Young Elder Gcfr: Bridging Comedy And Morals
Words By – Josephine Agbonkhese
Popularly known as Young Elder GCFR, Efosa Orobosa Japheth is a talented comedian, actor, social media influencer, and a successful skit maker with a huge following on social media. His versatile acting prowess, as well as his distinct ability to mimic the voice and character of an elderly man in a stern but humorous manner, matched with his signature greeting style “Doh my dear”, “koyor”, in Edo language, have endeared him to many since 2015 when he surfaced on the entertainment scene.
A graduate of Electronic Electrical Engineering from the University of Benin, Young Elder is CEO, Young Elder Endeavors Company Ltd, an outfit which doubles as a production studio.
He has performed in several African and European countries including UK, Italy, France and Austria, to mention but few.
In this encounter with Allure, the content creator who is happily married with a beautiful daughter speaks on his work, style, childhood and more.
What’s the inspiration behind the Young Elder brand?
My late father inspired the brand. Also, I grew up around elderly people as I am from a large family. So, I started to mimic them when I was younger and it became funny. I kept at it and decided to turn it to a comedy career.
How are you able to mimic the voice of the elderly so much that your youthfulness is totally concealed?
Like earlier stated, I picked this up from watching elderly people around me especially my father. He talks exactly like my Young Elder character.
One could mistake you for a graduate of Theatre Arts even though you studied Electronic Electrical Engineering. What role has education played in building this brand?
Education has played a huge role; in fact, it gave me the necessary exposure to build my craft as a comedian.
Let us go down memory-lane; how did your entertainment journey into comedy and content creation begin?
Since my teenage years, I’ve always participated in talent shows and events in church and secondary school. Then fast forward to my days in the university, I started to work as a Master of Ceremony, MC, and stand-up comedian. It was more like a side hustle to support myself in school. Eventually, I joined the Living Faith Church after graduating and performed in several youth programs in stage plays. So, I basically kicked-off from there.
At what point in your life did you decide it was this career and nothing else?
It was when I realised my 8-5 bank job wasn’t going to sustain me and I didn’t find fulfilment. I decided then to focus on my talent and make it a career.
What was it like building a brand from scratch?
It wasn’t the easiest but I was determined to give it my all; and I did. With consistency and hard work, surely and slowly, growth came.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Based on my kind of content that teaches morals, I noticed it wasn’t a favourite on social media as more people prefer to view contents displaying nudity and the likes. Knowing that my contents risked being rarely distributed due to the moral theme, I had to work twice as hard to achieve my goal.
Have those challenges improved?
Not really. It’s quite unfortunate but I’ll keep pushing.
How has technology helped?
Technology has provided the best kind of recording devices that aids my career. With the invention of new smart devices also, so many social media platforms have come up that enables my content to be viewed by millions of people worldwide.
What were those things you had to do daily in the course of building your brand?
In the first few years of my career, I always had to record videos every working day. So, I was diligent, intentional and consistent with my work. Then when I wasn’t recording contents, I was working on getting good story write-ups to record.
What gave you your first big break?
My big break came while I was working with Home of Laughter. We had been recording a particular series called “Judgment Series“. One episode in particular went viral when Tunde Ednut and other bloggers posted it. The rest is history.
What’s usually their impression like when people meet you in person for the first time?
People get shocked that I am young; because I play an old man’s character, I guess they assumed I was an elderly man. When they see me therefore, they express shock and wonder.
Have you ever had to prove that you’re that supposed elderly man?
Yes, I have. Several times, I’ll have to greet in the old man’s voice “koyor, doh my dear” before they believe it’s me.
How does it feel each time you’re made-up and dressed to assume the Young Elder personality?
I feel humbled that I was gifted to bring the personality Young Elder to life. This is because I see the character as a symbol of morals, virtue and values.
What issues or aspects of society do you usually like to address in your skits; political or social?
Both; I don’t have a preference.
Would you say the messages have been quite impactful?
I strongly believe they have.
Your most memorable moment in your career so far?
The UK tour I embarked on with my colleagues, Edo Pikin and MC Cassino in 2021. It felt so surreal.
What would you describe as your lowest moment so far?
That was when I just started out looking for platforms and there was no support. Those were hard times.
Can you describe those times?
It wasn’t an easy one. You know, as an upcoming, you would need to be diligent, unique and would need someone to push you up; give you a platform. For standup comedy, I was practically going from shows to shows, looking for that big break. It was really tough.
In terms of content creating, I had to start looking for big platforms where I could showcase my talent.
I joined my local church’s drama team and from then, God gave the opportunity to showcase my talent in the church’s Youth Alive Fellowship Programme which was a huge gathering of young people from different branches. I was always a standout performer as I used the Young Elder character to play a role which everyone seemed to enjoy. It was funny and effective in passing on moral messages to the audience.
I joined Home of Lafta as part of team member and while working with them, I also worked for another big brand, The Winlos. From Monday till about Friday, I worked with Home of Lafta and from Friday to Sunday, I worked with The Winlos.
For young skit makers, how would you advise them?
Things are easier now because you don’t have to start looking for people and all that. Just create your niche, be exceptional and standout; and trust me, people will come looking for you. Big brands will even be the ones writing you without you writing them because you have something that can help them improve their platform. Just strive to be unique and good. Thank God now for innovation and technology. In our days, you have to own a video recorder, camera, laptop and all to edit videos but nowadays, with just a smartphone in your hand, you can record and edit a quality video, and grow your own platform where people can easily pick you out from. So, growing is easier now.
What do you do when you are not working?
I spend time with my family.
Describe a typical day in the life of Young Elder…
A typical day would be me writing my stories to work on in the early hours of the morning, from 5 or 6am. Have a nice breakfast with my family and head off to my studio to start recording contents for the day. Sometimes, I record as much as four different contents per day.
Let us talk about your childhood; what kind of a child were you?
(Laughs) I was a very curious and an extremely adventurous child.
What was growing up like and where did you grow up in?
Growing up was so much fun. I had a lot of siblings and it was a busy household. I grew up in Benin City, Edo State.
What role did your upbringing play in shaping the Young Elder personality we now know?
Growing up with a lot of older siblings and in a household with a strict father where discipline was non-negotiable, really helped shaped my character as Elder.
Describe your personal style?
(Laughs) This one is very tricky. My wife picks my outfits and does all the combinations. So, I’m not sure I have a style.
Who and what inspires you daily?
My late father, the Winlos and Tyler Perry.
Also, knowing I have a role to play in making Nigeria great inspires me to keep making my kind of contents.
As Ali Baba is to stand up comedians, do you have an Ali for skit makers?
I wouldn’t say we have an Ali Baba for skit makers. I, however, like to mention a few names we always saw while I was coming up in skit making. We had The Winlos and the Mark Angels. The Winlos were a people I never got tired of watching in terms of content creating in the social media space when technology started advancing in Nigeria. Growing up though, the Jaguars, Zebrudaya of the Masquerades, and all, were an inspiration.
What’s your most-priced fashion accessory?
I don’t have any.
Comedy has taken you to several countries around the world; what’s that country you yet aspire to visit?
The United States of America.
What’s your preferred holiday destination?
Maldives or Seychelles.
…and your dream for the Young Elder brand?
My dream is to build an art academy where young people can come train and get skills in different areas of art.