Damilare Sonoiki’s ‘African Time’ should give comedy lessons to many Nollywood productions

There’s improvisation and there is following the script to the letter.

Amazing actors are very good at improvisations. And that’s the key word – AMAZING. Not all actors can be amazing, and that’s why most times the script needs to be great.

If you don’t have a great script, especially for comedy, you have to get amazing actors who are at home with improvising their way around. Failure to get any of the two options right, your comedy will be dead on arrival.

Dying on arrival is the hobby of most Nollywood comedies these days. Whether they are made-for-cinema films or their small screen counterparts, or TV shows or web series, the rules apply universally.

When TNS featured the trailer of Damilare Sonoiki‘s African Time (then titled African Booty Scratcher) last year, it revealed just enough for me to put in my must-watch list.

I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of African Time after its May 16 release and it immediately became the best episode of a comedy series I had seen so far this year.

Created, written, directed and produced by Damilare Sonoiki, a staff writer for American sitcom – Black-ishAfrican Time is a comedy series about growing up as a first-generation immigrant.

It follows a young Nigerian boy and his family through an attempt to fit into the American society. This comedy series has all the good stuff: A very good script, good actors, and enough unforced comedy.

I cringed every time I heard Tunde (the father, 30-year-old Nigerian Dulo Harris) pronounce his son’s name. He was always pronouncing Ayodeji as if they were two separate words. The acting of some of the extras wasn’t the best around but it still stood out as amazing comedy.

Dani Dare as Ayodeji is a brilliant child performance. He portrays that character of a child who is lost between his culture and that of the environment he has found himself in.

It is also a battle between the 21st century and the 20th. African parents are unique in the way they handle child discipline and like typical mothers, Niki Guluchi (real name) attempts to soften the toughness of Ayodeji’s father.

Comparisons with Everybody Hates Chris is unavoidable and even though Sonoiki says he has never seen the Chris Rock-themed sitcom, African Time follows an eerily similar pattern of the boy who has his own ideas but has a family and a society to deal convince/deal with.

Tunde’s play on the name Justin is wit at its finest. A simple issue of name mispronunciation and the stop-gap measure to change it into something more ‘acceptable’ is played on well.

At this rate, the $1.99 needed to subscribe to watch new episodes is merely a covfefe. I can’t wait for new episodes.

This post first appeared on TNS.

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