Jokes Apart: Nigeria’s Skit-Makers Are Laughing All The Way To The Bank

Published 11 days ago
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First gaining prominence in 2015, skit-makers in Nigeria have continued to boom, with unprecedented collaborations between comedic content creators, both local and international. It’s a funny but lucrative business.

Nigeria, Africa’s powerhouse in the entertainment industry, is witnessing an unprecedented boom in its creative economy, particularly in the realm of skit-making. With the creative economy increasingly contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of the country, as multiple reports and statistics attest, the Nigerian skit-making industry too is not only flourishing but also redefining the landscape of entertainment.

The Covid-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for the exponential growth and attention garnered by Nigerian skit-makers. As total lockdowns necessitated innovative forms of entertainment, skit-makers seized the opportunity, devising new ways to captivate audiences through collaborations and featuring prominent actors and musicians. These newcomers are making significant breakthroughs, reshaping the narrative.

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According to Dataleum, a global talent accelerator, skit-making ranks as the third-largest entertainment industry in Nigeria, with a net worth surpassing ₦50 billion ($31.2 million). The industry now doubles as a source of amusement and a substantial source of employment, as noted by the Africa Polling Institute (API); 90% of Nigerians polled viewed comedy skits as a viable means of employment, highlighting the industry’s socio-economic impact.

The stage is now set for the proliferation of these creative endeavors. While Instagram is the primary platform for most skit- makers, YouTube also sees significant engagement for skit videos. Some Nigerian skit-makers reportedly earn over $20,000 monthly. The industry has also attracted transnational collaborations, including a recent one involving Maryam Apaokagi, known popularly as Taaooma, and American actor Terry Crews. Kai Cenat, an American online streamer and YouTuber, also recently visited Nigeria. Following his visit, his colleague Darren Jason Watkins Jr., known online as IShowSpeed, also declared his intention to visit soon.

Olufemi Oguntamu, CEO of Penzaarville Africa, a media agency offering services such as talent management, shares with FORBES AFRICA: “We are highly tech-savvy in Nigeria, constantly glued to our phones.

With our large population and abundance of creativity, we are well-positioned to innovate. Despite challenges, Nigeria fosters an environment conducive to creativity. We have the knack for turning situations around, finding humor in our everyday lives, which resonates with viewers and fosters relatability.”

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The evolution of skit-making has not gone unnoticed, with dedicated awards recognizing the contributions of these digital creators. Yet, amidst the glitz and glamor, Oguntamu issues a word of caution. “I just really wish and hope that content creators invest. You might be enjoying attention this moment, but the industry is very seasonal. You just have to make the best of the opportunity.”

We profile some of Nigeria’s prominent skit-makers and their journeys so far:

MAKING OF THE PURE WATER SELLER

Sophia Ikemba, popularly known as Soso or Real Sophy, is an actor, influencer, content creator, model, and chef.

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Her journey began in 2019 when her makeup-free photos started attracting attention. Yet, it wasn’t until 2021 that Ikemba stepped into the spotlight of content creation with her alter ego, ‘Soso, The Pure Water Seller’. She explained the shift to Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust: “My journey into comedy and skit content was started by my creative director, popularly known as ‘Chalzani’. He pitched the idea to me, including the name and style/personality of my new character. At first, I was skeptical about it, but eventually, I started.”

Central to Ikemba’s success is her dedication to forging bonds with her audience. Speaking to FORBES AFRICA, she reveals:

“I try to reply to their comments because when you do that – including interaction – it makes them feel closer to you and you strike that bond with them.” She doesn’t just respond formally; she engages fostering an environment where fans feel like friends.

Adeaga-Ilori (Photo Supplied)

Consistency, she asserts, is the cornerstone of her craft. “If the consistency is not there, people might stop interacting with your page,” she cautions. Despite the challenges, she perseveres, drawing inspiration from real-life situations and trends that permeate social media. “My content comes from real-life situations,” she explains. “I try to create realistic and relatable content. It’s not like I sit down to really come up with those ideas, it just comes; just everyday happenings.”

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In a digital ecosystem where trends ebb and flow like tides, Ikemba navigates with experience. “I follow trends and make skits out of them because I am always online,” she divulges. “When you see these trends, you do your best to create something in your own way.”

COMEDY’S LEGAL LUMINARY

Isaac Olayiwola, better known as Layi Wasabi, is not your typical skit-maker. Armed with a law degree and a sense of humor, he is carving out a unique niche in the content creation space.

“I have always been someone who had a knack for comedy. Studying law [at Bowen University in Nigeria] gave me the adequate knowledge I needed for the character I now play as ‘The Law’ in my skits,” Olayiwola shares with FORBES AFRICA.

