“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.
The subject for today’s “A Week In The Life” is Olubiyi Oluwatobiloba, an entertainer popularly known as ‘Agba’ of Konibaje baby fame. He tells us about the good and bad side of fame, his creative process, and his exit plan when skits are no longer sustainable.
I repeat the same pattern when I wake up every morning – I say a prayer. Then, I play old school highlife music or The Weeknd. I allow the music to set my mood for the day. After that, I watch TV for a bit, then I look for something to eat. After eating, I sleep like a mad person.
The only difference in my routine today is that I have to create video content for some brands. Some people call it influencing, but the term “influencer” makes me feel somehow because I’m just having fun. I do this to make people happy and to make them smile. My brand started off the back of a video I made on Twitter. It was in the comments section someone advised me to take the character to Instagram and that’s how I started. In addition to that comment, seeing people’s review of that particular video just made me do more. It all started with just making videos for fun.
However, what started out as fun and cruise caught the attention of big people and companies, so there’s now a serious part. At the end of the day, I make sure that I don’t put pressure on myself. The only time I feel the pressure is if I drop content back to back for like two weeks and I have writer’s block the next week or two. That’s only when I get bothered. Anyway, it’s all cruise. I enter anywhere and just try to have fun.
I’m going to alternate the rest of my day between sleeping and making videos.
People are always surprised when they meet me outside of character – Tobi, not Agba – I think what shocks them is how chill I am. When I’m out with my friends, I take the back seat and allow them to tell all the jokes while I just observe. From watching them, I even get some material for my skits. As much as people think I am outgoing, I actually enjoy spending time with myself.
When I want to be by myself, I read and watch the biographies of famous people. Their rise and fall, what they did wrong or right, what happened to them. I find it fascinating learning about people I loved growing up, and it also serves as a guide for me. As an entertainer, the same people who praise you today will attack you tomorrow. There was a time I posted a video on Twitter and someone came into my Dm’s saying I wasn’t funny and I was doing too much. The next week, this same person was on the timeline talking about how funny I was. That incident made me realize that people are wired funny. On one hand, I now understand that these people are not really my friends. We are just cosy over the internet. On the other hand, I have met some of the best people in my life through the internet: people that I never thought we’d talk. Finding that balance between being a person[your true friends] and an entertainer[internet friends] is important.
Today, I’m watching a documentary on Nina Simone to understand her life and actions. It’s better to learn from other people than from real life.
I was telling my friends today that I’ll rather be rich than be famous. I am not anywhere yet but I appreciate the love I get. The other day, I went to buy bread and someone was shouting that I should have worn Agbada to buy bread. Are they telling me that I can’t just come out to buy bread and Akara again?
I also can’t contribute to certain topics on Twitter, and this was not my reality two years ago. These days, I have to consider my brand and future deals before saying anything.
At the stage I’m at, I’d rather have money so that I can gather my life because I can’t do skits forever. A time will come when it’s no longer viable and I must evolve if I want to remain relevant. I don’t want much: I’m okay as long as I am living fine and my family is doing well. I am doing this to lay the foundation for the future. Very soon, I’ll jaapa to Finland or Denmark so I won’t have any pressure to create content.
There’s no use thinking about these things, I’m going to play FIFA to distract myself.
If you ask me about my creative process, it’s like this: I get inspiration from looking at Twitter and based on the mood there, I make content. Also, I could be watching Big Brother Naija and I’ll just see something funny no one else is seeing and crack a joke out of it. Sometimes, I’m watching CNN and Trump says something ridiculous, I’ll be baffled that how can he say this? Then I’ll make satire out of it.
Another underrated source for me is BISCON TV – Bisi Olatilo show. That’s where I draw inspiration about Yoruba culture from. It’s fun just watching dignitaries singing, dancing and having fun. It even inspired my joke about going to a wedding and no one ever listening to the father of the groom addressing pẹople. If you watch BISCON TV, you’ll see shit like that.
