A singer, comedian and actor, Franklin Isika, aka Frankie Seeka, has 134,000 followers on Instagram. He tells BABATUNDE TUGBOBO about his career
When did you venture into comedy?
I had always been around comedians and content creators. I also used to write scripts as well. However, I formally started my comedy career in 2020.
What is the inspiration behind your character, Frankie Seeka; the boy, Kiriku; and the dog, Storm?
It came naturally being that Storm has always been the smart one when the story is about me. Kiriku is also a smart character, so I thought about having a ‘face-off’ between both of them.
One of the recurring themes in your skits is when Storm tries to expose your character or retaliate whatever wrong you did to it. What brought that about?
I have always studied dogs, vis-a-vis the way they act. I have always genuinely felt that deep down, they (dogs) think they are smarter than us (humans). For example, a dog will make certain cute faces when they want something from you. As far as I’m concerned, that is emotional blackmail. In the light of that, I thought about a world where dogs would feel more inclined to prove that they are smarter than us, and how that would play out. That was the idea behind Storm always proving to be a step ahead of my character.
Did you have any similar experiences of your skits with dogs while growing up?
Not from a dog. But, that is basically what happens when one has a younger sibling, so I relate it to having a younger one.
How do you get ideas for your skits?
I draw inspiration from different things. It could be something I saw, or what someone said. There are really a lot of funny situations around us every day. Also, I watched a lot of cartoons while growing up, and I still do.
How does it feel being a social media comedian?
I really don’t feel any different or special. Perhaps, that is because there is still so much for me to achieve. I have not even scratched the surface of all that I want to do. I still wake up every day thinking of what content to create, and how to get better and fulfill my potentials.
In the process of building your brand, have you ever been frustrated?
Yes. I feel that many people really don’t understand the hard work I put in to make my videos; from the point of writing the script to shooting the video and editing it. I have to work at least thrice as everyone else because all the things my dog does in my videos are real; no special effects. It is hard enough shooting videos with human beings; talk more of with a dog.
What are the challenges you have faced over the years?
The biggest one is the lack of resources. One needs to pay for props and even locations. Contrary to popular belief, one cannot just start creating content, and immediately begin to buy cars. That is not how it works.
It is also hard to even shoot videos in Lagos because there are always hoodlums threatening to seize one’s camera if one does not give them money. They usually claim that they are the ones who watch our skits. They want us to pay them for entertaining them, while it should be the other way round. They assume we (social media content creators) are buying cars because they watch our videos; yet, they do so for free.
Have you ever been a victim of online bullying?
Yes, I have. People have said hurtful things about me because they feel that is the way to get one’s attention. When one reacts, they would then say, “I am your number one fan. I just wanted you to reply”.
You have over 100,000 followers. How were you able to build your fan base?
It has been a gradual process. I have constantly been working to make sure I create content at least twice a week. I have also enjoyed support from people who have more followers than I do on social media. The popular music producer and record label executive, Don Jazzy, has always supported me by reposting my videos. That has also helped me to grow my audience. Social media personality, Tunde Ednut, has also been very supportive over the years.
Which of your videos brought you fame?
I really don’t think I am famous yet. I am working towards it. I actually have so many things I could be doing.
What are the efforts you put into making your skits?
I have to work thrice harder than other content creators because I’m pretty hands-on with my craft. We all want to become successful and get to a place where we have professionals shooting, editing and even writing scripts, but because of the uniqueness of my content, I might never have that luxury. I have to direct the cameraman, the cast, and my dog. I also have to be hands-on with whoever is editing on the few occasions where I am not editing the content myself.
Has any of your skits got you in trouble?
Yes. Earlier this year, I got in big trouble because I shot a skit while wearing a police uniform. I spent weeks in the State Criminal Investigation Department, and it was a horrible experience.
How were you able to secure your bail?
I reached out to Don Jazzy, who made some calls and eventually sent money to me for bail.
Did the police warn you against using their uniforms in your skits?
Yes, they warned me.
Were you told the process by which you can get approval to use police uniforms if you need them for your skits?
They said I would have to come to their office and meet the Commissioner of Police who would give me approval to use the uniforms, and I would return them after shooting my skits.
Beyond being a comedian, what other activities are you involved in?
I sell furniture and I am also into interior decoration. I believe I am a really good cook, and will like to establish eateries when I have the funds. I help people to get dogs as well.
Have you started making money from your social media contents?
I am still in the building stage of my career. There is a bit of money coming in here and there, but I am still laying the foundation for my career.
Do you have any plans to later get a white-collar job?
No. I believe in making money doing what I enjoy. I am a very creative person, so even if I am not making skits, I would always want do something that involves me creatively expressing myself.
What kind of doors has your presence on social media opened for you?
I have been able to meet some really important people that I may not have met without social media.
Do you get funny requests from women?
Not really. I think they are all scared of dogs (laughs).
What are some of the testimonies you’ve got from your fans?
The most significant is when someone said my videos make him so happy and less depressed. That meant the world to me because being someone that deals with depression myself, it felt amazing to be able to help someone facing such challenge. His message got me through that month, knowing I’m doing something to help people out there.
How do you handle negative comments on social media?
Most times, I ignore them. Sometimes, I block them, and sometimes, I respond to them and give them a piece of my mind. We are all humans. The fact that some of us are entertainers does not mean we have a thicker skin.
Have you ever wished you were as popular in real life as you are on social media?
No, I cannot afford that (laughs). It is quite expensive to be popular, so maybe when I become a millionaire, I will be easily recognisable.
On your social media page, you described yourself as ‘seeing things differently’. What exactly do you mean?
I am a bit of an ‘over-analyser’. I always find a twist to things. For example, there are many people shooting skits, so I decided to be using a dog, so as to stand out. Even when colleagues bring their scripts to me to work on, I always have an alternative end or beginning for them.
There have been cases of dogs used for sexual romps with humans. What is your take on that?
That is honestly the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. Bestiality should not have a place in our society. It paints us, real dog lovers, in a bad light. There are usually comments on my posts, with people asking if it isn’t one of those ‘Lekki dogs’. It hurts me to read things like that.
What advice do you have for young talents who want to become skit makers?
Do this because you really love it. Don’t do it because you see people doing it and think it is a shortcut to easy money. This is one of the most taxing things one can choose as a career. And, you always have to put your best foot forward.
What distinguishes you from other online comedians?
My contents are different and groundbreaking. I don’t use special effects for skits involving my dogs. Even many Hollywood movies use social effects for animal scenes. All what people see in my skits are products of creative thinking; nothing more.
How will you describe your childhood?
I did a lot of playing and learning. I was quite a stubborn kid. Indeed, I had a really fun-filled childhood.
Were your parents supportive when you chose to become a comedian, and how do they react when they watch your skits?
I have been an orphan since I was 14 years old. I do wish my parents were alive. I know they would absolutely love what I am doing.
In the course of shooting skits with your dog, has it ever bitten anyone you were working with?
No, it hasn’t. My dog is one of the sweetest dogs one can find. She is not aggressive. She has a unique way of sensing fear. When she notices that a person is scared of dogs, she would not go close to the person.
Has anybody ever declined working with you because of your dog?
No. Initially, there were some people that were really scared of dogs. But, when they meet mine, it actually helps them to deal with their phobia. A couple people have actually gone ahead to buy dogs after meeting mine.
What sort of training did you give your dog to enable you to shoot skits with it?
It is really hard work and persistence. I have to clearly tell it what I want it to do. I also need to always have a treat close by, so as to make shooting fun for it.