Animashaun Samuel Perry isn’t the first Instagram comedian I’d meet in person. I have met quite a number of them but there’s something peculiar about him that triggered my curiousness. Perhaps it’s the way he hid the Broda Shaggi character under his person that made me so interested in conversing with him with the hope that I would find the “Fine Agbero Boy” I see everyday making a mess of himself on Instagram.
What I found was more than just Broda Shaggi, we had a chat that helped me understand the dynamics behind his craft: the loud toutish mechanic who always has a message for Nigerians from oyinbos (the whites), about happenings in our society.
Our meeting was everything but planned. I was with Teni (Entertainer) in the studio having a chat when we heard a gentle knock on the door. When the door opened, a familiar face held on a stretched-out neck appeared; then a short, brown-skinned man walked in – it was the famous Broda Shaggi. After few minutes of settling in and watching Teni vibe to her then unreleased song, I gestured to have a chat with the comedian and he was willing to talk.
“How did you come up with the Broda Shaggi idea?”, I had too much interest in the art behind the Broda Shaggi character to have asked anything else. He responded, “I have been on the ground for over 4-5 years. What I do is that I create characters on Instagram and I build them up by creating stories for them ‘cos I write too. I’d say my other characters were not successful because they didn’t get recognised that’s why I deleted my previous posts after the success of the ‘Broda Shaggi’ character. When I created the Broda Shaggi character and saw that people liked it, I decided to build on the acceptance.
The Broda Shaggi idea was actually an instinctive one, I was at a mechanic’s workshop repairing my car, then I heard the conversation between two of mechanics and I found it funny. I liked the way they talk and their mannerism. It occurred to me that I could do it so I adopted the style. I was looking for a name to give that and Don Shaggi came up. I later changed it to Broda Shaggi Don before the name Broda Shaggi stuck.”
Even though I had heard and read so many stories about how success came after a period of failed attempts, this Broda Shaggi story still had my interest. It surprised me. Or maybe not. But it felt new in a way. “You mean you’ve been creating characters for about half a decade and the one character that was inspired by an incident at a Mechanic’s workshop that didn’t even involve you; became a success?,” I thought, as I gave him an amazed look.
“So how about the Aunty Shaggi character whose questions seems to trigger the wildness of Broda Shaggi. Was that inspired by a life event too?”
His response was, “interestingly, the Aunty Shaggi character did not appear in the first skit I recorded, it was only her voice that I used. It was later on that I introduced the full character. I already started the (Broda Shaggi) series then I felt it is time for me to hire an interviewer. In the first skit I didn’t show her face but I later saw that this is something we can build and that’s how it became part of the brand. Aunty Shaggi (Sophia Ojireoghene) is my good friend, we met on a movie set. She is actually a good actress and I appreciate that about her. I spoke to her about being part of my skit and she agreed almost immediately.”
The skit we were talking about, which announced the arrival of the new comedy sensation, is titled ‘Jesus In Mushin.’ He referenced the video as his first skit that got the buzz, with about 150, 000 views – a massive improvement on the viewership of his previous videos which was usually around less than a hundred viewers. He said, “before the fame, my videos used to have a little over 30 views and on occasions when it reaches 50 views, I dey chop eba and drink pure water o.”
“Broda Shaggi” was the game changer. The tune changed after the “Jesus In Mushin” video went viral. He however noted that the success came with its own challenge – questions raised about the portrayal of Christ. He talked about the controversy that ensued the release of the video and that his success might never have happened if not for the decision he took in the face of the controversy. “Jesus in Mushin is the first skit that got the buzz and it got the buzz because it is controversial. I got so many calls and messages to bring the video down. I was like how? If you like it, like it; if you don’t like it, leave it. I got more positive feedbacks from the video, that was enough reason to keep it”
The decision to keep the video up seemed like an easy decision for him, going by the gesture he made – like, I didn’t even consider taking it down; but it has turned out to be a career-defining one, proving that great things come from simple choices, sometimes. That decision made the success of the character possible and the character has grown into a brand that boats of a following of over 400, 000 Instagram users, one that has recorded a number of Instagram video views as high as 400, 000 and a lot more than that in cash.
“All men were created equal until class divide us.” Sometimes this class could also mean fame. Asides kids like Blue IV, North West, Jam Jam, Imade and co; who inherited their fame; the rest of us have to earn a famous status, including those from a wealthy but ‘quiet’ background. Samuel A. Perry has had to earn his own fame, investing years of pursing different ideas until he reached the idea of playing Broda Shaggi in comedy skits. He always knew he would get famous, to him, it was only a matter of when. So he was prepared for the life of fame he is living now.
Bringing up the topic of fame with him helped me remember it’s beauty because it is becoming easy to forget these days, considering the amount of social pressure that famous people have to deal with, especially on social media where a lot of them are torn apart by scandals, controversies and their not being able to keep their privacy. Fame is starting to feel like a burden for many that have attained it but Broda Shaggi shared the good side of it: the difference it makes on his career as an actor. He said, “I have been acting even before ‘Broda shaggi” happened. I have been going for auditions and it hasn’t been easy. I used to go for auditions, stay there all day and still don’t get picked. Sometimes I just feel is it that I am not good and people just tell me I am good. I get confused.
But with the fame it’s been fun, sometimes I get paid and other times I don’t. I have played quite a number of supporting roles and I have always wanted to play the lead role. I got to play the lead role in a movie produced by Rok Studios, although, that was before Broda Shaggi. Since (the success of) Broda Shaggi, movie roles have been easy to come by.”
LONG TERM PLAN
A wise man once said “rising to the top is much easier than staying there.” Samuel Perry is aware of this reality and the question on the sustainability of a career as a social media comedian. To that he said, “it is actually true (that Instagram comedy is not something that would last forever), but that’s for people who do not know what they doing. I’m not just on the gram. I am an actor and I have plans. My movie, a series, is coming up soon. I produced it. That’s one of the ways through which I plan to keep going. I also have other big ideas I plan to purse in the future.”
These plans, he said, are built around his skills of dancing, drawing and painting. He thinks of himself as talented. But that is him being modest. To put it right, Samuel A. Perry is an all-round artist and Broda Shaggi is a shade of him. Samuel Perry- The actor is another shade of his that’s growing in stature. He has moved from queuing up for auditions for secondary roles to walking into movie sets as the lead actor. He is set to make movie producing debut with a series that would feature the likes of DJ Cuppy, Bolanle Ninolowo, and Teniola. The excitement he wore on his face as he spoke about the project is one I recognise. It is the one I experienced when I got to speak about my writing on Radio. It is the same feeling I perceived from Wizkid as he reminisced on his music journey at the Royal Albert Hall. It is the feeling of a man whose dreams are playing out.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets