The President of Comedy Africa Eric Omondi lost a significant chunk of his earnings from social media after sponsors pulled out over his controversial Wife Material show. Speaking to Radio Maisha’s Mwende Macharia and Clemo on Konnect, Omondi revealed that several companies, among them a betting company, pulled away from him citing a wealth of ethical issues.
Omondi - who during the Thursday interview revealed he currently boasts eight lucrative endorsement deals – said Wife Material clawed back some of the commercial gains he made in 2020 courtesy of the surge in online content consumption following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Coronavirus was a blessing in disguise for some. When the pandemic struck, most people were put in lockdown. There were no entertainment sources i.e. concerts other than on online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. Most clients realised the shift by their audience and sought who had the numbers. Luckily, I am the most followed personality in Kenya. I feel very blessed and thank my fans. It is because of them that I get endorsements. Sponsors see these followers - who are fans; actual people, who love and follow me,” said Omondi.
“The controversies do not affect your endorsements?” Posed Mwende. “There are, two-to-three, clients who called me at the time [Wife Material] and told me I was on the precipice - what I was doing was enough. I lost a lot. They said, ‘Our product is family-oriented. We do not know what you are doing with your brand- kissing girls’,” responded the 38-year-old.
Opening up about the show, the comedian confirmed that Carol of Band Beca confessed that she loves him. “22 days is a lot for humans. Things happen, of course. A lot happened there… Shakilla is very close. She is very confident and truly reached via DM. She told me “I want to be part of this [Wife Material]”. She also is very straightforward; when we first met, she told me “nionyeshe!” …We all [contestants] agreed that what happened there was like in Las Vegas; it stayed there.”
Responding to criticism that he was exploiting the nine contestants, Omondi argued that no one was willing to consider the flip side of the accusations. “I don’t understand. Why is this so unfair? Wanaume tunaumia! Why is it not the other way round? Everybody is saying I was using them; like there are only nine women in Kenya and I took off with them… It reached a point I had to read between the lines; for women, there were hints of jealousy - the ‘boy child’ was with me…”
Sharing why his popularity has soared over the years in Tanzania, Omondi revealed that his friendship with Bongo Flava bigwig Diamond Platnumz started in 2014.
“We met at Flamingo Beach Mombasa. He had a show and I was the MC. We exchanged contacts after a brief chat, and he left. I enjoyed doing parodies of his songs and when I did Nabeba Mawe, he called me and told me his wife [Zari] loved it and invited me to his All White Party. That was my first big show in Tanzania. When I arrived at the party and saw the hall full, I requested Diamond to get me an hour to prepare – nilikuwa nimeenda tu kusalimia watu; for appearance! From there, our friendship blossomed - whenever he has a show, he calls me…”
The comic - who disclosed he is in talks to replace British supermodel Naomi Campbell as Magical Kenya International Tourism Ambassador - added: “It is not that I don’t support Kenyan songs, I parody Tanzania's deliberately. Tanzanians are not like Kenyans - they love their own. If you check, it’s me, Omondi, who has been to Tanzania a lot and it’s because when I produce content on Magufuli, Diamond, Ali Kiba etc., they pay attention. Wanachemka! It is a strategy to get their attention, and it has worked 150 per cent. I will continue to do this to get a proper footing because they see me as their own.”