Comedian Musa Afolabi, popularly known as Lasisi Elenu, has a following of over 337,000 on Instagram, where he posts the videos of his skits. He is an ardent user of the ‘wide mouth’ filter, an Instagram feature that he applies in all his skits. He tells JESUSEGUN ALAGBE how he started and the blessings he has derived through the social media
Your first Instagram skit was posted on August 11, 2017. How did you grow your following so quickly to 337,000 within five months?
There is no secret at all. I think it is just about doing what I love and enjoy. If you are consistent at doing something, people will notice you and eventually follow you. They will also refer others to your page if you are doing something wonderful. I never thought of coming online to be posting any skit. I was just doing comedy for fun, for my family and friends, who would laugh and compliment me. But afterwards, others discovered me and wanted to see more of my funny side. So, in August last year, I posted my first video skit on Instagram. I think I got just about 80 views on my first post. By the time I posted my second skit, it got about 110 views. I didn’t let the few views discourage me because I was not seeking fame in the first place. So, I just kept doing what I loved and enjoyed and that’s how the following grew. Today, I get thousands of views on my skits. So, I didn’t do any special thing to get followers on Instagram. I didn’t buy them and I didn’t also promote my account. It just grew because of my consistency and because there is a message in my skits.
Why do you use the ‘wide mouth’ filter for your skits?
I like the feature because it gives me a distinct look and voice in my videos, thereby making them to be unique. I had been using the feature on Snapchat but when I learnt about Instagram and that the feature was also available on it, I didn’t think twice before adopting it for my skits. And so far, the feedback from people has been good. People like the way I use the filter in my videos.
Where do you draw inspiration from while creating your skits?
Many ideas go on in my head and I write them down if I don’t have my phone with me. Some of those ideas are as a result of my frustration or tiredness. I always try to turn every experience, whether positive or negative, to an inspiration. And it doesn’t have to be a big experience. My inspiration sometimes comes from small experiences. For instance, I might be looking for fresh bread in the neighbourhood and if I don’t get what I’m looking for, I get tired and frustrated and from there, it could become the theme of the next skit I’m creating. I also listen to people when they share their experience. Through what I hear, it can also motivate me to create a skit. But overall, the desire to become better day after day is the major source of my inspiration. When I wake up, what I think about is how to make better impact on the lives of people through my skits.
So, would you say you have made impact on people’s lives through your skits?
Yes, I have and it’s in a great way that has given me joy. I have received tons of messages from Nigerians complimenting me regarding my skits. Some would say when they were in the hospital on the sickbed; it was my skits that made them not to give up on life. They would tell me my skits kept them happy and sustained them throughout their stay in the hospital. Some would tell me they were once frustrated but that my skits made them to have a rethink about life. Some would say that when they lost a friend or family member, my skits made them to smile and forget their sorrow. Others would say when they lost their job or relationship and they were down, my videos helped them to wade through those hard times. Sometimes when I read the messages, it pushes me to work harder towards putting smiles on more people’s faces. And I promise to do that. So, yes, I have made impact on people’s lives through my skits.
Have you ever been a victim of online bullying and how do you handle it?
Yes, who would say they have not been bullied online? The hustle has not been easy, but I don’t pay attention to the bullies. I pay attention to my work.
What are some of the weird requests you get from your fans, especially the female ones?
There is a lot of weirdness out there, but what I try to do is to turn the weirdness into sources of inspiration. I don’t let them put me off. Concerning my female fans, some of them usually tell me that I am cute and that they would like to have sex with me. Some who don’t request for sex would tell me that they just want to have a date with me.
Do you grant such requests?
Of course not; one should not lose focus because of those things or else, distraction will set in and success will become farther away. I don’t want to be carried away.
Has your social media presence opened doors for you?
Certainly yes! It has opened doors for me. Through my skits, I have been invited to perform at functions that ordinarily, I would never have been able to attend. I have had conversations with people that I wouldn’t have ordinarily met. I have also received gifts from people because of what I do. So yes, my social media presence has brought breakthrough for me and it is a testament to the fact that if you love what you do and you are consistent at it, someday, it would bring blessing.
Have you ever come across some of your online fans in real life?
Yes, many times. In fact, some minutes ago [Wednesday evening], I met some fans and they were kind of excited. Sometimes now, I get scared of going out because of the attention. But I guess this is something I have to learn to adapt to.
Have you ever had a reason to block anyone on your social media pages and for what reason?
None at all! Things don’t get to me easily. I think I have a thick skin, so it does not matter what people do to me, I don’t get easily pissed off. Some would say negative things about me, some even try to condemn what I do, but I have learnt to allow people air their views, whether negative or positive. What I do and what I would encourage anyone to do is to learn from the dirt people throw at you. If people piss you off and you start blocking them, that means you might block almost everyone in the long run. Meanwhile, you never know if your strongest critic or hater today will become your biggest fan or lover in the future. That’s why I simply overlook any naughty behaviour from some fans.
Before using the social media to post your skits, what were you using the platform for?
I was a writer and songwriter, so I used the platform to share my songs, but since I discovered the comedian in me, I have used the social media, especially Instagram and Snapchat, to post my skits. So, right now, what I basically use the social media for is to promote my comedy career.
Is comedy a talent you developed while growing up or has it always been in you right from childhood?
I was just a normal guy, I never thought of becoming a comedian, but I guess some people saw the comedian in me because they usually told me that I was funny. I never knew I was — until I started. Today, I have no regrets of who I am.
Which of your skits do you think put you in the limelight?
It was the one I made about people who live on Lagos Island — on how they are too afraid of small potholes on the roads. I ranted that you would see them driving their cars too delicately and swerving at the sight of every small pothole and almost causing accident in some instances. I told them in the skit to go to Lagos Mainland, where there are many big potholes on the roads. If they saw how motorists on the Mainland drove over large potholes, I told those on the Island that they wouldn’t be swerving anyhow at the sight of small potholes.
What is the feedback you get from your family and friends regarding your skits?
It’s been good. They love what I’m doing and they are proud of me.
There are many comedians on the social media right now? What makes you different from others?
Comedians’ messages always differ and I believe I have a unique message. Then, I also use the ‘wide mouth’ filter, which makes me have a different look from other comedians.
Do you get endorsements from brands because of your popularity on social media?
Yes, a couple of brands have reached out to me and I hope to get more.
What would you tell youths trying to follow in your footsteps?
It’s taxing to make skits, it’s not easy. But I enjoy what I do. Some people think it’s something that requires little effort to make. But what I have found out is that if you enjoy what you are doing, you wouldn’t mind the hard work that you have to put into it. Hence, what I will tell anyone trying to do skit is to love doing it because if you love it, you will enjoy it. If you don’t love it, you will quit too soon after making a few skits.
Who is your role model in the Nigerian comedy landscape?
This is a difficult question. I can’t really say I have role models in the industry, but of course, I have people that I admire. I am a fan of many comedians, especially those who have been around for over 10 years. I don’t want to start mentioning names here, but these are people that almost every Nigerian knows. These are people whose impacts on the industry have been huge.
Have you ever posted a skit that you regretted making afterwards?
I have never regretted posting a skit online and this is because I take my time to analyse and review whatever video I make before posting it. I don’t just make skits because they are fun; they must pass a message across to the people, so if it doesn’t contain any message, I won’t post it.