Nowadays, I try to make my content less sexual because my parents watch my skits. The reason I can even make skits is that they gave me the grace to be outspoken; they allowed me to express myself. I talk about sex in my videos because I find the Yoruba terms for sex to be hilarious, however, my parents advised me to focus more on the funny side. So, that’s what I try to do now.
At the end of the day, it’s still a win for me because it helps with the brand. The best part of all this is being able to use all of this to bamboozle and befuddle my girlfriend[haha]. Sometimes, she’s my muse. For example, if she sends pictures, I can just enter Agba mode to gas her and show her one or two. O ti ye eh. It’s one of those things.
The day John Boyega called me was crazy. To quote my babe, she was like “Tobi, your Twitter followers are mad people.”
I was asleep and people kept calling me. I remember my friend called me twice and I grudgingly picked on his second try. He started shouting that John Boyega was calling me on Twitter to make a video in Yoruba for him.
I jumped up immediately. Ji! ma sun.
The thing is that when famous people reach out, it’s always for work. So, I don’t get time to be starstruck. I don’t have that luxury. Even when I get to meet them in person and I sometimes get to play FIFA with them, I always have it at the back of my mind that it’s work.
In this case, I had just seen Star Wars the week before and this same guy was messaging me to come to do stuff with him. It was crazy. I quickly logged into Twitter and I told him it’d take a while for the video to be ready and he should give me time. After that, I put my phone on airplane mode and went to work.
So, there I was, transcribing and translating to Yoruba for 2-3 hours. I made sure my pronunciation was tight and everything. When I was done and satisfied with my work, I put my phone on network mode, and saw messages – “Don’t you know what’s happening on Twitter?” “Have you seen Twitter.”
In my head, I was like what’s going on? Shebi John said I should do the video. Oluwa, what’s happening? That’s how I logged into Twitter and saw that someone else had made a video. I was like “Father Lord, this was not part of the will.”
I am not a controversial person and I believe that the sky is big enough for everyone so I didn’t say anything. People had different opinions about who should have done the video, and both camps had valid points. Someone even dissed me that it’s because we don’t have light in Nigeria that I didn’t do the video in time. That the person who made the video before me is based in South Africa and has constant power while I had to battle with generator rope. That was the funniest thing I heard that day.
In all of this, I couldn’t drop the video without John’s knowledge as he was not online. Instead of allowing the external pressure to get to me while waiting, I caught cruise instead. People on Twitter were expecting me to say something or react, instead, I tweeted a full stop. See RT’s. I tweeted rose emoji, eagle emoji, the same number of insane RT’s. I tweeted starboy elepon malu just to see how far I could take it, and still the same insane RT’s. I was having so much fun that day while some people thought I was worried sick.
John eventually came online and I sent the video to him. He acknowledged both our videos and posted mine on his page. I even reached out to the other guy [Lekan Kingkong] that it’d be beneficial to work together. After that incident, we did videos together and now, we are really close; his followers have even helped my brand.
I learned two things from that incident, firstly, the power of social media when mixed with controversy. From that incident, I gained 12,000 followers. I got so many notifications that my phone started to hang. The phone that was not complete before and I was managing the O.S, they wanted to finish it for me. Secondly, I processed that this was John Boyega. I did work for actual John Boyega and I was proud of myself because I didn’t wake up thinking I’d do stuff with him that day. At the end of the day, it’s just the grace of God. And my prayer is that it continues to cover all of us.
I have work in the pipeline, I’m working on a few things with some big companies and people. I have plans to start doing 30 mins skits of pure audio comedy. I’m looking forward to being signed by one of the biggest talent management companies in Nigeria, the future looks bright.
Today, which is the only thing I have control over, I’m going down to the bar to share laughs and drink a bottle of Guinness with friends.
O ti ye eh – You understand me, right?
Ji! ma sun – Wake up and smell the coffee [be alert]