They may not be, like some of their peers, on big stages at Eko Hotel but Emmanuella and her disturbingly oblivious uncle, Mark Angel, are the Prince and Princess of Nigerian comedy.
The numbers don’t lie. Last year, Youtube handed the duo a plaque for reaching a million subscribers in Nigeria. Since then, they have added 600,000 more subscribers.
The average Emmanuella video gets 600 thousand and a million views on Youtube within its first week of release. That doesn’t take into consideration the views from hosting sites and random broadcasts on terrestrial and web television.
For some, the duo is an acquired taste. But that is not the majority. The majority, all men, women and children of them, is why the channel’s videos have been watched a grand total of 369,993,153 times as of the time of writing this.
Comedy is the business of making people laugh. And Emmanuella’s success is based on targeting a Nigerian sense of humour.
Emmanuella reminds you of child stars from wayyy back
A good number of Emmanuella’s fans are, believe or not, from the older generation. For them, her sense of humour is reminiscent of old Nigerian humour from an era that they associate with happy personal memories.
In the past, Nigerian movies and television shows were sprinkled with child actors with a larger than life personality that they used to pull off tricks and make jokes.
Emmanuella’s skits are cut from the same cloth. For a lot of those people, she reminds them of actors like SomadimaAdinma who was also ready to be the smart guy in the movie until he had to be mischievous.
Emmanuella, particularly, has a personality that is very similar. A lot of the things she does can seem mean at times, but she pulls them off because there is a difference between mischief and being sinister and downright evil.
Mischief is basically playful misbehaviour which can be funny at times, and being sinister or bad hearted is just annoying.
Most of Emmanuella’s actions come off as the mischievous acts of a very interesting person so it is easy for us to shake our heads at her and laugh while ignoring any abrasive parts of the joke.
For instance, take the skit where she meets a group of schoolmates and after a small run-in with them, she threatens to beat them, all 8 or so girls who are larger than her in size.
She starts to talk big, but instead of settling the score, she lures them to her house, saying she doesn’t want to stain her uniform.
On getting home, she asks them to wait for it, it being the beating that they deserve. The next shot shows Emmanuella, her bag beside her, eating out of a bowl of popcorn and watching television.
It’s mean but it’s also more mischievous than anything else.
Everyone loves a funny child
The fact that she is a child or a young person also helps. It’s interesting when an old man like Mr Ibu, visibly drunk steals a vital part of his neighbour’s car and hides under a tree, but everyone knows there’s something wrong with him.
When an 8-year old does something wrong and makes a funny face to avoid being recognised by her classmates, . The questions that come to our mind are why does this child think like this? How can a young person be so funny?
It allows us to set low expectations for her that she surpasses at every try.
Everything is funny but it’s even funnier when a young person does it.
While Emmanuella and Mark Angel practically own YouTube Nigeria, there is an entire batch of comedians on the same platform, as well as Instagram and Facebook.
They are some of the funniest of the bunch, granted but the Mark Angel guys have also helped their chances by creating videos that are easy to share with others.
Mark Angel has hacked the sharing game
The videos are relatively short and easy to consume, between available everywhere. On blogs, social media and perhaps, most importantly, Whatsapp.
Remember Daniel Kaluuya from “Get Out” – the Hollywood movie where a black man is tortured by the racist family of the woman he’s getting married to?
In an interview with WIRED, an American magazine, the actor was asked what the last video he saw on Youtube was.
“My mom sends me so many flippin’ videos”, he said. “Look there’s an African one…”
Then he stretched his phone across the screen and played one of Emmanuella’s videos.
If that is not winning, I don’t know what is.
It’s easy to say Emmanuella is so popular because Nigerians are not intelligent enough blah blah blah.
But on every video, she gets at least something right; it could be a punchline or a witty response to an older person that is too stunned to clap back.
So, drop the cynicism and let her show you why none of what you see is actually her real face.