People don’t believe when I say I don’t drink or smoke – Broda Shaggi
Animashaun Samuel popularly known as Broda Shaggi was relatively unknown to many a few years ago. Thanks to his Instagram account which has about 578,000 followers, the young lad is fast becoming a household name. In this interview with Eric Dumo, he speaks about his brand and challenges faced
How would you describe your journey into the Nigerian comedy industry?
Basically, for me, comedy has always been something I have loved since I was a child. Ever since I was a child, I always got compliments from people that I am a hilarious person. I decided to join the Nigerian comedy industry in order to leave my impact and also to make a difference. I have always dreamt of doing something creative and different from what everybody else has been doing and that is how I came across the several characters I have developed through my skits. Although I recently shot into the limelight, I have been doing comedy skits for about five years. I actually started acting in comedy dramas while I was still a student at the University of Lagos. I would say that I was doing the regular style of comedy and skits but that did not bring fame my way, so I was prompted to adopt the ‘agbero’ style and it worked like magic.
At what point did you make that decision?
I made the decision to stick with the Broda Shaggi character in December 2017.
Was it easy to fit yourself into the character of a miscreant?
In reality, that is not my lifestyle even though I play the role so well and people may find it hard to believe me. As a trained actor, what I do basically is to create characters and make them look believable. Before the Broda Shaggi character became popular, I had created other characters; for instance, there was a character I created called Inspector Perry. It was the first character I created back when I was still in the university and I uploaded the skits on Instagram as well. After that, I created other characters like Akani Ibadan and Lecturer Dele; all these characters came into existence before Broda Shaggi but they never gained as much recognition.
The problem with most Instagram comedians is that they find it hard to perform to a crowd. Can you perform to a live audience?
Before I became a social media comedian, I had been into acting; it is what I studied in school and I have been acting in movies. I have also worked with media outfits like ROK Studios and Africa Magic. I had been in Nollywood before I gained fame via social media. I have acted in movies like Dear Mummy B, Unfinished Business, and recently I was part of the cast for Eniola Badmus’ Ghetto Breed movie.
So all the roles you have acted are comic?
Yes, they are all comic roles.
On Instagram, you are a comedian and on the screen, you act mostly comic roles. Does it mean you cannot act any other role aside from comedy?
Actually, I can act in any role given to me. Back when I was at the University of Lagos, I acted in various stage plays all the while I was studying. In fact, while I was in school, I had to take part in those stage plays in order to fend for myself. I did them to survive as a student. We were taught about music, visuals art and theatre art. I was also into visual art and that is how I honed my skills as a painter. Initially, I directed all my strength to my paintings but I did not sell them as I expected, so I had to ‘change lane’ and embrace comedy.
While I was ‘hustling’, I formed a group in school called, The Stage Addicts’, and it comprised of about 10 of us. We went for various shows and we were privileged to perform before dignitaries like the former governor of Lagos State and ex President Goodluck Jonathan. We did this just to survive as students. I also write scripts and direct. I am saying all this to prove that I am not limited to Instagram alone.
What are the calculated efforts you have made outside social media to remain relevant in the Nigerian entertainment industry?
I have made plans for my own drama series which would be coming out soon. I noticed that what most comedians do is just for Instagram but what I do is not just limited to Instagram and that is why I have been planning my own drama series which is modelled like Funke Akindele’s Jenifa’s Diary. So I have come up with something like The life of Brother Shaggi. This is to show that my skits are not limited to Instagram alone.
For a young talent like you, how important is social media and how can a person leverage on it to showcase his talent?
For the kind of skits I do, social media is very important because this platform is what made the Broda Shaggi character to be recognised all over the world. I have been on the social media for more than five years now. There were times I felt discouraged and felt like quitting after watching skits from people I knew I was funnier than but they always had thousands of people liking and laughing to their skits. It really affected the way I perceived myself because at a point, I felt I was not doing enough even though I invested a lot of time and energy into my craft.
Social media is a very big platform beyond what people see. While some people think it is just for posting pictures, others see the social media as a big market; their office. I remember when I started, people told me that I would run out of ideas because I posted skits daily but I did not listen to them because I saw it as my career; my job is to do comedy. Today, the messages I get are my source of motivation. For instance, there was a day I was unable to post some skits and by the time I got to my phone, I had received messages from people telling me how bad their day went and they looked forward to my skits to make them happy. I had to apologise to them individually. So I see social media as a big platform and my office. This is what I do every day.