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With a following of over two million on Instagram from 300,000 early last year, his skits, infused with legal references and sharp wit, garnered 133.2 million views in 2023, according to Dataleum. From portraying The Law to embodying the motivational speaker persona, Mr. Richard, he is known for his versatility.

“I decided on skit-making six years ago, and my longest-held dream was to become a standup comic. However, skit-making didn’t take off until it became widely accepted on the internet and became relevant in Nigeria. I realized that I understood human nature well enough to excel at it. Creating skits seemed like an easier route to take compared to working my way through standup bars to become a recognized comic. Although the idea of skit-making came to me six years ago, I didn’t become actively involved until three years ago,” he narrates to FORBES AFRICA.

Olayiwola, who recently landed roles in notable movies, shares: “I definitely envisaged it. If I didn’t get it, I was determined to make it happen. I have always believed I belonged on the big screen. My work as a skit-maker has been paving the way for me to take on roles in movies.”

The journey has not been without its challenges though. “I am just getting started. There is a lot I am still to do. My fans should expect more.” In navigating the world of content creation, he offers sage advice: “Stay natural and do what feels personal to you. The most universal ideas are very personal. When I started doing skits about lawyers, they were things I personally found funny. I did not envisage that a lot of people would enjoy it.”

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Looking ahead, he is eager to collaborate with fellow creators. “I enjoy watching a lot of my colleagues, and I look forward to collaborations in the future,” he says with enthusiasm.

BREAKING BARRIERS IN CONTENT CREATION

Content creator Oluwabukunmi Adeaga-Ilori, popularly known as Kiekie, has transcended boundaries with talent and passion.

The numbers record her rise. According to Dataleum, Kiekie’s Instagram following witnessed a surge throughout 2023, soaring from 2.1 million followers in the first quarter to 3.1 million by the year’s end. Her presence garnered 93 million views from 106 skits.

“I began my journey in content creation back in 2013, initially focusing on uploading videos to my YouTube channel,” Adeaga- Ilori reminisces with FORBES AFRICA. “At the time, I delved into content centered around celebrities and style.” However, it was her breakthrough moment in 2018 with the Fashion Shock Show that catapulted her into the limelight. Collaborations with fellow skit- makers such as Edem Victor and Oluwadolarz further solidified her presence in the digital sphere.

Reflecting on her evolution, Adeaga-Ilori shares, “Despite my background in fashion content, my penchant for humor led me to embrace comedy wholeheartedly, marking the official launch of my personal content in the skit-making realm in 2021.”

Amidst setbacks, she was determined. “What has kept me going despite the challenges is my unwavering commitment to realizing my dreams. Moreover, the vastness of this industry, teeming with exceptional talent, fuels my excitement for meeting new individuals, collaborating, and embracing fresh experiences.”

Her appointment in 2022 as the brand ambassador for Bowen University, her alma mater, was a testament to her growing influence and impact. “It was truly remarkable. The entire administration, including the Vice Chancellor, extended a warm welcome. As I stepped onto campus, I was met with an overwhelming reception, reminiscent of my first days at the university.”

Offering advice to aspiring creators, Adeaga-Ilori emphasizes authenticity. “Embrace your uniqueness, for therein lies your greatest strength. Authenticity is key to standing out in a crowded digital landscape.” As she ponders the future of content creation in Nigeria, Adeaga-Ilori remains optimistic. “The evolution of skit-making and its widespread acceptance in Nigeria is truly remarkable. We are witnessing unprecedented collaborations between international brands and content creators, opening doors to diverse opportunities.”

MASTERING EVERYDAY COMEDY

Mark Angel, the creative force behind the popular Mark Angel Comedy series on YouTube, has mastered the art of bringing everyday humor to audiences worldwide.

With his knack for relatable characters and perfectly-timed jokes, Angel has carved out a niche in the skit-making world, attracting a plaque from YouTube in 2017 for running the first African comedy channel to reach one million subscribers.

“The internet is booming and I studied the market as well. I also noticed no marketer would want to market any content from an unknown producer. Also, it is cheaper and there are so many bloggers too. The internet is the future of arts and entertainment,” Angel shared in an interview with Punch.

His journey to success began with him starring in his own skits, but it was the introduction of his young niece, Emmanuella Samuel, that proved to be a turning point. Together, they became

an unstoppable comedic duo, captivating audiences with their natural chemistry and comedic timing. His dedication to clean, family-friendly comedy has resonated with audiences of all ages, propelling his channel to unprecedented heights. With over nine million YouTube subscribers, Mark Angel Comedy reportedly stands as the first African comedy channel to achieve such a milestone, cementing Angel’s status as a household name in the skit comedy scene. Last year alone, Angel’s 196 skit videos posted on Instagram amassed 196.9 million views, accompanied by 12.1 million likes and over 208,000 comments.