online comedian, Mark Angel, the owner of the Mark Angel Comedy and kid
comedienne, Emmanuella, his right hand, are prominent on the social
media for their comic skits. Their short videos have continued to go
viral on major online platforms where they have become household names.
In this interview, the Port Harcourt-based comic acts tell NEWTON
RAY-UKWUOMA about the journey, passion and life as online comedians.
Yes. Mark Angel is both my real and stage name. My surname is Angel
and my first name is Mark. I live in Port Harcourt. I am a showbiz
entertainer. I come from Orlu in Imo State.
Emmanuella, introduce yourself.
My name is Emmanuella, but you can also call me Ella. I attend
Brighten Primary and Secondary School in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
I am in Basic One. And I am five years old. I love watching cartoons. I
like games. I have many of them. I like eating. This is not my real
When did you start doing comedy?
Mark:We started making comedy in 2011. We opened our official social
media accounts on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and launched
the Mark Angel Comedy company in 2013.
What inspired the Mark Angel Comedy group?
First, we started by just calling friends together. I come from a
Nollywood background. I am a cinematographer. I grew up seeing people
make movies in Surulere. I have done some productions. I am also a film
editor. But Nollywood wasn’t what I wanted initially. My dream was to be
in a position to create contents that will sell African culture and
values to the world. So, I decided to begin with short films. I felt it
was an opportunity to enhance my knowledge of cinematography.
Did you factor in comedy from the beginning?
Yes, though I wanted to do short films, my genre was comedy. I like
to laugh a lot. And I like to stay around people who make me laugh. That
was how we started putting videos together. We compiled a lot of it. We
tried to be consistent, to learn from every shoot and to work on
improving the next. We did that for a couple of years before opening the
social media accounts for people to see.
At what point did you start getting surprised by the views your videos were generating?
I think it was in 2015. One of our videos got so much attention in
days on Youtube and other platforms. That really motivated us to do
more. The video hit a million views in three days. I think it was
because we had established ourselves on social media before then. Before
then our videos had gone viral and because we did not have social
media accounts, nobody knew the source. It was a big lesson for us. That
was why we opened the social media accounts. We started linking people
back to the source.
Was Emmanuella in the picture then?
Yes. The video that got us a lot of mileage was the one Emmanuella was featured.
What is the title of the short film?
It was the ‘Landlord’ video.
The one the landlord wanted to collect his rent?
Yes. That video gave us a lot of presence online. After that, we did a
couple of other videos with Emmanuella, including “This is not my real
face.” God used that video to bring out her brand.
At what point did you decide to use Emmanuella as the main face of Mark Angel comedy?
A lot of things kept unfolding. My approach about comedy kept
changing every day. I noticed that she was getting attention and that
was because there was a huge vacuum in the comedy industry: a lot of
children didn’t have content to consume. Using Emmanuella became very
strategic as we wanted to also reach the children.
Let me paraphrase, I mean, how did you find Emmauella? What is your relationship with her?
It is a long story.
That is why I am here.
Emmanuella is a family friend. On one occasion she came for a
long-term holiday at the family house in Port Harcourt. She was one of
the kids who came around me. I love kids. I discovered that I connected a
lot with her. She would know when I was around and when I was not
around. She was younger than the kids that come close to me, yet she
made me laugh the most. I used to watch “Kids Say the Damnedest Thing”,
an American programme. I began to see Emmanuella in the characters of
that programme. Emmauella can say a lot of things and she was
spontaneous. I enjoyed having her around. I would ask her a lot of
questions. There was a time I needed kids for a shoot. I called some
kids for audition. I was thinking of using her for a show, not the
shoot, a stand-up comedy show. I was already branding her for a
character that time, because she was spontaneous. When the kids came I
selected three. I was trying to feed them the lines for the shoot, but
they weren’t getting them. It was for one comedy called “Who Mess?”
feeling frustrated, I called Emmanuella to come and try. She was just
playing while the kids were struggling. In minutes, she was taking the
lines off them. Then, I asked two of the kids to go home. I then started
training her and the other kid. I found out that Emmanuella had talent,
though it did not show at that time. Not many people could see what I
saw in Emmanuella. I think God helped me see that. She was a child. She
did not know what she had. So, we used her in that video, a video we
spent eighteen hours shooting. She endured all through the time. I
deliberately refused to give them lunch. I wanted to know the strength
of the kids. I wanted to know which kid would complain first. Emmanuella
did not complain. She was excited about the whole thing. Just because
of her excitement I confirmed that this kid had what I wanted. We spent
18 hours to shoot one short film that lasted three minutes. After that
video, I met her parents. We had a long chat about her future, about
fame. It took a lot of convincing to finally get their approval. That
was how we started.
