COVID-19 was good for entertainers, it forced out better in us — Asiri

Damilare Osundare is a man of many parts. He is a comedian, master compere, life coach/motivational speaker and entreprenuer. In this interview with ROTIMI IGE, he speaks about the comedy industry, how to remain relevant in the industry, his interest in film making and why he is very particular about mentorship.

You wear many caps as an entertainer and entreprenuer. Tell us about how you handle them all.

Let’s just say that over the years, I have found a way to leverage on my diverse giftings for expression. It was challenging at first, having dual expression but over the years I have mastered the act of delineation. I respond based on the part of me where demand is being placed. I have committed to the discipline to be different. part of me. The discipline to be a writer is different from the discipline to be a MC, same with the discipline to be a comedian. For me, it is about engaging the discipline to be optimum in my diverse expressions

You and Woli Arole were one of the first online/Instagram skit makers and made it popular. How did you start all that?

Yes, we were part of the few pioneers of Instagram comedy skits then. The good old days of 15 seconds. Platforms were scarce then. The same names and faces dominated the industry. There was a need for disruption hence there won’t be emergence. We discovered the power was in our pocket which was our smartphone. The phone became a platform. This demystified the normal order of emergence in the industry. My greatest joy every day is the countless people that have benefited from this disruption. Almost every month, new names emerge in the online space. Fame is no longer difficult if your content is rock solid.

What is your advice for the new faces in the online space?

The online market, sadly, is a slimy one. It is not a market that crowns anyone for long. It is very easy to be an ex-champion as a social media sensation. It is an actively revolving market. They have to understand the science of sustainability. It is not enough to go viral. It is not enough to amass the views. What is the strength of your brand when the viral status disappears. Are people still reckoning with you five, 10 years down the line? Evolution is key. I have evolved into different things over the years. One of this, is my comedy club, ‘Humorality’. We have record attendance weekly and this month, we are celebrating two years of providing quality laughs and raising comic models.

Tell us about your pet projects…

Based on the unlikely nature of my emergence, I have always committed to the growth of startups and new entrants. The struggle of startups and acceptance resonates with my journey. ‘Humorality’ club, for instance, has over 18 comedians on its bill, most of whom gain their footings through the weekly platforms. Some of them have their own steady clientèle now.

I also have a tribe dedicated to startups called the ‘Mystery tribe’. We offer them funding as well as high class business coaching free. Few months ago, we distributed equipment worth millions in cash to distinguishing members of the tribe. We have been able to rally support from great individuals and organisations in the society to keep the tribe flourishing.

Tell us more about you are as a writer?

I have published two best sellers; ‘Asiri mystery’ and ‘Anticipation: Fire of process’. The books have been adopted as premium resources across diverse fields of endeavours. I have also released three other ebooks that have offered sustainable solutions to the peculiar challenges of this generation. I am a work-in-progress and I am just starting. A lot is still brewing.

What challenges have you identified in the comedy industry?

The comedy industry in Nigeria is not yet living up to the full potential of mentorship. There is still a lot to achieve with time. A special shoutout to the great names that have selflessly dedicated their platforms for new ones to emerge.  I dream of a time when comedy clubs will be a culture in Nigeria like it is abroad. A time where comedians can weekly stage shows without waiting for the overwhelming, chaotic and financially draining concerts we stage, in the name of shows. In the real sense of comedy, we don’t need tables in comedy shows but then you don’t have a choice when you have already spent millions in planning. You have to recoup through tables. It is funny how COVID 19 came and now is forcefully realigning the priorities of the industry.

The greatest challenge of the industry now is the clamp down on social gatherings especially in Lagos. I am glad that it has occasioned reinvention. Many are now exploring virtual shows, sitcoms etc. This will place more premium on contents. As the audience are now doubly concentrated online. This is a dangerous time for anyone to be invisible online.

You are also interested in films…

I do have interest in film. I am working hard to be better. In the right time I believe I will make my mark in the space

How have you coped through the pandemic as an entertainer?

The pandemic made us better. It forced innovation out of us.

What is next for you post-COVID 19?

I am commited more than ever to develop mankind through my skill set.

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