Maryam Apaokagi-Greene (Taaooma) by Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe
She can play a dozen characters in one skit, but her most famous role is a strict mother who slaps her daughter for any reason. We’re pretty sure we won’t meet resistance when we call her the Queen of Nigerian online comedy. She is Taooma, the slap-happy comedian who rules Nigerian social media.
Several reasons make Maryam Apaokagi-Greene, p.k.a Taaooma, iconic. For one, her videos slap —literally. But that’s not the only reason she’s an icon. It’s also because she broke into the scene when skit-making was primarily a boys’ club in Nigeria. “There is always something that’ll make you want to watch Tao,” she told Ventures Africa. “I’ve been able to carve a niche for myself, and people know me for that niche.”
Taaooma started making videos in 2015 as a hobby while studying mass communication at Kwara State University. She learned how to edit and shoot videos from her boyfriend (now husband), Abdulaziz Greene, who is also a filmmaker and her manager. “Editing was my actual interest,” she said. “I only started making videos because I needed clips to edit.”
She rose to fame in 2019 when her skits went viral on social media, especially her signature slap scenes that poke fun at Nigerian culture and everyday life. Today, she is Nigeria’s top female skit maker by follower count and engagements. “Consistency has been a big hack for me. When people know they can always rely on you for content, you don’t only earn followers: you earn trust.”
Mr. Macaroni (Adebowale Adedayo) by Ishioma Imokhai-Bello
Adebowale “Debo” Adedayo, widely recognized as Mr. Macaroni embarked on his creative journey within Nigeria’s bustling film industry. Early on in his career, Adedayo often only got minor roles, testing his determination. However, his resolve remained unshaken. A pivotal moment came when an ordinary role gave birth to the iconic moniker “Mr. Macaroni,” synonymous with wit and satire.
In 2019, Adedayo ventured into skit-making, breathing life into characters like “Daddy Wa” and “Professor Hard Life” through his Mr. Macaroni Series. These skits intricately blended humour with incisive commentary, reflecting the complexities of everyday Nigerian life. Initially hesitant about content creation, Adedayo leapt in, crafting each skit as a meticulously painted mural that portrayed societal issues while weaving thought-provoking and entertaining satire.
Amidst laughter and growing recognition, Adedayo’s impact expanded. He received prestigious awards, including The Future Awards Africa for Content Creation and the City People Music Award for Comedy Act. Recently, he added the TrendUpp Force of Influence Award to his collection, solidifying his role in the entertainment realm. As his journey progressed, Adedayo showcased his theatrical talents, securing dynamic roles in Nollywood blockbusters such as Jadesola Osiberu’s “Ayinla,” “Brotherhood,” “Gangs of Lagos,” and Kunle Afolayan’s “Anikulapo“.
Beyond the limelight, Adedayo embodies more than humour. He’s a beacon of social activism, championing human rights and justice causes. His pivotal role during the 2020 #EndSARS protests underscored his commitment to positive change. Adedayo voiced his sincerity in a candid interview on the Nancy Isime Show. “My ideology about life is that people should not do things that would hurt others.” This essence – his compassion, creativity, and kindness – defines his journey as Mr. Macaroni, a name that now resonates far beyond screens in the hearts he touches and the narratives he shapes.
Isaac Olayiwola (Layi Wasabi) by Oluwatosin Ogunjuyigbe
Fans of Layi Wasabi, the stage name of Isaac Olayiwola, go wild with interpretation whenever he releases his art. They eagerly look for hidden meanings, even when he creates them without such intention. Why? Because Layi Wasabi has grown a reputation for making “smart comedy,” hence, it’s easy for his fans to anatomize meaning where none had been intended.
Layi Wasabi’s comic skits have an overall noiselessness that separates him from the pack. The typical Nigerian comic video is often laced with high sonic energy to guide the viewers’ reactions and keep their attention. Instead, the 22-year-old chooses a minimalist approach, where the absence of artificial sound effects and his filming style create a more ‘natural’ environment for his viewers.
Layi has also strategically leveraged meme culture through his satire skits and a laconic persona dressed in a (green, black and grey-coloured) traditional lace outfit. This approach has made him one of the fastest-growing creators in the last year. Layi grew from less than 20,000 followers in early 2022 to a million followers currently on Instagram.