Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni, is an online comedian with a following of 107,000 on Instagram. He tells TOLUWALOPE KAREEM about the highlights of his career
You have featured in a number of movies and soap operas, why did you leave that and delve into posting skits on social media?
I am an actor and I can interpret any character I want. I have been an actor doing movies and soap operas for as long as I can remember. It took a while for me to decide to start online comedy. I always said I could never do it because of my level of education in Creative Arts and the fact that I was already being featured in movies and soap operas. At some point, the movie roles were no longer coming in and it began to seem like one didn’t know what one was doing and I began to get frustrated. I would then get on Instagram and see the likes of Broda Shaggi, Maraji, and others doing their stuff and people were really enjoying them. I thought to myself that I could also do what they were doing. But even after I said that to myself, I didn’t start immediately, I was still lost in my ego. I couldn’t imagine myself doing comedy skits.
A company had reached out to one of my producers that they needed someone to make a short YouTube video and that was how the Mr Macaroni series came about. But before the ‘sugar daddy’ character I currently play, I played the character of an old school teacher. That was the character I used to create content for that company. However, it wasn’t attracting a lot of attention, so I decided to start by creating new content for Instagram. And that was how I found myself doing skits.
When did you notice you had a flair for comedy?
It didn’t occur to me as comedy– it occurred to me as acting. I was just creating ideas in my mind and trying as much as possible to make it interesting to anyone that would watch them. I have always had a flair for acting since I was a child. Back then when we got back from church, we would watch Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s programme on television. I see him as someone who is very charismatic and energetic. After the programme, I would repeat everything he said and everybody would laugh.
What fond memories do you have of your childhood?
I was born in Lagos into a family of 10. My father is a journalist– he used to broadcast news on the television and my mother is an educationist. At some point, my father used to be a performer– he used to do some things at the theatre. My childhood was really simple. I remember always asking people to call me a pastor so I could pray for them. I was inspired by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and I used to imitate everything he did.
In your skits, you are always attracted to well-endowed ladies. Is it safe to say that is who you are really?
The actor or performer draws his materials from the things in his immediate environment and sometimes, one can want the actor and character to become one for the process of drama to be complete. I am not like that but I love women, though not in the way that people would think. I love women because I have six sisters; I grew up around women.
Most of my skits are satirical. I try to mimic society and pass across messages with those characters. I have seen a lot of men that are exactly like that, randy in nature.
Have you ever been chastised for any of your skits?
Of course, I have. There is nothing one would do that wouldn’t have critics. I’m not weary of criticisms but I want constructive criticisms. When you try to criticise me and you insult me, I might get upset. You don’t have to like what I do but you can tell me the reasons you do not like it in the most sensible way. But honestly, I can count how many times I have been criticized; it is not often. There are times I make videos that are different from my usual themes and I get comments from people saying the skits are boring simply because I didn’t include ladies.
You must have been getting naughty requests from women because of your kind of skits. What have been some of your encounters with such ladies?
I am a virgin and I take my virginity very seriously (laughs). Honestly, I get a lot of requests and they make me laugh. When I get requests like that, I see it as appreciation of my work. I feel it is their best way of appreciating my work. I always try to be as polite as possible. I might engage one or two of them but there are some messages I don’t reply.
Are you going to keep making skits, or there are other ways you intend to showcase your talent?
I believe that the Internet is the new crude oil. Social media has taken over but I still want to be able to keep acting in movies. I have always wanted to do a television series and it’s not going to be comedy. I see myself more as a performer that can create as many characters as possible. I really do not want to limit myself to online media.
In what ways has your popularity on social media translated into money for you?
It has in many ways but that just started recently. Adverts have begun to come in for me. I am also in talks with one or two people for certain deals and I’m hoping they come out well. It has been good by God’s grace and it will surely get better.
As a graduate, don’t you intend getting a white collar job?
I studied Creative Arts in school, so why would I want to get a white collar job? If I had studied Mass Communications, maybe I would have considered it.
As an online comedian, can you perform to a live audience?
I am not a stand-up comedian. I cannot be called to a show to crack jokes. I host events and can engage a crowd but I can’t do stand-up comedy. For instance, Basketmouth can crack jokes for two hours but that is not me.
Do you have any regrets?
There are some things one would look back at and wouldn’t be so proud of. My whole life has been a movie. Before I graduated from Redeemers University, I had been to three universities. I am a non-conformist. I don’t conform to rules and regulations that don’t make sense. Most of the things I could see as regrets were the issues I had when in school, but on another hand, I still don’t see them as regrets I just see them as a learning process.
Is it safe to say you are a stubborn person?
You wouldn’t be wrong to say that and that is because people say it a lot to me. I don’t things just because every other person is doing it.
You mentioned that you attended three different schools before going to Reedemers University, why was that?
The first school I went to, I was studying Law. Studying law changed me– I became more confrontational and aggressive, especially when airing my concerns. In my first university, I was in 200 level when we heard on the news that the law department in the university wasn’t accredited. We had to call for a meeting to understand the situation but the school was so nonchalant about it. At some point, people began to leave the school and I also left.
I left for another school to study Law and it was going smoothly until the exams period when I had an issue with a lecturer. I was summoned by the authorities and was asked to leave the school for some time until they came to a final decision. I wasn’t expressly expelled but I decided to leave. It was later my friends informed me that my name came out on the result sheet.
I moved to the third school and I had already made up my mind to study Creative Arts instead of Law. I resumed at the university and I was called by the Dean of Student Affairs informing me that they had actually not started Creative Arts in the school but they had English. I was angry because I was admitted to study Creative Arts. I had to leave after a year.
All these were private schools. My parents didn’t want me to attend a federal university because they feared I would be more stubborn there.
I got a transcript from the school and proceeded to another university, and even before graduating from there, I still had an issue with the school.
In your final year, you were almost expelled from Reedemers University despite all you had gone through. Did you at any point feel like you had failed in life?
On the contrary, I expected everything that happened. However, everything is fine and I have attended events at the school and we are now best of friends. But then, I knew everything would play out like that, so I wasn’t surprised. Maybe I went a little overboard in expressing myself but in one way or the other, I knew it wasn’t supposed to get to the level of wanting to expel me– perhaps a letter of warning would have sufficed.
If you hadn’t won the case, would you have gone to school again?
Like I said, I knew that I was definitely going to get my certificate but if that had happened, I definitely would have gone to another school to complete my education, although it wouldn’t have been in Nigeria. Education is very important. After attending four universities, I would have been motivated to definitely get the certificate.
How did those experiences shape the person you have become today?
It is one of those things that have given me the strength to keep pushing. I see myself as a strong person who doesn’t give up. All those things strengthened and taught me that whatever one must achieve whatever one sets one mind to.
How do your parents react to you being an online comedian?
Recently, my father told me that on a (WhatsApp) group chat he belongs to, someone posted my video to the group and they were all laughing. He felt really proud and he couldn’t even comment, although people on the platform didn’t know I was his son. My parents have been really supportive.