The Future Awards Africa Prize for Comedy
Gloria ‘Maraji’ Oloruntobi (21)
Gloria ‘Maraji’ Oloruntobi is the undisputed queen of comedy in Nigeria, commanding an impressive minimum of N500,000 to create one-minute skits for the myriad brands that actively seek her out for partnerships and collaborations. Maraji has gained this reputation through her incisive and expertly produced comedy skits which draw on the nostalgia of the millennial generation, mining shared memories and experiences from their childhoods as fodder for her art.
This is a long way from Maraji’s first video skits which were created on the Music.ally App and featured her miming along to popular songs. She has grown in that time, graduated to complex skits that include multiple camera angles and Maraji playing multiple roles per skits. Maraji has an active follower base of 994,000 followers on Instagram and an astronomical engagement value that sees all of her videos gain almost instant virality, the minute they are released.
Consistently funny and aware of the zeitgeist, Maraji is showing everyone how to do progressive comedy.
Adeyela ‘Omo Ibadan’ Adebola (23)
Adeyela ‘Omo Ibadan’ Adebola is putting in Ibadan based comedy on the map. Known in LizzyJay in Instagram comedy circles, Adebola took the risk of alienating the majority English speaking social media audiences by delivering her comedy entirely in Yoruba. It was a gamble that worked and allowed her to create the ‘Omo Ibadan Cosin Senta’, her flagship comedy skit show that has attained virality on social media and transcended language and cultural barriers and gained her 567,000 followers on Instagram.
Adebola challenges all the stereotypes of social media comedians on Instagram, avoiding the problematic tropes of co-opting the language and behaviour of ‘razz’ socially disadvantaged groups, eschewing sexism and ethnic bias and relying entirely on storytelling and an understanding of her audience to elicit laughs. Perhaps it’s time women took over comedy in Nigeria.
Samuel ‘Broda Shaggi’ Perry (25)
Samuel Perry, otherwise known as Broda Shaggy is the latest in the storied tradition of comedians taking on personas that eulogize the lived experience of Nigeria’s seen but not heard itinerary workers. His improvisation heavy comedy relies on the ‘Broda Shaggy’ character, an obtuse itinerant worker with dreams of becoming a famous musician. Perry earns his gaffes through method comedic acting and heavy-handed gags that play out well on Instagram where a quick punchline makes the difference between a joke that lands and a joke that doesn’t.
Perry has featured in several comedy shows and regular cameos in the skits of other popular Instagram comedians, he is also an actor and voice-over artiste crossing over into radio and Nollywood and has grown his follower base on Instagram up to the coveted 1 million mark. The only way is up from here. Shaggy has also worked with an impressive list of partners and sponsors including Merry Bet Naija and Davido’s 30 Billion Gang and was awarded the Most Talented Male Award at the 2018 Social Media Awards.
Mark Angel (27)
There are two things no one should work within show business, animals and children. It’s a good thing that Mark Angel works only with his own internal motivations because he has made fortune crafting children into global comedy stars. Working solely on Youtube and operating an almost utilitarian posting schedule, comedian Mark Angel has figured out what really makes the world laughs and has committed to providing it, one slapstick comedy routine posted once a week, without fail.
Mark Angel began his comedic journey in Nollywood, working his way through ‘Asaba’ Nollywood and failing to make a dent. He left the industry and started his own production company Mechanic Pictures, and hired his first Spartan team, including his then 5-year-old niece Emmanuella. Thanks to Emmanuella’s comedic chops and Mark Angel’s inspired writing and directing, Mark Angel has grown his Youtube Channel to hit the ultra-elusive 1 million Subscribers and who watch millions of hours of Mark Angel content every month. He is arguably the most successful comedian working in Nigeria today without ever hosting a physical show or event.
As at 2018, Mark Angel Comedy has amassed a staggering 3 million subscribers and gotten 638,659,754 views. Pretty impressive for the guy who couldn’t make it in Asaba Nollywood.
Nosa ‘Lasisi Elenu’ Afolabi (29)
When Nosa ‘Lasisi Elenu’ Afolabi first started gaining traction on social media in 2017, many people wondered about how he would manage longevity. They complained about his oddly specific comedy routine that relied on a specific filter to exaggerate his features and his catchphrases that mimicked the perpetual frustration every Lagosian is familiar with. Afolabi did not let any of these concerns detour him from his plan to create an instantly recognizable, fully formed comedic brand.
Lasisi Elenu, the result of that experiment has become an instant hit on social media and beyond, parlaying Afolabi’s unique brand of anger fueled humour to catapult him to financial success and a client base that include MTV Base, Ndani TV, Pal Pension, Western Lotto, Access Bank and Trophy. He has also amassed an impressive 1 million followers on Instagram and 71,000 followers on Twitter and 10,000 subscribers and 800,000 views on Youtube. Afolabi has also become a regular on the speaking circuit, sitting on panels at the Handle It Africa conference hosted by Penzarville, The Awakening organized by Access Bank and a feature in the Nollywood film ‘The Ghost and the Tout’.