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Did you remember it’s the 21st of September? This writer-comic explains why you should

Demi Adejuyigbe speaks into a microphone.
Demi Adejuyigbe, shown at the Vulture Festival in 2018, says his videos keyed to the 21st of September have drawn to a close.
(Alberto E. Rodrigo / Getty Images for New York Magazine)

Demi Adejuyigbe’s videos featuring the Earth, Wind & Fire tune “September” are quick and they are clever. And as of this 21st of September, the 43rd anniversary of the song’s release, they are done.

At least that’s what the 29-year-old Emmy-nominated writer, comic and filmmaker says in his most recent Sept. 21 video, posted Tuesday. And he means it.

“Absolutely for sure” this is the last one, he told The Times in a phone interview Tuesday. “I don’t think I have any more in me.”

Since 2016, when he made the first clip as a gag for his roommate, the annual videos have increased in complexity and production value, culminating in this year’s effort, which starts with Adejuyigbe and a female companion having a drink and a chat in a packed bar. The clock then strikes midnight, prompting him to ask what day it is.

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“It’s September 21st,” his friend says. “Are you going to do that video thing that you do? That thing where we don’t hear from you for four or five months, ‘cause you’re like, ‘I have to do this, but no one’s forcing you to do it and you’re just really overworked and ...’”

All of a sudden, the 1978 disco hit — which begins with the lyric, “Do you remember / 21st night of September?” — starts playing and Adejuyigbe finds himself surrounded by people nodding along to the music. He changes into pants and a vest reminiscent of “Saturday Night Fever,” emblazoned with the date audiences know from Earth, Wind & Fire.

A dance routine takes him onto tables, up onto the bar, then into a restroom where a basketball-style tank top emblazoned with SEPT 21 hangs in a frame on the wall.

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Next thing you know, Adejuyigbe — you pronounce his name like “Ah, did you eBay?,” he said — is dancing on the walls and the ceiling, past a sparkling disco ball that begins casting reflections all around the room.

It was that scene that inspired one of the best reactions the eight-year Angeleno has experienced from any of his Sept. 21 efforts. They shot the bathroom part first, in Valencia, on a set built on a gimbal so it could rotate. Then, when they were filming the bar scene days later, all the folks on set that day got to see what they had done so far.

“I got to see every one of our extras ... they just screamed when I started walking up the wall,” Adejuyigbe said. That’s not a reaction you get easily via social media, where the videos live on Twitter and YouTube.

Back in the world of the 2021 video, our hero eventually takes down the basketball jersey picture and jumps through the wall, winding up in an “exterior” reminiscent of a midcentury SoCal yard, complete with pool and slide. And the date Sept. 21 is everywhere — as are the people from the bar, who turn out to be dancers getting their groove on in said yard. Adejuyigbe joins them, of course.

A few seconds later, it cuts to Adejuyigbe jumping into a cranberry-with-flames hot rod and leaving the scene “Grease"-style, flying away in the car as he waves, a la Olivia Newton-John, to everyone on the ground. In the credits, members of Earth, Wind & Fire give encouraging shout-outs.

City Hall has designated September 21st as Earth, Wind & Fire Day, as the legendary band performs for two nights at the Hollywood Bowl.

The new video is a far cry from the 2016 one, which saw Adejuyigbe — who was nominated for a 2021 Emmy for writing on “The Amber Ruffin Show” — in a minute-long effort that featured the comic sliding up into the frame 18 seconds into a “September” remix and dancing around in a plain white T-shirt emblazoned with “SEPT 21" and “THAT’S TODAY.”

The 2017 incarnation featured a long-sleeve white T-shirt, Mylar balloons, confetti guns and a saxophone. The short-sleeve shirt was back the next year, plus a sing-along by members of the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir. That was the year the fundraising aspect began.

Adejuyigbe continued to upgrade both in complexity and production budget, employing a full mariachi band (2019) and a small plane pulling a “That’s Today” banner (2020) along the way.

What started with no budget years ago cost about $3,000 last year, he said. This year, it cost between $20,000 and $30,000. And yes, like the lady in the bar said, it has taken him months to get the most recent videos from concept to completion. Each year, the pressure has come earlier.

“Last year, I had a panic attack in a Home Depot when the song ‘September’ came on,” Adejuyigbe said. He took it as a sign that the end — of the videos, nothing else — was near.

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“One of the most fulfilling things about doing this video every year is using it to raise money,” he says in the latter half of this year’s video. He’s raffling off that basketball jersey painting, which he promised to deliver in person — even if you live in Australia or in space, but not if you live in North Korea or the 1950s Deep South — as long as COVID-19 cooperates. And yes, there are some jokes sprinkled in there.

Adejuyigbe also pledged to raffle off the actual Sept. 21 jersey if the total amount raised hit $100,000 — and that is going to happen, given that he’s already raised almost half a million dollars this time around.

Recipients of this year’s largesse include a nonprofit West Texas abortion-access fund, a Louisiana group helping with recovery from Hurricane Ida and a group promoting political action on climate change.

Updates

3:11 p.m. Sept. 21, 2021: This story was updated with comments from Demi Adejuyigbe.


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