When someone decides to take up the reins and create content in terms of comic presentations of some of the most famous personalities in the world, it is only a matter of when those personalities notice you, not if.
The age of social media has seen content creation shoot up to heights never seen before in a long time, backed up by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced billions worldwide to seek online solace to entertain themselves and earn a living.
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However, finding one’s niche is the key to a successful career in the online space. One 26-year-old comedian Meshack Kiprop Biwott has been amassing a popular following on social media under the moniker Arap Uria, thanks to his mimicry of some of world football’s most iconic commentaries.
Kiprop, on a mission to chase his dreams, took up a phone and began recording a number of videos that he would later post online. Little did he know that three years down the line, his videos would attract millions of views and YouTube would become his main source of income.
He was born in a village known as Kamauwa in Moiben Constituency, Uasin Gishu County. He attended primary school in Mutei before attending two other high schools and finally completing his high school education at Tambach.
Kiprop then proceeded to Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in education. He took up Mathematics and Geography and graduated in 2019.
Breaking down his signature name, Uria is his family name and his character draws inspiration from his grandfather. He started shooting comedy clips for starters where he’d act as a drunkard.
The clips were majorly done in his mother tongue, a matter which unfortunately made his father unhappy as he is a staunch Christian who believed that character was all wrong. His mother on the contrary encouraged him to pursue what he loved most.
Only after Kiprop started receiving plaudits that his father started coming in to support him.
When he started on his content creation journey, his litmus test was growing his online audience as he had very few subscribers and views compared to how online stars such as Azziad Nasenya rose to prominence almost at once. He used to get hold of someone’s phone and direct them to his channel to get them to subscribe.
He would also secretly obtain his father’s phone and send links across the various groups he was in before deleting the messages to avoid his father noticing what he was trying to build on. His relentless rise was so powerful that not even his critics who predicted that he would fail, would stop him.
Kiprop then struck an idea to mimic the country’s famous personalities such as Deputy President William Ruto and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga. His near-perfect imitation coupled with facial expressions, attire and attention to detail as well as the costume brought an extra touch to his craft, as a result, his viewership skyrocketed.
He would study and memorise speeches by the current two 2022 presidential candidates before recording the videos and sharing them online. It worked wonders.
Kiprop then tried what was unexplored at the time, football commentaries. Kenya is a football-loving nation with conversations surrounding local and international football being heard everywhere you go, but no one knew about the commentators who bring football matches to life, therefore, he tried his hand at football commentary.
He started off with veteran English football commentator Martin Tyler, who has also been dominant in FIFA video games. He then moved to commentaries by Peter Drury, arguably the hottest talent in the world right now.
It was the Drury commentary that turned him into an international celebrity. As of Saturday, April 2, he has over 323,000 subscribers and over 32 million views on YouTube, commanding a huge following across the country and Africa.
One of his euphoric moments was when his video was recognised by co-commentator Jim Beglin, who expressed his love for the tin mugs he uses as headphones.
Apart from mimicking football commentaries, he also does some videos on Facebook with his friend who goes by the stage name Gogo Smallz. He plays the role of his wife in the videos.
Another euphoric moment for him was when he was featured on Friday, April 1 on the English Premier League television show, during which a video message was sent to him by Drury, who was in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup draw.
“Arap, it’s Peter here, I really wish I could be with you today. It’s so frustrating that I am here in Doha to witness the World Cup draw which I’m sure you are aware of. Listen, I love what you do, I hope you’re laughing with me and not at me, I must say I am certainly laughing with you…it’s terrifically funny.
“It’s superb, football shouldn’t be taken too seriously, just seriously enough and we’re all passionate about it, I do love your work and I hope one day we might even get to meet each other face to face and you can teach me how to commentate,” Drury addressed to Kiprop.