With standup not really an option during the lockdown, Mo Gilligan has been focusing much of his time and effort in his flourishing podcast series. For its most recent edition, Mo sat down with BAFTA-winning Hood Documentary and Enterprice architect Kayode Ewumi to discuss his hugely successful show, its origins in Vine and what has been like since he decided to put an end to the character. Quitting a character like R.S, who resonated with so much of us so quickly, can’t have been easy. Especially, given the eye-watering amounts of money he was offered to keep it going.
The character, which first emerged on Vine in 2015, became an instant hit on the social platform, but found even more viral success when Ewumi and collaborators Tyrell Williams and Ray Maunz expanded the format into what became the hilarious Hood Documentary. One of the key reasons for its success, Mo says, is that “[Roll Safe] became our thing.” However, after a second episode and a handful of pieces for BBC Three, Ewumi decided to ditch the character and move on to different projects.
“Obviously, it’s hard when it’s not just me,” he says. “Tyrell and Ray, we’re on this journey together, but it’s all about you first. You have to think about yourself first before anything... Some may say it’s different but I think it’s important that when you’re creating and when you’re making things, you have to challenge yourself.” He goes on to explain that “with Hood Doc, the production company came, I got more contracts, Enterprice was birthed from that, so I said, ‘Let me just get what I need from this and just keep it moving.’” Ultimately, it was about leaving fans wanting more to maintain the character’s value in their consciousness.
“A lot of the time when you make sacrifices, you become much more attractive,” he adds. Not long after hanging up the iconic leather jacket for the last time, he started to get more and more offers, particularly from brands, to revive the character for ad campaigns. “At that time, I wasn’t rich,” he says, adding: “I’m still not rich, but I didn’t have a lot of money and it was like 25 bags, 30 grand, just to do an advert as your character. I was like, ‘I could do this and get the money, but how would I feel putting on that jacket?’”
After comparing himself to Joaquin Pheonix’s sad clown interpretation of the Joker, performing for other people’s amusement but feeling miserable behind closed doors, he says, “I remember when I looked at the jacket for the last time—it’s my dad’s jacket—and I said to myself, ‘We’re finished.’ It just came to that point where it wouldn’t feel right.”
You can watch the full conversation at the top.