On Humor and Viral Content  #AkomaxSMWL

It's been scientifically proven that at the heart of viral content, you can always find a heart. The story's pulsating nerve center that elicits emotion and encourages people to share far and wide. According to The New York Times, animal videos are a favorite for some because by watching, viewers find out that animals share abilities once considered exclusive to humans, including some emotions, tool use, counting, certain aspects of language and even a moral sense. Videos used to showcase travel destinations tap into our sense of wanderlust and entrance us with blue waters and white beaches, while the numerous videos of unarmed African-Americans dying at the hands of the police go viral for a completely different reason - they serve as a stark reminder of the racial injustices that still plague the United States. 

I remember sitting in my aunty's house in Festac post high school graduation in 2010. I was toying around with my Blackberry, and although I will never remember who sent it to me,  I remember receiving a voice note of a woman crooning about how they didn't want to be a "weist." The yodel-like voice recording of Chioma Omeruah or Chigul as she is popularly known spread far and wide via BlackBerry Messenger and has resulted in a solid career for the comedian. 


Image via Genevieve Magazine
image via Genevieve Magazine

At the heart of Omeruah's short recording was the self-deprecating and outlandish humor that Nigerian's know and love. I was reminded of Omeruah's viral breakthrough during The Future of Digital Publishing: Breakthrough Storytelling- Content Marketing panel at Social Media Week Lagos. On the panel, Omeruah's brother and manager retold the story of how Omeruah made her way from Blackberry to Blackberry and built a career. After the panel, I wanted to know, what is at the heart of viral content in Nigeria? What do we tend to gravitate towards and push out into the online world?

"Nigerians seem to love comedy," said Teju Ajani, ‎Head of content partnerships, YouTube, Sub-Saharan Africa.

 "At the heart of Nigerian content that's going viral, you have content that connects with the people. Viral content has the same component everywhere in the world, but in Nigeria, I would say comedy is at the heart of the content that goes viral." 

Jadesola Osiberu. Image by Hamed Adedeji

For Jadesola Osiberu, director, producer and the mind behind one of Nigeria's most popular online comedies, Skinny Girl In Transit, the same message applies, but what makes these stories more comedic is how relatable they are to those watching. 

"People want to see their moms, their aunty's - people they know," said Osiberu.

"For instance, in Skinny Girl In Transit the mom is this over the top Yoruba woman, which a lot of people can relate to. These characters really represent us and they resonate with us in a way more established Hollywood films don't and because there has been a gap for that kind of content, that's why it goes viral." 

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