Are you at that level where you earn huge sums of money?
Yes. When I started, it was with the advertisement of musicians who wanted to put their songs and needed my skits to help publicise the new projects. I charged them at an affordable price. Now I charge more because I put in more work and creativity into my skits. Also, I need more people to act with me and I have to pay for their services.
What inspires the stories behind your skits?
I am not an activist but when you watch my skits, you will see that beyond the comic aspect, I am actually passing a message. Basically, what inspires me is trying to be different and making a living out of it at the same time. I have always wanted to put a smile on my parents’ face knowing the situation of things at home. My background also inspires my skits.
Tell us about your background?
My dad is dead but my mum did not remarry. I was not born into a rich family. I have three brothers, and I am the first.
The first skit that made you popular, was it shot with a mobile phone or a proper camera?
I shot it with an android phone.
How did you come about the name Broda Shaggi, and how did you team up with Aunty Shaggi?
The idea of Broda Shaggi came to me in December 2017. I was with my mechanic while he was fixing my car and I overheard some guys talking. One of them asked the other to buy something for him but his friend refused, so he jokingly asked the guy, ‘are you okay, have you forgotten that you were once my apprentice,” in Yoruba. He sounded like a lout and I noticed everyone around was laughing because of the way he spoke and his mannerism. I liked the way he spoke and that was how I got the idea. The next thing I did was to get a name that would suit the character. I thought of Musiliu, then Shaggi Don Baba, but eventually, I decided to use Broda Shaggi.
I met Aunty Shaggi on a set of a stage play; she is also an actor who studied theatre arts. I noticed how well she acted so I became interested in her acting. I commended her acting prowess and told her about my comedy skit. I then asked if we could do something together, and she agreed.
How true is the gist, that you are dating Aunty Shaggy?
Well, this is a personal question but nothing is really going on between us. We are good friends.
Would you like to date her?
Well, I don’t know about dating her but I find her beautiful.
What was your future plan when you were in school?
I was very popular in school and I remember people saying things like this guy will blow in the industry. In school, I was just determined and certain that I was going to make my mother proud. My father was an actor before his death as well as a teacher in Mayflower Junior School, Ikene, where he taught theatre, dance and music. I decided to focus more on acting because I know I am very good at it and it would be a good means for survival.
Because of what the industry looks like, don’t you think you need to collaborate with those established acts?
Yes, I am going to collaborate with established acts but I need to stand firmly on my own. I have my own creative ideas so I need to use them before bringing in other people’s ideas. I have received calls for collaborations but I didn’t turn them down, I simply asked them to give me time.
Do you think you would be better off if you work with other bigger comedians?
In the early stage of my career, I tried reaching out to these people but it didn’t work out. Then I began struggling on my own and now I am here, so I believe I can stand stronger and make it bigger with or without them.
There are a lot of Instagram comedians and more are still coming. What are your plans to stay relevant in the industry?
When the foundation of your work is solid, it is going to be there forever. Yes, I know that everything is with time but as long as you know what you are doing, you can stay at the top forever. As long as I do the right things, I think I would remain relevant.
Do you feel threatened by others?
No, I don’t.
There are times that people pass by you on the street and do not recognise you, how does this make you feel?
I get so shocked that when I go to places, people still recognise me.
How has it been with the ladies?
It has been fine. It is normal for the ladies to come.
How do you deal with negative criticism?
I believe Instagram is filled with different people. While some could give negative comments, others dish out positive comments. So when I see the negative comments, I just ignore them and laugh about them It is normal for everyone not to like you.
Before comedy and theatre, what were your dreams as a child?
To be sincere, I have always wanted to be an actor from childhood. For me, this is a dream come true.
What is your social life like?
I neither drink, nor smoke. People don’t believe when I say this. I don’t really go to club but at times, my manager tries to take me out.
What should we expect from you?
I said it earlier, I am working on a project and it is going to be a really big one and that is why I haven’t rushed into it. I plan on using big artistes in the industry. I am going to be working with DJ Cuppy.