Mark Angel: I Once Cried On Set, Work In Nollywood
Africa’s biggest YouTuber, Mark Angel speaks with Punch NG about his personal life and how he started the popular Mark Angel Comedy YouTube Channel.
As at July 2020, Mark Angel has 6.40 million subscribers and one billion total views on his 300+ videos on YouTube.
Popular comedian and founder of the Mark Angel Comedy, Mark Angel, speaks about his passion and foray into comedy.
How long have you been into entertainment?
I started professionally in 2011 after doing photography for a while. Before that, I was a member of a theatre group, Gingertainment and we performed stage dramas, especially comedy. We went from school to school. After studying cinematography in India, I joined Nollywood. I did a couple of productions, but my Nollywood experience was a bit brief because of my mum. She is an evangelist and she was sceptical about some of the movies I edited. I then sought other ways to channel my talent. I also worked as a security guard. My friend, Dennison Igwe, suggested that we start our own media company. We did skits which we put on the Internet but it was not successful. We did what we loved for fun and not for money.
What was growing up with your mum like?
She always said the reason God gave us our talent was to promote His cause, and that the devil would do everything possible to destroy it. Whenever we shoot any skit, my mum is usually the first person to screen it. We have shot some videos and condemned same simply because a lady wore revealing clothes in it. It is difficult to get content that is completely decent. She motivates me to think and she is creative too. In fact, I think she is more of a comedian than I am. My dad is a private person and he is also a Christian.
What year did you found Mark Angel Comedy?
We commenced business officially in 2013. My production company, Mechanic Pictures, used to shoot photos and videos for movie and comedy productions. As we progressed, we started to narrow our objectives. I would like to shoot a feature film/comedy sooner or later. We also want to create clean comedy content for children.
What did you study at the university?
I did not attend any university. I gained admission to study Medicine at Obafemi Awolowo University in 2008, but my uncle, who I imagined would sponsor my education passed away about the same time. I could not go to school that year and I came to Lagos to stay with a friend. I knew I was not ready for school and I decided not to go to school again. I do not regret my decision because I would not have found fulfilment practising as a doctor.
How did you discover Emmanuella?
When she was born, we realised she was capable of being influenced positively. She did everything she was told to do even though she was really young. Also, we realised that she was talented. We simply groomed her and introduced her to showbiz.
Is she your daughter?
No, she is not. She is my niece. She has lived with my family ever since she was born even though her parents are alive. We are a large family and we lived together in the past.
How do you get Emmanuella to memorise her lines?
We try to make her form a mental picture of whatever we want her to do. She in turn interprets it the best way she understands it. Sometimes, we have to go through the process over and over again before accomplishing what we want. As a smart child, she asks why she is made to do a particular thing in a particular way and we explain to her.
What are some of the challenges you encounter while working with her?
It takes a lot of patience to work with children. She is not the only child in the company; there are some other children too. She has the tendency to skip her lines but she still comes back to it. Every now and then, we end up not achieving anything when we go to shoot. She likes to gist with her friends and has a way of infusing whatever she discussed with her friends into her lines. We try not to shoot in the presence of other children. Anytime she does not get anything right, I just let her be or let her sleep. I do not know how it happens but whenever she wakes up from sleep, she gets everything right. Some time ago, I cried on set.
Why did you cry?
One day we were rehearsing for the This is not my real face skit. There were about 27 children on set and they could not get anything right for about three hours. I instructed them not to look at the camera, but they kept looking at it. We had only one day to shoot, edit and distribute. I was frustrated and started to cry. I did not know what happened even though we had prayed. She walked up to me and told me not to give up on them and that they would get everything right. It took me a while to recover. That was the most emotional moment of my life. She said it would be the best video. Immediately she said that, all the other children picked up and we did not spend more than 30 minutes. It happened like magic.
Why did you not opt for stand-up comedy?
Most of my stand-up comedy shows are private gigs. Mostly, I write for comedians. I get the opportunity to do stand-up comedy when I rehearse the comedy. It also helps me to edit them before I send to the comedians.
How much does a piece cost?
It depends on the length and laughter quotient of the piece. It ranges from N100, 000 to N300, 000. A rhyme piece can be cheaper but a real comedy knockout costs more. It depends also on how urgently the comedian needs a new material.
How did you take advantage of social media to promote your content?
It is difficult to promote your content through traditional media. The Internet is booming and I studied the market as well. I also noticed no marketer would want to market any content from an unknown producer. Also, it is cheaper and there are so many bloggers too. I still pay to put up my materials on blogs. God’s grace has been there for me too. Internet is the future of arts and entertainment.
Are you threatened by competition?
I am not. I do not do comedy as a business but for fun. I do not see anyone as competition.
How do you come up with the content?
I do not want to sound too religious but they just come from God.