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Parkhage’s Stand-Up Comedy Special: Real Life Gists

A stylised bronze head of stand up comedian, Parkhage for his show, God of Sango-Ota

The projector at Jewel Aeida, Lekki threw a brown effigy onto the screen: it is Parkhage, but sculpted as a 14th-century Ife bronze head. Rather than a call for reverence, this sculpture wears a broad smile, absent of the pomp you would expect from such art. Its open mouth melded together, with no serration where the teeth are supposed to be. Very weird because bronze arts are not known to show emotion. It is different; it evokes… it is “The God from Sango Ota.” Parkhage’s stand-up comedy special.


As its name implies, Sango-Ota is a place between Sango and Ota in Ogun State; however, it is referred to as an outskirt to Lagos, as many people live there but resume office within Lagos on weekdays. They do this to avoid the exorbitant rent prices Lagos has been known to impose. Parkhage describes Sango Ota as a place with two million population and four million potholes. In the context of this show, Sango Ota exists as a microcosm of the Nigerian “trenches”: people that live in low-brow areas or generally low-income earners. Where street thugs are hypemen, and boxers are either former butchers or former motorcyclists. It is a juvenile and simplified description, but for comedy purposes, it effectively sets the stage for an experience within and without the rising poverty levels within the country.


Steering away from the Opa Williams trend that holds comedy shows in event halls, show producers at LAG Medium choose to sprinkle some pizzazz into their presentations. Having organized variety and themed shows: Caveat Venditor, Mufti, and Phage’s Nigerian Dream in the past, they continue this trend of holding comic events in cold, comfy environments that imposes a corporate, important air around their shows– yet still, create an ambiance of heartiness and joy. Show host SLK, who I have heard about within the comedy circuit, but just seeing for the first time, eases into his role effortlessly. He is not very active onstage; he prefers to hold the microphone with one hand and lean on the mic stand with his other while he ribs the crowd with good-natured jokes and smart wordplays that land most times. SLK brings uncommon candor to his set, and his presence onstage throughout the night promised a great time.


Short, amusing Makinde David was the first act; his presence is boldened by his baseball jacket and glittering chain. I have seen him numerous times, and his craft has grown into a boisterous regale of written jokes, crowd work, and body language. However, he does lose the crowd for a moment or two; I think he does it on purpose. At this point, it’s all a game to him. He describes Parkhage’s style aptly at the end of his set, calling him globally acceptable and globally relatable. 


Makinde is followed by Oscar Franklin and Ovy Godwin, Parkhage’s friends from way back. They bring more perspective to Sango-Ota and draw parallels between Lagos’s outskirts and highbrow areas. Ovy talked about Aboleja, a Sango-Ota street that had a mosque, church, and Ifa shrine in the same place. His voice booms across the room, and one would wonder if he’s too skinny for his vocal chord. He carries the charisma of a motivational speaker touring secondary schools. Ovy commands attention, and you can see his tiny hip swing sideways as he imitates various people he jokes about. 


On the other hand, Oscar has a delivery that hangs out in extremes; he is either soft-spoken or yelling at you– there’s no in-between. Oscar is dramatic; he romanticizes Sango Ota like a long-lost lover and endears with a childlike tenor to his voice. Oscar is playful, too; sometimes, when he goes for his punchlines, he leans back and holds up his hand so the crowd can allow it to sink in. They describe the Nigerian oddities with childlike enthusiasm. Their jokes are simple and low-hanging, with unexpected turnouts, which makes them funnier.


By the time Parkhage was ready to come onstage, the crowd had been primed for an hour-long special and understood what Sango-Ota represented in the show’s context. Emechidera provided a quirky voiceover that created mystery around the main eventer, and a tribal chant about Parkhage followed. He came wearing a knee-length leather jacket that looked straight out of The Matrix; excitement was high– this buildup is hardly seen in comedy shows! Parkhage, dark, ashy with an overbite that peeks out his upper lip with every mouthful delivers. He smiles so wide it reaches his eyes. Parkhage is energetic; he is energized. He shouts when he impersonates area boys in his area. The man is free; he has wit. He has seen the best of both worlds and interchanges between his two personas to elude expectations.


His set is fully entrenched in the realities of Sango-Ota; he uses the stage excellently and paces across throughout. A particular highlight for me was when he used comedy to show different mentalities in societal classes. “And these boys do drugs… paracetamol and chloroquine” or when he talked about a small party they threw and the women were fresh graduates– “Fresh graduate… wey just finish freedom.” or when they started popping expensive drinks… “Trophy beer.” All these seemingly small affordable things that we take for granted are indeed a luxury for a stratum of society.


Parkhage’s stand-up comedy is almost autobiographical. He starts nearly every joke by saying, “Real life gist,” and I have it on good sources that these events happened. For example, he talked about running a comedy club with Ovy for years and traveling to Ovy’s hometown in Edo, where the population is 1.5 million, but they had 3 million motorcyclists. Parkhage had told a variation of this joke earlier, and reusing it in 40 minutes to more brutal laughter showed great technique. His bit about a disabled Sango-Ota legend Kango stands out as well, but I wouldn’t spoil it here. 


You can make out his foray into sharpening his craft through his stories. There was a time he and Ovy wrote jokes strictly using newspaper headlines as prompts. He gives examples: citing four female students powering generators with urine and painting an event where the practice becomes mainstream. The comedian also uses logic to drive home his point, describing how alcohol reduces liver control and makes urination a higher probability— clubs would then become the new filling stations. It is absurd. Parkhage isn’t afraid to step out of the scenario he makes up to service his jokes. This is comedy and it doesn’t have to be grounded.


While I can’t confirm why the show was titled “The God from Sango Ota,” I could feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that this set of comedians, Parkhage especially, embodied the zeitgeist of the event. And to confirm my earlier suspicions that Sango-Ota is a microcosm of “The Trenches,” Parkhage brought up a rapper, Punchline from Agege, to do a song about young internet fraudsters (Yahoo boys). There and then, we realize that— except for some idiosyncrasies, realities of Sango-Ota denizens are alike across every low-income neighborhood in Nigeria. And not only does Parkhage’s Stand-up Comedy embody Sango-Ota, but his artistry also represents close contact with the Nigerian masses. You should see him if you have a chance!



Oyedele Alokan writes and edits for theblotted. Engage on Instagram @omoalokan.