Maajabu…you mean he’s only Tweeeeenty something!!!
COVID-19 aka Corona aka Rona or whatever you call it has been such a buzz killer, to say the least. A lot of things have changed since January 2020. The year that was meant to be…is a far shade from our grand plans. This was meant to be my year, so I thought. But it actually feels more like I’m part of a poorly scripted M. Night Shyamalan movie.
The lockdown had me thinking a lot about stuff. I have occupied my time in the past few months by either spending 1 million hours on Zoom calls, Netflix (and no chilling), and generally just browsing through social media. The period made me reflect a lot about family and the fond memories of spending time together. One particular memory was watching TV together as a family. On a typical Sunday evening, we would gather together to watch our favorite shows. For us this was Redykyulass.
Redykyulass were comedy pioneers who influenced modern-day Kenyan comedy. They performed skits and helped transform the narrative of our industry by making a type of comedy that was more relatable to modern-day issues. This group even had the courage to imitate then sitting President Moi. This was at a time when we couldn’t do or say much against the former citizen №1. Who does that? That is the type of radicalness the group had in them.
Their comedy was witty, relatable, and very timely. Kenya was under a strong government-run police state. The comedy they brought was a much-needed comic relief. Especially how they poked fun at politicians, police commissioners, university chancellors, etc. They made everyone look human. Boy, the country dearly needed this break.
Redykyulass was my first interaction with what I would later come to learn and understand to be sketch comedy. Their show could be compared to the smart production of classics like Chappelle show (at least our Kenyan version of it). The creativity of the trio in getting into character and using dance, music, acting, etc was pure bliss. We were all so lucky to see the guys from Kenyatta University perform. They set the ground for what the likes of Churchill, Eric Omondi, and Jalango who all followed after.
As I journeyed back through time; watching Redykyulass, made me think of modern-day comedy in Kenya. The industry has evolved and natured a great number of great comedians. Most of who engage in stand-up comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I love stand-up comedy. But there is just something about sketches that gets me going. I happened to have stumbled on an entirely new group of Kenyan comedians who ploy their talents on social media.
If anything positive has come out of this Corona period, is the number Kenyan comedians on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. The type of comedy that these comedians deliver is raw, authentic, and unfiltered. Not your typical TV station material.
“Maajabu…you mean he’s only Tweeeeenty Three”. These are words that would be uttered by the now-famous Instagram father Baba Otis. One of the characters that have been curated by Erastus Emmanuel Otieno aka Flaqo. Little is know about the new kid in town. A Kisumu born, Nairobi based comedian, who started to do his comedy a little under 2 years ago.
Flaqo is witty, outrageously talented, and has the creative knack that is comparable to the likes of Redykyulass. Using humor and fusing his multi-talented and multi-faceted comedy for us to enjoy a grand show. He is able to deploy his trade using sketches that blend dancing, music, acting etc. While seamlessly managing to fuse different characters in his act without breaking a sweat. He is only 24 now. So, ladies and gentlemen, the fun part is that he’s only getting started.
Baba Otis’s famous phrase, “Maajabu, you mean to tell me…” will immediately draw comparisons to our own fathers, while Mama Otis his other character also played by him, will make you call your mum. He nails the two characters to the core and Mama Otis and Baba Otis are arguably the fans’ two most favorable characters. If you grew up in a Kenyan/African household, you can easily relate to his parents. Baba Otis reminds me of my own Dad, who used to be a lecturer at the university and wore a similar demeanor at home. I sometimes felt I was in one of his lecture sessions, whenever he came home.
Besides his parents, Flaqo also plays himself, Otis, obviously, and his sister Akoth. As he takes us all through their family dynamics. For some of us, its a trip down memory lane as we reminisce about the interactions between us and our parents and how we handle different issues. He is very smart in his comedy as he effortlessly navigates through topics that are pertinent to our day-to-day life. He touches on subjects like homeschooling, technology, and parenting in general.
Outside his family, he is also quite talented at imitating voices. Having done several videos on celebrities like Bahati, Bien, and the OG Khalihgraph. He has blessed the fans with several videos and most fans wake up to check on his Instagram account to see what type of material he has worked on. I like that he has fresh material almost every day and doesn’t skew his content to brands. He is at heart a comedian/entertainer first and lets the business end takes care of itself.
Flaqo has a certain ingenuity when it comes to brand association. His comedy is able to subtly place products without you feeling like its being pushed or forced on you. I loved how he fused Crown paint on Valentine’s day when Baba Otis misunderstood crowning Mama Otis as a queen with buying paint for her. Or when he didn’t pay off his full tuition and had to explain to his dad why he bought a Tecno phone. Both were done very tastefully.
At 24 I can only say the sky is the limit for this young man. His comedy is fresh and continues to keep most of us sane and entertained, especially during this period of COVID-19. I am certainly looking forward to more material and greater laughter from his work. Omera, keep up the good work, and thanks for the entertainment.
For more content on Flaqo:
Flaqo Raz @flaqo411 is an entertainer through comedy,music,content creation,live singing and aloooooot more!!!!!!!!