Not everyone can create content — Dr Frick

Fred Otite, also known as Doctor Frick, is the marshal of humor and common sense. He is a comedian, self-proclaimed event surgeon, actor, content creator, and relationship strategist. In this ROTIMI IGE interview, he talks about the comedy industry and what creative people need to do to survive copyright infringement in Nigeria.

A few days ago, the world celebrated Intellectual Property (IP) Day. As you have always talked about increasing awareness of intellectual property, what is your position today?
I like this. You said the world celebrated. Did we celebrate? Let the Nigerian in me answer your question with another first. What is the level of IP awareness in Nigeria? As low as almost zero. Not to sound too critical or pessimistic, I know that efforts have been made to highlight intellectual property with particular emphasis on literary and artistic works. Simply put, entertainment we’re known for. Unfortunately for a system that does nothing against the violation of fundamental rights, it would be an exaggeration to speak of intellectual property. The only IP address that we know of in Nigeria is Internet Protocol not IP. Are there laws? Yes. Are there specialized institutions to ensure the effectiveness of these laws?
Yes, but like most laws in our country, they are simply mummified in the constitution. The Nigerian film industry has long struggled with piracy without tangible success. Thanks to social networks and frameworks like Netflix and Co which have reduced this scourge. It’s for music and movies. In our own space as comic and content creators, plagiarism has become a threat. And since copyright laws have no hold on the culprits in our terra firma, it continues to thrive, with the industry bearing the consequences. That said, my position is that there should be public awareness of intellectual property laws with an emphasis on the penalties for breaching those laws, the process of securing your intellectual property as part of the law should be simple and affordable and there should be cases of culprits dealt with accordingly. This way, creative minds will be encouraged to work hard, be original, and then the respect and resources will go where it belongs.

What potential do you see for creatives in Nigeria?
Nigeria is pretty much the most creative nation in the world given the level of difficulty and our limited resources, so I can say with my chest full of vertebrae that we have huge potential. Unfortunately, potentials must become kinetic with the help of resources and a supportive environment. We have guys making waves all over the world. Ikorodu Bois brought world fame to Nigeria through his low budget remakes of viral music videos, several content creators set trends across Africa and the world, we now have influencers and celebrities through Instagram and tiktok in particular. These are testaments to the level of creativity, hard work and potentials we possess, but as I said, if we don’t allow these potentials and maximize them, they can be wasted.

Your thoughts on regulation, especially for sketch creators who don’t generally consider intellectual property theft a crime…
Regulation is needed in all sectors of industry and not just for sketch makers. Many of my standing people are embittered because some skit maker simply converts their materials into scripts and while your standing performance of said material sits at 70 views, the skit maker, having brought the material to life, hits thousands or even millions of views and you have no way to claim the material. If only the skit makers asked for permission, things might be less tense between the two sectors, but the skit maker might have a case saying they don’t know the original owner of the material who heard the joke of different comedians. This is why some comics go so far as to attack those they surprise by making them laugh or by cashing in their material.

Do you think everyone is a content creator?
This is not a case where I can do everything through Christ… No! Not everyone can create content. Yes, content creation is the new oil but not everyone is equipped with the resources to explore that oil. Some will definitely die at the platform. Some will sink. Content creation doesn’t hold your phone and doesn’t have data to post anything you type or save. As crude oil goes through exploration, refining and marketing, so does content creation. Content creation is a process and unfortunately most young people lack the patience and perseverance associated with the process. Only those with the courage, passion and willpower can excel in exploring this new oil. Sure, it sounds like fun when you see the finished product, but ask about the process, you’ll marvel beyond Disney.

Do you think the influx of social media giants will help millions of young Nigerians access their talent expression and funding?
Absolutely. It will help a lot. The influx is good news. Many people will benefit from it. More people may be absent for a variety of reasons, including lack of proper information and corruption. There are always human factors ready to hinder creative progress in this country, however, trust Nigerians, we always thrive against all odds, so a good number of young Nigerians will rise to fame and wealth in a moment .

Have you taken advantage of these opportunities?
I’m immersing myself full-time in edutainment content full-time now. I’m making sure to gradually align myself with big, friendly and open-minded players in the social media space, so watch out for me. When I’m not on stage, I’m online. It is enough to equip me with relevant knowledge so that I do not get scammed or taken advantage of and so that I can maximize all the resources and opportunities that come my way.

Challenges you have faced?
There will always be challenges but according to my friends soro soke, we what? We move! I don’t want to start mentioning unhealthy competition, rivalry, division, ever-changing social media algorithms, among others. They all feel like excuses as long as some people overcome these challenges. So I have to learn everything it takes to overcome all obstacles and climb to the zenith of greatness.

Future plans
Many projects in front of me so the future is loaded. My stand up special for 2022 is loading, after that I start my campaign against domestic violence (from physical to emotional and more). I am also launching new content for social networks. Never seen before. I know we’ve seen it all on social media in terms of character invention, but this is new and different, so cross your fingers.

Past events organized by you?
I started acting almost two decades ago when I stopped joking about it and took it seriously. It used to be about making fun of people, which got me a lot of slaps, but over time I found a way to sharpen my sense of humor and decided to stand up. My career as a master of ceremonies began much later, precisely in 2007, when I organized my first wedding. I had already done a few low-key gigs to test my wits and mettle, but my first big event was the wedding. Since then it has been from event to event and from higher price to higher price.
I host my own comedy special “Fricking Moments” every year in the second semester (something you should look forward to). I also host an annual Valentine’s Day dinner for couples labeled Loved Up, a God-given mandate to help rekindle love and rebuild homes. It’s a spicy buffet with comedy, music, and house-building varieties. I’ve also had the privilege of sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, with some giving me the special privilege of hosting.

Tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am your favorite observational, ethical and intellectual comedian and your host of creative events, from weddings to birthdays, book launches to corporate concerts, concerts to funerals. I am the first of four children, raised by a Christian mother, holder of a B.Sc Ed Biology, married to the most amazing woman on the planet, swimmer and ping pong player.

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