Homemade comedians are on the rise and looking at Mc Shem, a TikTok content creator with a following of 1.5M who creates funny and interesting skits about Nigerian parent and child experiences. In this interview with Ugo Aliogo, he speaks about the role technology has played in improving the comedy industry
Kindly tell us about your foray into comedy. What drove you to be the creative talent you are today?
My name is Ayodele Agunda. I grew up in Edo State. Mc Shem is my stage name. I was called Shem seven years after my younger brother was given birth to, he was called Japheth and my father said I should be called Shem. The name Shem is biblical; Shem and Japheth were the two sons of Noah who covered their father’s nakedness.
My desire to venture into comedy started when I was growing up. I remember seeing a picture of myself holding a microphone and people were laughing. My childhood experience has always been acting. So when I secured admission into Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State, I was going to be a drama leader who will be very popular. But I realized that you can only be a drama leader in one fellowship, besides you can only do drama when your group is presenting. So I changed strategy to allow me create brand presence for myself. At the time, I anchored teenagers’ programme, so I said I can do standup comedy and that was how I moved into comedy. For me, first passion has always been acting; comedy is something that happened while doing acting. Comedy gave me the opportunity to perform at different fellowships/events and also did programmes for the Vice-Chancellor.
Going back to Lagos after School, I felt the need to go back into acting which is my passion, although I was still doing comedy. I have participated a few auditions, I was called for some and I was not called for others. In 2012/2013 I decided to use social media to create my own comedy skits and that was how I began.
TikTok is where you have a huge following of over one million people, how did that happen?
I thank God we are not where we used to be, so we are moving forward. For me, Tik Tok is the major platform which I have used to grow a large amount of following of 2.3million. Though, it has not come with direct financial reward yet, I have however leveraged on the huge exposure it offered me. And that is a reward. The fact remains that platforms such as TikTok may not pay physical cash, but it gives an individual the opportunity for people to know and appreciate you more. TikTok has given me huge popularity, now I anchor events, I do comedy and I also master of ceremony (MC) off direct referrals from my content on TikTok and this has helped increase my value to premium. There are also other opportunities for deals, endorsements and advertisements on the platform.
What advice do you have for aspiring comedians who believe that they need a platform to showcase their talents?
I advise them to come to TikTok because it makes it easy for someone who is not skilled in the art of creativity. With TikTok, you truly don not need to do all the work yourself, there are always challenges available for creators, all you need to do is to get on the platform and it is that easy. If you dance, act, mime to a sound, sing, or have ideas about funny skits, TikTok will definitely work for you. TikTok has creativity all in one app.
Comedy is one of the fastest growing industries in the entertainment business. What do you think are the factors responsible for this exponential growth?
Comedy is positive. It helps brighten a dull mood or moment and this helps battle depression. It is healthy. Comedy is positivity and people appreciate it for that, I think that is why it is selling so fast.
If you had to pick between a Comedy Concerts and an online talent hunt for young comedians. Which do you prefer?
AY Open mic challenge has helped a lot of people such as Seyilaw, Mc Shakara, Akpororo and others; who won open-mic challenges. I did a few competitions myself which I won. But what I believe is that sometimes winning comedy competitions are good, but they are not the complete test of one’s abilities in comedy.Iit is an opportunity for young people to showcase their talents, however, there are a lot of people that do not have the opportunity to be a part of this, so it is limited. But internet gives you a global opportunity and it is really growing very fast with the introduction of applications such as TikTok, which has a global audience waiting to consume hype and share your content. The comedy concerts and talent hunts are good, but the online community is just amazing.