BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
Web series are becoming increasingly popular. The YouTube platform is a solace for the producer/director who cannot get their content to a terrestrial or satellite television platform. Or for the outfit that needs to create on television channel but cannot do that on satellite TV. It is how a lot of people got to know a lot of entertainers and content creators. The Frank Donga example is a strong one. Bisola Aiyeola’s popularity before she went into the BBNaija house was from her role in a show that made its run on YouTube.
So it is of no surprise that a weekend hardly passes without a new YouTube series in Nollywood. One of such newbies is Chairman, a series that should, in all honesty, be cancelled immediately. And I’ll tell you why in this piece.
First off, Chairman is supposed to be a comedy that tells the story of a wealthy and uneducated politician, Gbadebo, who is also the chairman of the union. Muyiwa Adégòkè who followers of Yorùbá Nollywood will know as “Londoner” plays the title character. Chairman buys a newspaper company in order to facilitate his political interest, but instead, he ends up with a dying business that causes trouble on a daily basis. Imoh Umoren who is prepping to release his feature film – The Coffin Salesman – directs Chairman. It was created by Bola Oba.
Except the comedy it claims to possess is being withheld by the makers so it could come later, it has got to be a hideous joke for the creator to refer to it as a comedy. It has been a while I have had to listen to lines as unfunny as the ones in the first episode of this work. I do not know where the writer learnt about comedy but one of the most important elements comedy should have is rapid pace. One of the reasons why comedy-wannabe 10 Days in Sun City was hard to watch was because of its pace.
Now, Adegoke’s casting was supposed to be a masterstroke that would fulfil the need of the character – an uneducated politician who struggles to communicate properly in English. Like Jenifa in Funke Akindele’s painfully drawn-out franchise, Chairman’s “shellings” are supposed to draw out laughter. However, that doesn’t happen. Unlike Funke Akindele who had become a master at Jenifa’s communication mode and thereby doesn’t need extra time to think about what to say, Adegoke has to remember his lines (apparently written in English), mentally translate what he wants to say to Yorùbá, and then try to find “funny” ways of saying most of it in “uneducated English” while being melodramatic. And all these are done with a rolling camera pointed at him. Too much to ask, obviously, of Adegoke’s average acting skills.
Apart from Adegoke to a very limited extent, there are no funny actors or characters in this web series. The other players are bang average at best and disturbingly boring at worst. The watery lines do not help either. So, by the time Faithia Balogun Williams appears in the final minute of the first episode with her experience in tow, the viewer’s attention would have arrived at another state. By the way, what the actual we-do-not-know-what-to-write-but-this-episode-must-be-more-than-twenty-minutes-so-here-goes was that dream scene?
It is possible that Umoren does not have a part in the creation and writing of Chairman but even in the direction, there is plenty to shake the head about. The blocking, camera positioning and general cinematography could have been much better here. In fact, a few many things could have been better.