Akinyoola Ayoola, popularly known as Kamo, is a comedian and skit maker. The social media personality, who has 436,000 followers on Instagram, tells OGHENOVO EGODO-MICHAEL about his career and other issues
When did you become active on social media?
I became active on social media in 2013. I joined Facebook and Instagram when I started, but I could not handle both at the same time.
Which is your favourite social media platform?
My favourite social media is YouTube.
What is your favourite work tool or gadget?
My most important work tool is my voice. No matter how sick or tired I am, as long as I have not lost my voice, then I would still do my job. Even when the voice is not there, I would not stop; I would only rest.
What influences your style of comedy?
I started entertainment by doing stand-up comedy, and I wanted to do it in a unique way. Stand-up comedy in Nigeria is mostly done in English, and I wanted to be different. That was why I choose to do most of my skits in Yoruba.
How do you develop content ideas?
I just try to be creative, because as an artist, one cannot keep doing the same thing over and again.
Who are your biggest comedic influences, and how have they impacted your career?
The late Gbenga Adeboye was one of my biggest influences. He was original with his craft. I was also influenced by Kola Olotu, a radio broadcaster. He can do a programme for two hours and it would be interesting from the beginning to the end. Whenever I am listening to him, I usually do not want to stand up until the end of the programme. I also love Lanko Omooba Dubai.
What do you enjoy most about making skits, and how does it differ from stand-up comedy?
Comedy skits can easily be edited, while stand-up comedy relies on originality and spontaneity, as one has to deliver straight to the audience. However, what I enjoy the most about making skits is the ability to tell stories.
How did you and your colleague, Hussein Kehinde, come up with the concept of ‘NEPA Boys’?
I have known Hussein for a long time and, while growing up, I could tell that he was naturally funny. I created the NEPA concept based on things that I used to see around me, and I thought of who could join me in doing it. I then called Hussein, and when we met, we created the first episode. It was so easy for us to do. I chose to start with the NEPA Boys content, because it was something I grew up experiencing in Ibadan, Oyo State. When people start creating content, they often choose niches to start with, such as acting like a doctor or lawyer. I chose to act as NEPA officials.
How do you stay updated with social media tools in the ever-changing technology landscape?
I have been flagged down and ‘shadow banned’ on Instagram before, and my posts were not reaching my followers. So, I used the opportunity to take a social media break, while learning more about the updated Instagram guidelines. I also study the algorithms of different social media platforms from time to time, and make sure not to bombard my page. I only post one content per day.
What role do you think comedy plays in society, and how do you hope to impact your audience through your work?
Comedy gives ‘positive vibes’, and fills everywhere with positive energy. As regards how I hope to impact society; no matter how short my skits are, they always come with lessons.
Can you tell us about any particularly memorable interactions with fans or audience members in the course of your career?
I recently attended an event and when I got there, the CEO of the company said that he got a lot of recommendations (for the job), but that I caught his eye because of the fundraising initiative I put together to cater to the needs of veteran entertainers. That was one of the sweetest things I had ever heard.
What inspired you to start sourcing funds for veteran entertainers?
Baba Lalude and I are usually on set together. We were on a set in Lagos on a particular day, and I asked him, “Sir, where did you park your car”. He then told me that he had never owned any car in his life. I was very surprised, because this man had been working in the industry for over 50 years. I wanted to do it (give him a car) for love, but I felt it would take time, because I had other commitments as well. So, I gave him one million naira, and asked people to support me. We were eventually able to get him a car.
After his car, I got lots of calls from different veterans, saying that they were in similar shoes. Some of them don’t even own houses. I then decided to dedicate myself to helping them one after the other, and I intend to continue doing that. The initiative would be strictly for celebrating legends. It does not need to be grand gestures, such as buying cars for them. It could be anything, and we would choose any veteran. Celebrating legends happens everywhere.
How did the veteran entertainers react to your support, and what impact did it have on their lives?
They have been very grateful. It is not easy to be a star actor and not have a car. They are really happy, and have been showering prayers on me. I pray God keeps blessing us to do more for them.
What challenges did you face while helping these veterans, and what were some of the criticisms directed at you?
I heard a lot of things while trying to help those veterans, but I am not doing this for anybody’s sake. It is just like a calling, and it is part of my career. What matters is the passion to keep doing what one does, because at the end of the day, if one becomes successful at it, people would celebrate one. Both the people that like and dislike one would celebrate one.
Are you not worried that presenting your content in Yoruba would limit your audience?
Yes; I know that creating content in Yoruba would limit my reach. My plan is to start creating content in English language soon, so that I can reach English-speaking audiences as well. Language is a big barrier in entertainment, especially when it comes to content creation. However, in all honesty, we all cannot create content in English language. Soon, I would be doing my skits in Yoruba and English languages to carry everyone along.
You insult people a lot in your skits. Do you also do that in real life?
No. I do not insult people like that in real life. It is just the character I am portraying. Also, there are some kinds of insult that are practically part of Yoruba culture. Some of those ‘insults’ are passed on a lighter note, and not to denigrate the other person.
Is there any skit you have released that you wished you did not put out there?
No, I have never experienced such. I don’t have any bad skit. People don’t accept everything one puts out, irrespective of how good one is. The key is to make sure one is satisfied with the engagement on one’s content, and not put onself under unnecessary pressure.
What is the most challenging part of creating content?
One of the biggest challenges in content creation is the cinematography aspect. Sometimes, one could have a particular picture of how one wants the content to look like, but one might not be able to achieve that without the right cinematographer. Also, one cannot completely control the job of the cinematographer. One cannot determine what they should add or remove. They might also not get the kind of sound that would go well with the content.
Finance is also a part of the problem. The more money one has, the better content one would be able to create. Right now, I can create a cinema movie, but the only limitation I have is money.
There is also the fear of not being accepted. Sometimes, one creates fun contents and still have little engagement. It would seem like nobody wants to comment and share the post. Sometimes, I wonder why a video that has 100,000 views would not have up to 5,000 comments. Whether good or bad, skit makers always want to know what viewers think about their works.
What advice do you have for intending skit makers who do not know how to go about content creation?
Get a phone and a partner that you can shoot with. But, do not leave it at that. You have to keep working on yourself.
What do you see as the future of comedy and entertainment in the country, and how do you intend to be a part of it?
Very soon, people would start studying comedy in the university. There are some skit makers that make $20,000 a month, while some make even more. There are only few professions that would pay one that much. To be a part of the future in Nigeria, I am working on an academy that would be solely dedicated to content creation.
What are your long-term goals?
I would love to make a movie where all the actors would become stars, including the person that acted in just one scene. Even if some of the actors were popular before the movie, they would become even more popular.