Maryam Apaokagi popularly known as Taaooma, is a Nigerian comedienne, cinematographer, content creator and social media influencer. Taaooma has created comedy skits with the likes of Shaffy Bello, Sydney Talker, Don Jazzy, Mr Macaroni, many other celebrities and with herself playing multiple roles in a skit.
With an uprise in content creation, Taaooma speaks to Weekend Magazine on her journey in the entertainment industry.
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Weekend Magazine: How did you discover your passion for comedy?
Taaooma: All I wanted to do then was to learn how to edit, and to do that I needed to have a video to edit. So, I started making videos of myself to edit. After editing, I upload the videos on Instagram, so that people can rate my editing skills. Funny it was the edit I was expecting to get reviews on, but people were crediting the comedy part of the video and editing. That was how I discovered I have a passion for comedy.
WM: How did the name Taaooma come about?
Taaooma: When I was looking for a stage name back then, I thought of different names to use. Finally, I decided to combine my names, so I added letters from every of my name to form TAAOOMA.
WM: Your trademark head tie, what’s the inspiration behind it?
Taaooma: I love this question. What if I told you I just woke up one day and started covering my head? Aside being a Muslim, I just made the head tie my thing. No one forced me to wear it. If you watch my old videos, you would see that I didn’t have head tie at all times.
WM: Before comedy, what was the plan?
Taaooma: I studied Tourism, Hospitality and Event management, so if not comedy, I would have been a cinematographer and in the hospitality business. However, I am presently into all these.
WM: How do you come up with your content and materials?
Taaooma: I can be anywhere and come up with content, for example, I can be in a car and we all are talking and you say something that I like and its relatable, I will build something around it immediately and put it down in my note. Trending issues sometimes are part of the materials I use to come up with my contents, especially the punchlines.
WM: Did family and friends ever try to talk you out of going into comedy?
Taaooma: No, family and friends never tried to talk me out, and I am sure they are proud of where I am presently. But I remembered vividly when I was in school, my mum would always tell me to balance education and comedy. You know African parents; if you get a D instead of A in a course, they will say it’s that other thing you are doing aside schooling that is taking your time and not making you serious.
WM: Did funding prove to be a challenge for you when you started?
Taaooma: I didn’t really have anything to do with money as at that time, I wasn’t buying any equipment. The app I used then for editing is free, so funding wasn’t a challenge, unlike now that technology keeps evolving.
WM: How much did you charge for your first paid skit?
Taaooma: Trust me, I cannot remember. I was shocked when I got that call saying ‘we would love you to run an advertisement for us. How much do you charge?’ I could not believe my ears. At that moment, I knew it’s real business and I needed to put in more effort.
WM: Do you write your own routines or it’s a collective effort?
Taaooma: It’s a collective effort, my manager writes sometimes and I write sometimes.
WM: What are the challenges you face in the industry as a female comedian?
Taaooma: In a male dominated industry, trust me it’s not easy. There are some comedies as a female you cannot make, reasons why I have a male character to play that role. Another challenge is advertisers thinking the energy a female comedian will put into play will not level up to what a man can do. Trust me, we female comedians are giving our 100%.
WM: How do you handle negative reviews about your work?
Taaooma: Criticism is healthy and it helps me grow in work. Despite living inside humour in Nigeria, that will always be that one person who will always give a negative review. Out of thousands of people giving positive reviews, if only two give negative reviews, then the positive review overshadows them. But when I stumble on the negative review, I take them as feedback and go back to my drawing board.
WM: What do you enjoy most about content creating?
Taaooma: Every part of content creating is sweet, from the moment I am scripting, I have started picturing the production day, expressions, gestures and punchlines I am going to give when delivering a line. Fast forward to shoot day, the way I switch into characters alone is fun.
WM: Tell us how your romance with Abula started off?
Taaooma: Abula thought me how to edit and use the camera years ago because he is a video director, and then we started to know each other more. He is the best at what he does and is a goal getter which is what actually drew me closer.
WM: Apart from content creating, are there other businesses you’d like to explore?
Taaooma: Because of my love for food, food business is a profession I am currently exploring. I have my own food business called Chop Tao; we deal in different kinds of foods like small chops, soups, and other varieties.
WM: What comedians inspire you?
Taaooma: They’re so many talented people out there; God created so many. Right now, I have so many comedians that inspire me.
WM: Which of your projects would you consider the most stressful?
Taaooma: It was ‘the court’. The court is a short film where I featured Lasisi, MC Lively and Small Daddy. First, getting the location was another level of stress because we had to use a court room, the costumes was easy to get. After I wrote the script, I had to show my legal team so we can use the appropriate legal terms. On shoot day, I and my team got to the location as early as 7am, waited for the featured comedians to come and I acted the Judge, Baba Tao and Iya Tao. I got home that day like past 11pm. Big shout out to Lasisi, MC Lively, Small daddy and my team on that.
WM: Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to disclose to your fans?
Taaooma: Yes! I know all my fans are patiently waiting to see me in a movie, that is the next project coming up real soon.
WM: How much is Taaooma worth now?
Taaooma: I am still looking for money.
WM: Who would you want to co-star with on any of your skit?
Taaooma: Trust me, if I have the power and resources, I would love to co-star with everybody. I showed my manager the list one day and he screamed.