I could have sworn she was having an asthma attack. Her eyes were bulging out of their sockets while her breath wheezed in a fretting manner. She was bent over, clutching her belly while trying very hard to win the fight against gravity. A few minutes later she collapsed next to me, her snorts and giggles morphing into guffaws. The pain in my stomach had began to subside but every time my eyes flitted towards Otis’ face, the palpitating feeling in my sides came back with a vengeful force as my laughter rumbled within the room. My aunt and I were in a state of hilarious enchantment, Flaqo 411 had done it again.
Erastus Ayieko Otieno aka Flaqo 411 is a multi talented twenty-four year old who is using his skills and raw talent to create his own empire. He has different monikers that serve varied personalities, my all time favorite being ‘Mama Otis’ of course.
Having graduated from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology in 2018 with a degree in Public Health, this jack of all trades decided to scratch the surface of his life long dream; entertainment. In August 2018, the young lad did a rushed video and posted it. He had taken the advantage of his mother going grocery shopping (classic Otis huh?). Little did he know that this video would skyrocket him in the content creating industry.
It’s not always easy sloughing off the societal/parental bred skin that has been placed on you. Once you begin studying to become an economist or a doctor or an engineer, people expect you to follow through with that because you are going to school for it, you are gaining skills for it. So how then do you convince them that you can succeed in a totally different industry in which you have zero training for?
We hear multiple cases of entertainers abandoning their degrees or once upon a time paths so as to follow through with their passions. The thing is, breaking out in what you love is not easy. Yes, you might have the passion for it, you might be willing to burn the midnight candle for it but sometimes it doesn’t work out as expected and you wind up blowing off that candle, giving up on your dream. Well, Flaqo was bold enough to cultivate his dream. First within the cocoon that is his mind and then presenting his talents to an actual audience. It took careful planning, hard work, creativity and passion. Now Flaqo has thousands of followers in multiple social media platforms with several brands knocking at his door. And he is not done yet. While the rest of us are seeing the tip of an iceberg, Flaqo is not only seeing the whole length of the berg but also all the contents within the wide spread ocean. To him, it’s all in the planning.
So where did his journey start, had he always known he wanted to do comedy, who does he look up to and how is he serving as an inspiration to our generation?
In an interview earlier this year with Thomas Rajula from Nation’s Buzz, Flaqo shared his journey in the murky path that is entertainment. As it turns out, this talented lad had initially intended to break out in the music industry as an R&B artist. Having molded himself after August Alsina, Flaqo confessed that he had always wanted to do music but that the Kenyan industry was not as welcoming on that end. He said that this particular industry was already concentrated with a lot of talented artists, his intention of capturing his audience would have then been a pipe dream. He opted to try his hand in comedy instead, clearly it paid off.
Flaqo also shared that him doing comedy came as a shock to many people since he had always been reserved throughout his life. He did disclose that all what he is doing now is as a result of slow cultivation of ideas in his mind. Apparently, he used to see all sorts of things around him and he would script them in his head. He was slowly molding a baby that is his unique comedy.
His love for King Batch, Dope Island and Kenny Knox led him to this path. He began shooting and editing the videos using an outdated phone and later posting them on YouTube. They did not spark up the reaction he had expected so he took them down. He then went on YouTube and began learning from DIY editing videos.
His first viral video was of his character ‘Mama Otis’. A lot of Kenyans related with the character having grown up under the reign of similar mother figures. It was hilarious and unique, people especially got compelled by his ability to play varied characters at the same time. The first viral video, however, was mostly popular in Kisumu. What propelled him to nationwide fame was his first celebrity impersonation video (Khaligraph Jones praying), Kenyans went wild. He gained 10,000 followers on Instagram that day.
Flaqo takes time to read the comments below every posted video so as to gauge the general reception of his opus. He uses this data to improve his art. He also weaves out his characters from real life people. For example ‘Baba Otis’ is a merge of his high school principal, his own father and his friend’s father.
In the interview, Flaqo told Thomas that this year he was aiming for 100,000 followers on Instagram and 50,000 YouTube subscribers. Once that happens, he will begin approaching TV stations with his scripts and honestly we cannot wait to see his content on screen!
Flaqo opened up about his parent’s initial skepticism. Gradually, however, they grew supportive. He took time explaining to them that entertaining is what he truly wanted. Since then, he has been working tooth and nail to make sure he flourishes in that field. If you want to do the same, if you have a searing desire to do something different from the path set out for you, be ready to work hard for it.
Who inspires Flaqo
Now we already know that creators of Vines gave him the inspiration to soldier down this road but Flaqo has other people that inspire him. Seth Gor, Eric Omondi and Crazy Kennar are some of the comedians he has admitted to looking up to.
Flaqo is determined to achieve his dream which is writing scripts for his own TV shows like Tyler Perry.
With his fiery determination and utter dedication for what he does, I would say that Flaqo is a shoe in for achieving his dream.
Why he is an inspiration to our generation
When COVID-19 struck, many people lost track of where they were going. It was like everyone’s gusto had been dimmed, their ambitions shaken. Retrenchment was on the rise as varied businesses closed, campus students became star struck on where to move to next; the nation was in chaos as the future increasingly became bleak. Some people, however, didn’t lose their footing. They improvised.
Being a content creator means that you can whip up consistent, catchy content that will glue people on their devices, craving for more. Usually the people in this field have calendars that schedule what will be launched and when the launching will take place. This ensures that they stay afloat and trending. When the pandemic broke out, some content creators felt that their plans had been botched while others simply improvised.
I was watching Flaqo’s video on “When parents come home too early” and I recall thinking how creative it was. It had the aspect of relatability, current trends and his usual cherry on the cake; belly clutching humor.
Flaqo has done multiple videos during this period and they have all played a part in lighting our dark days.
In another interview, Flaqo shared his creative process. He said that he usually starts with a mental picture of the contents of the video, the appearance of the video and what time the video will be posted.
After that he goes on to craft a script that will entail every intricate detail. He then shoots and proceeds to edit. He expressed his desire of presenting refined work to the public, something close to perfection. A two-minute clip can take him a whole day to edit. In short, the guy takes his time to perfect his art. He carefully plans his work, ensuring that the end product will be worthwhile.
Flaqo has worked with Samsung and is currently working with Yola and Airtel. Even when working for these brands, our favorite entertainer has to ensure that his content doesn’t come across as an ad. He ignites life into it.
Flaqo is an inspiration to our generation because he reminds us that hard work actually pays and that failing to plan is planning to fail. He is organized in what he does, always staying ten steps ahead. We are all excited to see what he has for us in the near future!
Here are fun facts about Flaqo;
Apart from being hilarious, the guy can bust moves.
His ‘Bakari’ character resembles Charlie Chaplin.
He has a music studio in Mambo Leo, Kisumu called Hitites where he and fellow artistes go to record music.
He is very reserved, his real life personality couldn’t be more different from his video personalities.
He was initially planning to go to campus after campus to do stand up comedy but he went viral before that.
He was born on Christmas day.
His nickname “Flaqo” stems from his high school days. It is Italian for “Skinny”.
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