjunction with GT Bank in 2013. Playing a job seeker who shared his woes with fans, the skits were primarily on Youtube but understanding that Nigerians are quite judicious with their consumption of internet data, he quickly set up his own Instagram page to reach a wider audience.

The actor and comedian who holds a first degree in Agricultural Science said “I was not based in Lagos when I started, but I discovered that one of the major problems befalling Nigerian youths was the fact that a lot of Nigerian youths are not employable. So I thought I should package an episode to expose some of these findings.” He soon gained a cult following and has parlayed his Instagram success (that sees him charge as much as N500,000 for skits) into a major film career.

Another popular face (and voice) is Lasisi Elenu for his one-minute rants on Instagram. He told NET TV at the Nigerian Entertainment Conference earlier this year that he had no plans to become a comedian and was just sharing his experience with friends on the platform. “I am still trying to discover myself, but I get inspired by the most simple things. I could just be driving and see two people fighting, I can tell that my fans will be interested as well.”

Right now he has close to a 1 million followers and charges a minimum of N300,000 per (branded) post.

Nollywood actor, Charles Okocha has had a career spanning almost ten years. But it wasn’t until his ‘Igwe 2pac’ clips went viral that he became, well- a viral star. Since then, he has planted himself into the very grain of Nigerian entertainment, one skit at a time. From ‘Shove it up your ass’, ‘Amoshine’, ‘Accolades’ and most recently ‘Adeniny‘, his catchphrases have become mainstream pop culture slang, making the actor a legitimate brand influencer. Right now, he charges up to N700,000 for his skits. Not bad for a young man who nearly lost his life after a drunk policeman shot him six times in 2015.

Also remarkable is Maraji (Gloria Oloruntobi), who became popular through her choreography to songs. Using the app, she typically shoot several takes and compiles into one-minute videos. In time, she learnt how to act as many as eight characters into the skits, warming her way into the minds of over 900,000 followers on Instagram alone. Today, the 21-year-old Covenant University graduate charges N500,000 to produce such skits for brands and businesses.

All na cloth 😎😎, WHICH ONE ARE YOU 😂😂😂

A post shared by Gloria Oloruntobi (@maraji_) on

One would think the duo of Josh 2funny and Mama Felicia are just fooling around in drag while they mimic musicians, but behind those skits are carefully crafted scripts to appeal to the minds of their viewers. They both charge between N250,000 and N300,000 each.

Woli Arole may have started his career as a mainstream comedian who sought to win Alibaba’s Spontaneity contest, he has since taken advantage of social media to create multiple lines of business for himself- as a stand-up comedian, actor and events compere. His ‘Christian prophet’ character has inspired other comics like Woli Agba who mimic clergymen to crack jokes.

All in all, the so-called the internet-of-things phenomenon is bound to change the way things are done in the world. As it is becoming obvious, it would not stop with automating work processes, intangible industries like entertainment would also be impacted. For these comedians who have placed themselves firmly in the front seat, they can have no complaints.

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