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Digital Comedy In The Diaspora and Its Influence On African Acts

The Evolution of Digital Comedy

Comedy has evolved incredibly over the years, and has taken on so many different faces it, becomes even more astonishing when you begin to encounter the raw talent that has dominated the world of internet comedy for that past decade and more.

Six degrees was the first technical social media website founded about 22 years ago, however, it wasn’t until the groundbreaking success of MySpace that the true power of internet social connectivity started to take root. Then came Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and all the amazing platforms we have as part of our daily lives.

The Comedy We Got vs The Comedy We Deserved

In the early years of the internet, few people actually set out to perform as comic acts online, in fact, most contents were usually humorous juxtapositions of gifs including cats and other animals, or clips from stand up specials reposted on the few videos hosting sites at that time. It was not until later that the vestiges of what will become the precursor to modern internet comedy will appear on Youtube, Reddit, and 4chan.

It is will be a deep search to identify who exactly were the pioneers of internet comedy, but rest assured, there was a plethora of content once people realized the immense potential that was opening up during the mid-2000’s – Thanks to faster internet speeds, and more reliable content hosting services. However, it is during this period that comedic movers on Youtube like IdubbzTv, FilthyFrank, Howtobasic, and some others began creating raw, edgy offensive comedic content that immediately caught on like wildfire with their unapologetically poignant and societal topics. Of course, these weren’t the inspirations or progenitors of what we now know as modern internet comedy, but they played a landmark role in the evolution of digital humor as we know it today.

Influence on Nigerian Digital Content Creators

Slowly a vacuum was created that needed to be filled, and the vacuum was relevance. Africa had its own internet revolution during this period, and while it wasn’t uniform across continents – it was inexorable.

So what eventually started happening was, talented and creative young Africans who were becoming privy to the potential the internet harbored in showcasing unique and humorous content, noticed that while these international acts were talented in their own right – they just did not create relatable African content, and this was where the first vestiges of African content began creeping up – Talents like dontjealousme, crazeclown, and even the notorious Naija Boys who were so similar to the parody music group The Lonely Island in their simultaneous mainstream/digital appeal.

Regardless, all these acts shared a similar characteristic – they all were based in the diaspora. This did not diminish their relevance, however, it was only a matter of time before home-based acts decided to begin generating homegrown content.

Nigerian comedy is heavily inspired, however, it would be a great misconception to assume that it is a copied product. It follows the stipulated rules of comedy and is globally appreciated in its original format. Channels like MarkAngelComedy on youtube and the ikorodu_bois on Instagram have shown that we can generate humorous and engaging content revolving around our unique assets as a society, while we still retain exportability and universal appeal. Of course, a lot of channels are derivative in their content, but they are very few outright duplicates.

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