Governor Andrew Cuomo’s extended shelter-in-place has opened the door for a plethora of online acts to showcase their talent to give restless New Yorkers a glimmer of hope that there is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. One such act is comedian Freshhh Fitness. His daily Instagram Live has become essential escapist entertainment.
Known mainly from his brand of self-deprecating humour deep-rooted in Caribbean culture, Freshhh has become a household sensation for international audiences. With over 100,000 followers on Instagram, Freshhh has devoted his time in isolation to creating content to pass time during self isolation.
“Instagram is [the] new television,” said the comic, “You have to give the people what they want to see. Most times, they want to see a lot of it. Every other day you have to give content.”
This virtual entertainer believes the demands of producing online content for comedy is more demanding than a live act.
“Being online isn’t easier, it just means I have to create more videos to keep people entertained,” he said. “Stand-up comedians have time to rehearse and down time to think of more jokes. On Instagram, I have to basically create new videos every day.”
His creative process
The cognitive repercussions of boredom are not trivial, according to Psychology Today. Twenty-five-year old Dalia Sabazan has attributed watching a plethora of funny videos to help cope with the lack of vitamin D during the state’s lockdown.
“Without Freshhh’s impersonations, life would be boring,” said Sabazan. “I turn on Instagram and I can always count on him to make serious but relevant stories into a joke. God knows I need a good laugh.”
Freshhh describes his writing style as spontaneous. He believes the best jokes are created orally. The social media sensation said he writes a caption only after creating the video.
“I am a storyteller first,” proclaimed Freshhh. “Instagram is just my personal blog. When I see something funny, especially something I know is common in West Indian households, I run with that idea. Then, I make the commentary to add an extra touch to it. This is usually where the comedy really comes in. I don’t release a video until I’m confident people’s bellies would burst from laughter.”
Cross-Caribbean fan base
While his following continues to grow exponentially, Freshhh believes a Caribbean format, simulated patois, limits his audience. Although he can impersonate almost any accent, his first viral video was done in a Trinidadian accent.
“American accents are slower and understood by Caribbean people and everyone [globally]. I didn’t set up to be what I am known for today. I didn’t have an end game. I’ve had friends who’ve never seen this side of me. I believe that there’s a time and place for everything. I may use some [colloquial slurs] in my jokes, but it doesn’t define me,” he said.
Trinidadian resident Dalia Pascall believes the Caribbean accent will lure a wider audience.
“More people will be fascinated over a Caribbean accent because it’s seen as unfamiliar,” said Pascall. “Everyone does try to talk like a Jamaican and get views for that. The American accent is too standard. Trini’s are naturally funny, and the accent only adds to the joke. There should be more comedians like Freshhh to spread the culture and dialect.”
Apart from making people laugh, Freshhh also wants to show his supporters the consequences of complacency. In only a year, he has launched a carnival section for the Labour Day parade, sold-out boat ride parties, and spearheaded forums on theoretical topics.
“Sticking to Instagram alone would be dumb of me,” he said. “My next goal is to publish a book. I am not as sociable as people think because I’ve grown to realize some people are not genuine. Who I am now, is from being myself. Yes, my videos are light-hearted, but I enjoy educational topics. I don’t only want to inspire people to have a dream. I want to motivate them actually to do better,” said Freshhh.