October 10, (THEWILL) – Popular Skitmaker and Master of Ceremony, Ayobami Olakunle Ajewole, also known as Woli Agba, talks about his foray into social media comedy, his humble beginning and sundry issues in this interview with SHADE METIBOGUN. Excerpts:
You started with dance drama, veered into mainstream acting and now skit-making on social media. How easy was it for you to evolve?
If you look at it critically, I am doing full theatre now. Full theatre involves dancing, acting, dialogue and the likes.
A lot of people know me as a dancing prophet because I started in a dance-drama group that used to go from church to church to perform. Then I had to leave the group, which was owned by my older brother, Oluwafemi Ajewole, otherwise known as Alfa Sule. I served him for 15 years.
As a member of his team, I was very committed and served him faithfully. There was no misunderstanding between us before we parted ways. I guess God just wanted to reward my commitment to him. You know, God has several ways of paying us back. At the time I left to set up on my own, social media was still very new and I was getting busy with it. Maybe my brother saw my ability to stand alone. Like I said, there was no quarrel between us. I didn’t want to leave, but he wanted me to. So I embraced social media and set up my own thing, Woli Agba and his IPM members. I continued to dance so much in my videos and some people fell in love with me. Some others fell in love with me because of my facial expressions. Once they see the dance steps, they know it is Woli Agba, the prophet with the oil of gladness to cheer his people with dance, acting and his facial expressions. This is full theatre for me.
What was your mother’s reaction when you told her you were parting ways with your brother?
My mother was not cool with it at all. She asked several questions and wanted to get an answer. We tried to convince her that all was well, but she wasn’t convinced until I started seeing signals of survival after setting up on my own. That is why I said you should be loyal in whatever you are doing. God will reward your loyalty.
Did you envisage that you would be as successful as you are now?
No, I didn’t. I didn’t expect all that is happening now. I know I had so many dreams and I wanted to pursue them. I think it is just the grace of God. I never envisaged that it would be this loud.
How do you come up with concepts for your skit?
The source of my inspiration is God. Most of the things that I do are highly spiritual. I divide my videos into three categories. Relatable videos from the church or other life experiences are in the first category. When you see those relatable ones, people will laugh and recall similar experiences they have had. The second category has to do with imaginary videos. The concept or idea may not really be there, but you can just come up with something from your imagination. The third category involves impossible videos. We just come up with stories that seem impossible. You know that such a scenario is likely to be impossible but would make one laugh. I just pick one out of those three categories and build my skit around it.
Which is your most challenging skit?
We went to a place called Ejigbo in Ibadan and I wanted to punish a member of my crew called Mide Oladimeji. His punishment in the skit was to sweep from Ibadan, Oyo State to Lagos State. It was challenging because I had to shoot at every junction in Ibadan until we got to Lagos. We had to take a car and pause at different places to shoot. We shot how he started, moved to the first bridge, the second bridge that people could relate with, just to show that we were actually moving on the expressway. We continued till we got to Redemption Camp. People were actually waiting for us at Berger. That was how he swept till he got to Berger. Another one is when I was annoyed with the ‘choristers’ and wanted to throw them all in the river. We had to enter a boat and I threatened to throw all of them into the river. Another thing I consider a challenge is the fact that I delete my skit once they are not funny. Once a skit is not funny to me, I delete it. No matter the level of effort, money, creativity put into it, I will delete it. I just want my skits to satisfy everyone who sees them.
If you were asked to make a choice between skit making, singing and being a master of ceremony, which would you choose and why?
They are all part of me. There is really no money in skit making. People will just laugh at your funny skit. The only income there is the relevance. People will call you for functions because they know you can make their event memorable. You are in people’s consciousness and they want to see their favourite skitmaker at their functions. That is where the part of a master of ceremony comes in. I have discovered that people don’t like your content as much once they discover it is an advert for a product or service like they would like it when it is a normal skit. People don’t pay so much attention to adverts, but it is fine. The skit brings the MC function out in me. The acting is also part of the skit-making.
Does that mean skit-making is not really profitable?
Like I said, there is a way to it. It is profitable because of the relevance that would make people engage you. When they see that you are the talk of the town, they want to identify with you. They will see that you have the energy and creativity and you are hard working. You cannot separate skit-making from these things. It is just like a means of transportation to your destination. The main thing is for us to get income and skit-making will eventually lead to that.
As one of the pioneers of skit-making on social media, what is your opinion about the industry?
One of the issues I have about social media as an influencer is that people should always remember that the Internet has a larger memory than their phones. Whatever you put out there defines who you are directly or indirectly. Whatever you put on your page will tell people who to trust and who not to trust. At times, people will say it is my life and it is my stage. Yes, it is your stage, but you should be careful too. It is just a matter of checking a few of your posts and they will decipher who you are. My advice to people is that it is not everything that should be put out on social media. Involving the public in some private situations is not it. That has never given a solution to any problem. No matter how bad a tree might be, it will still have branches. Social media has the widest range for now. So whatever you are putting out there should be guarded properly.
Skit-making may be in vogue now, but what about the future? What are your long-term plans?
I am looking forward to having a school of drama. I have started anyway. I have about 19 guys already. We have done a couple of auditions. I did a lot of screening before we arrived at that 19. A lot of people are interested in acting, but they are not talented. Such people would not be useful to you. I also want to impact a lot of people. I look forward to launching young ones into stardom. I also want to have a television station as well. I have a lot of young ones in mind and I know God is going to help me.
Have you ever had to deal with negative comments or online stalkers?
Yes. When I started, a lot of people thought that I had backslidden. They thought I had left God and was running after money. I was almost going to stop at a point, but the Holy Spirit convinced me otherwise. I heard many things and it was discouraging, but I thank God that the majority are enjoying what I do.
You bought cars for some members of your team last year. This shows that Woli Agba is quite rich. How rich is the prophet with the oil of gladness?
I thought you were going to ask me why I bought those cars. I didn’t know you will ask me how rich Woli Agba is. I am just enjoying the grace of God. By God’s grace, I am doing well. We are pushing and God is helping us. I just wanted to compensate the guys with those cars. God made it possible. God is rich. Since I am his son, I am also rich.
You have quite a large crew. How do you manage to resolve conflicts so that everyone can stay happy?
I am an observer and I am attentive to my guys. I ensure that every one of them is important to me. I don’t show favoritism to any member. Once we have allocated roles to each member, if the person taking a particular role does not show up the following day, I would give his role to another person who is available. That shows that every team member is important. Have you noticed that we don’t have female members in our team? I celebrate all the ladies, but I know that they can be a source of distraction to us. That is why we don’t have ladies amongst us. I hire them for short periods to take those special roles. If we have to play a role that will involve a lady, I have people I can easily call to take it. But they are not our in-house people. They are not part of Woli Agba’s team. I have checked some notable musicians, the likes of Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey. They don’t have ladies in their team. I just want the understanding we have among ourselves to be maintained. If there is any issue, we discuss it, resolve it and move on. I know that once the issue of a lady is involved, conflicts and misunderstanding might set in.
What was growing up like?
I was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. I also grew up in Ibadan too. I attended both primary and secondary schools in Ibadan. I studied Economics at Lead City University in Ibadan. I am from Osun State. My father was a tailor. My mother was a trader, but now an advanced one. I was born into a family of five children and I am the last child.