By Damilola Fatunmise

Striving in the men’s world can be challenging, but the consistency of Anita Asuoha aka Real Warri Pikin has kept her growing as one of the most sought-after standup comedians in Nigeria.

In this interview, the Political Science/Public Administration graduate spoke about surviving in the men’s industry and why she would love to work with American star, Tyler Perry.

At what point did you decide on a career in the entertainment industry and what inspired you then?

I don’t think there was a particular point when I consciously made that decision. The industry chose me early because I was born into a home of entertainment, and I have always been inspired by all the creativity around me. I’ll say the attention started coming when in 2008 I contested in the Glo Rock ‘N’ Rule dance competition and took the first position. I was then named a Globacom ambassador in 2009. In 2011, I also auditioned in the Maltina Dance All competition and finished as second overall best with my family. From then, I moved on to hosting a radio show, compering events, standup comedy and acting.

How has your background, upbringing and education impacted your artistic career?

Living in Warri and schooling in a university that supports talents have played a big role in my career. I was surrounded by creativity and talent, and being a young person, I soaked it all in.

Stand-up comedy in Nigeria seems dominated by men. Do you feel challenged by this and how have you managed to hold your place?

I sincerely do not feel challenged because I’m good at what I do. I hold my place by being better than my previous self, reinventing, researching and working twice as hard. I also believe that at this moment in time, that there are more opportunities for women, there isn’t that competition and I fully believe that the more we help each other, the more opportunities we’ll get.

Is it more difficult for women to be successful as stand-up comedians?

No. It’s really not difficult. I think the same rules apply to women as to men who want to make it in stand-up comedy. You must work really hard, get really good and make a lot of friends. In fact, that advice might apply to most industries. Gender does not affect your drive, perseverance or work ethic, nor does it determine natural ability or comic timing or luck, which are all components of ‘making it’. But the biggest challenge to any comedian is acknowledging what you are willing to sacrifice, and I think because of societal expectations from gender roles, some of those sacrifices can be more difficult for women to make.

Even though, stand-up comedy can be a tough business, it has traditionally not been a career many women have chosen to pursue. Right now, the world of stand-up comedy is seeing more and more women on stage, and they are successful. So, as long as you know what you’re doing and know your value, you’ll make it in stand-up comedy.

What is your style of humour and what influences that style?

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My style of humour is self-enhancing. It’s characterized by positivity, even while acknowledging the challenges of everyday living. I speak to everyday issues that people experience; hence my comedy has been described as relatable. I am authentic in my humour and storytelling and also in my communication, drawing from my own experiences and from the environment around me.

Who is Real Warri Pikin and how would you describe yourself? 

I am Anita Asuoha better known as Real Warri Pikin. I’m from Burutu, Delta State and brought up in Warri, Delta State. My dad is Ijaw from Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State and my mother is Urhobo. I am the third of six children. I studied Political Science/Public Administration at Benson Idahosa University, Benin City and graduated in 2012. I’m a comedian, brand influencer, content creator, speaker and actress. I’ll describe myself as authentic, enthusiastic, indefatigable and confident. I am very passionate about what I do and I am consistently driven by a desire for excellence.   

How would you describe the standup comedy industry to a greenhorn and what words of advice would you give?

Stand-up comedy is not an easy job. Perseverance, even in the face of nearly constant rejection, is required for most people in arts and entertainment. And stand-up comedy is definitely no exception. As artistes, we have to work extra hard to fight the social pressure to give up on ourselves. Part of what we do as a group is encouraging one another, push ourselves to reach for bigger goals, and offer one another tons of support. Working so closely with other female comedians in a totally non-competitive way makes the whole journey a lot easier.

You had a minor role in Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys, does this mean you’re looking into serious acting? 

Absolutely! I have actually featured in several movies like The Ghost and the Tout Too, Prophetess, The Fate of Alakada, Merry Men 2, The Stand Up, Intricate, and Lemonade to mention a few. I am a multi-talented person and I believe in expressing all areas of my creativity. 

Who are your biggest influences?

I am influenced by highly creative and cerebral talents in the industry and internationally. Among them are Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), Kemi Adetiba, Funke Akindele, Bovi, AY, Mercy Johnson, Kelvin Hart, and Tyler Perry amongst others.

Aside arts and entertainment, what are your other interests?

I am passionate about the SDGs 4 and 5, quality education and gender equality. My goal is to ensure women and children thrive and that’s why I started the Real Warri Pikin Foundation. The Real Warri Pikin Foundation is a non-governmental organization that encourages women, at every International Women’s Day, to invest in their future through the 100k Challenge, a grants opportunity for women. The foundation also provides access to grants and educational materials for children, because we believe that future leaders will be created through today’s investment in education for all. The foundation equally runs a monthly mental health programme to create a safe space for people’s mental health, and to fight against mental health related discrimination and stigmatization. Apart from that, I am an avid businesswoman with interest in real estate. Also, I am a fitness and sports enthusiast, and I love football.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

I’ll definitely choose Tyler Perry because I’m a huge fan of his work and what he stands for. Tyler Perry is a filmmaker that takes his career very seriously, and he’s responsible for some very thoughtful dramatic productions. He also has an appreciated sense of humour and a work ethic I aspire to.