How has it been working with a kid?
I always try to allow her a lot of freedom. I allow her to behave
like the child she is, though we carefully tell her that she is a
Emmanuella, how did you feel when you were asked to act?
Emmanuella: There was a time my uncle (Mark Angel) was calling other
kids to act. He didn’t invite me but I joined them. I was happy to act.
When he called me, I gave him an apple so that he would allow me to act.
You mean, you bribed your uncle? Did he collect it?
Emmanuella: No. He said that I was ready to act.
Mark Angel: I forgot that. Emmanuella bribed me with an apple.
How did you know you could act?
Emmanuella: I just knew it. The spirit of God told me I can act.
How did the spirit of God tell you?
Emmanuella: Sometimes I would pray and in my dream I will be acting. I
just noticed that I was funny. I was two years old when I started
acting comedy drama in school and in the church.
Mark, what are you doing to enhance her talent?
For now, I want her to grow into it without knowing so much. She does
not know the full impact of what she is doing. I want her to have a
normal childhood. So, I am not trying to mould her in any way. I just
allow her to have fun on camera. She told me that she wants to be a
fashion designer. So, right now, there is someone taking her through it.
She is learning fashion designing and make-up. She likes make-up too.
Emmanuella is going to move from online platform to mainstream
Nollywood. That is what we are working on right now.
Do you make money from the online platforms?
Not much. Right now, money has not started coming from the internet.
The only thing we get is some money from Youtube, which we use for
upkeep and all other expenses.
In spite of the views, why don’t you make money from your videos?
The truth is that to make money from the internet, your views would
have to be generated from a single source, that is, your account on
Youtube. Most of our views are generated from popular channels, from
bloggers. Not many people knew that we had a channel even. So, when we
upload from our channel, it is circulated on other channels so that when
the video gets a million views in a day, the million views may be from
these internet gurus and we may get about 100,000 views.
In other words, people make money from your videos?
Yes. Sometime ago, someone sent me a mail. He was honest with me. He
told me that in total he had made $18,600 at that time from circulating
our videos online. He said he had a channel dedicated for our comedy.
How does that make you feel?
It gives me a good feeling actually. I asked if he was Nigerian. He
said, he is a Nigerian leaving in Spain. He was thanking me. He said he
wanted to send me some money. Much later, he sent some money to
Emmanuella. It made me happy to see that we are doing something that can
employ Nigerians. Beside satisfying our fans, our goal is to create
jobs for people. There are people who are living off our comedy. There
are people who depend on it to make a living. And we can’t afford to
Do you have a car?
Do you have a house?
Where do you live?
I live with my parents.
You live with your parents after years of doing comedy?
Yes. The thing is you cannot force anything to happen. What I have
decided to do is to work and work. No matter what happens I will
continue to work. I don’t think we have worked enough.
What is your educational background?
I am an SSCE holder. I dropped out of Medicine because of this. I really don’t like talking about it.
People would like to know you better. Do you mean you dropped out of school for showbiz?
I was studying Medicine at the Obafemi Awolowo University. It was in
my second year that I felt I needed to leave. It was not only because of
showbiz, I wasn’t getting much financial support. I asked myself one
day, after I watched Basket Mouth perform here in Surulere, if his
education got him where he was. That question changed my life. I went
back to school, picked just my bag and left. I left Osun State to Lagos
and did not go back. My roommates took the rest of my property. I went
to learn cinematography.
Now, do you want to go back to school?
Yes. I miss school sometimes. I will go back to school someday.
Whenever I decide to return to school it wouldn’t be to study Medicine,
but Business Administration. There is something about school that I am
missing, that is affecting my approach to my business.
When people meet you for the first time what do they say to you?
Emmanuella: They say, “Emmanuella, I have watched your comedy”.
And what do you tell them?
Emmanuella: I will say, “This is not my real face oh!” It makes happy. In fact, I am always excited when people wave at me.