How Comedians Think How to Create the Perfect Tiktok

There are many myths about how TikTok works . I know firsthand how many funny people struggle to get any support with their own jokes. Even if there is no single secret of how to go viral, there must be some major contributors to online success, right?

Recognition time: I’m doing stand-up comedies (wait, don’t go). I went viral several times. I would not call myself a viral creator, but I would call myself an over-the-top analyzer who has deep, impressive thoughts about why something is or doesn’t occur to a large audience on the Internet. There must be some social media expert who can explain why a video like this can get millions of likes in hundreds of nearly identical iterations. (If I had to name it? Something to do with controlled chaos.)

Looking through the videos I like, I don’t find many professional comedians, but instead a lot of silly one-off movies, little kids roasting adults , or this dog on wheels . The challenge to articulate what makes something go viral just shows how difficult it can be to try to “hack” the TikTok algorithm. So what does it take for a comic book script to cut through the noise?

To sort this out, I reached out to some comedians who have had success making people laugh both online and offline. So, while the gist of your content depends on your individual comedic genius, there are key ways, in particular, to make the most of the TikTok landscape.

Get attention immediately

Vincent Ward (@ vward98) , who has amassed over 100,000 subscribers for his pop culture-infused comedy videos on TikTok, says that “if you don’t get people’s attention within the first five seconds, they’ll scroll.” Ward points out that compared to Twitter, Instagram, or even YouTube, TikTok is unique in that it has no whitespace. There is no buffer between one piece of content and another (which often leads to a gap between light cat videos and heavy conspiracy theories). With this style of high-speed scrolling, you won’t have a second chance to follow your content.

“People need to be hooked within a second or two,” says Lucas Arnold, comedian and voice actor with 2.2 million followers on TikTok (@lukasarnold) . To do this, use visual effects. Arnold recommends creating a headline or caption that instantly draws people in, or “any image to give an idea of ​​what awaits us if the audience stays close.” As you scroll through Arnold’s video, you will see his videos tagged in such a way that you get a taste without ruining everything, like “the most metallic joke I’ve ever told. “We also covered how to use text and captions to effectively grab people’s attention.

Trim fat

It is widely believed in the comedy world that comedy is less about writing than about editing. New York-based stand-up Lindsay Lucido , who has 95,500 followers on TikTok ( @lindsaylucido ), says her top priority is to keep videos as short as possible while still being fun. “I know I scroll when people don’t get to the point,” so consider cutting out anything you don’t need to make you laugh.

This does not mean that your video should show you talking all the time, at least in the words of Vinnie Thomas , whom you can recognize from any number of his iconic videos in front of his face (but perhaps best of all from this Galactic Federation interview video Membership land). “It would be nice to include some kind of negative space where you react to what you just said,” he says, “maybe wait a few seconds before cutting.” Thomas continues that sometimes “the funniest part of a video is not the words, but what happens between the words.”

Likewise, Lani Sanders ( @ilovelancelot on TikTok ), whose work has appeared on CollegeHumor, Reductress and Netflix’s Astronomy Club , highlights the fact that “you don’t have to monologue every opinion.” A great comedic skill is knowing when to say “end of story.”

Always use your gut when it comes to your assembly room floor. Ward says his number one tip is “trust your original instinct.” As Lucido mentioned, it is not always worth trying to “crack” the algorithm. Otherwise, you run the risk of thinking hard about what makes the video funny in the first place.

Watch first, then publish

We’ve already talked about the value of the time spent on the For You page. Arnold also stresses the importance of exploring the landscape before exhibiting himself there. Arnold, who joined TikTok five days after it closed in March 2020, says that before posting, you should “study the pace of the video, understand what content people like, and see where you can fit in.”

Lucido agrees that while “it seems like the algorithm is constantly changing the way it pushes the video,” she struggles to work alongside content styles that are getting a lot of views. Both Lucido and Arnold note how they enjoy gradually adding new styles of material between videos that consistently do well. On that note …

Build What Works

One of Arnold’s first TikToks , to over 100,000 likes, combined the popular meme at the time with his impression of Obi Wan Kenobi. He says that to capitalize on this, he presented a few more impressions – first he started with the Star Wars characters he knew people would follow him and then gradually worked on new material. “Give people what they want and then do what they didn’t know you have to offer.”

In addition to throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks, TikTok offers video analytics that Arnold recommends using if you’re curious about when your followers are most active and want to post relevant posts.

Make yourself laugh

While it can be rewarding to create the same videos your fans love, Arnold says the most important thing is to “stay true to yourself – don’t get cornered by content you don’t like.”

“Keep making yourself laugh,” Ward says. The advice is not purely useful, but practical: “If you don’t like it, the audience will understand it.” Viewers are rewarded for and perhaps even punished for lack of credibility.

Likewise, “don’t feel like you need to jump to the top of what’s trending,” Thomas advises. “Do something you like.” Thomas also recommends moving away from the script and adding a rhythm of real spontaneity. Or, as Thomas put it, “Always take time to say what comes up your sweet ass – no script.”

If you’re wondering where to start, Sanders recommends “share what’s stuck in your head for years.” All the creators I’ve spoken to have at some point raised the importance – and pleasure – of finding a niche that works for you.

Final thoughts: bet on your own mental health

Ward shared with me how easy it is to connect your personality to how successful – or poorly – a video is. He says something he’d like to know before posting is the importance of “separating yourself from the character I’ve curated for other people … it will not only hurt the creative process, but the way you see yourself in the mirror. “.

It’s no secret that fame isn’t always what it should be, and the TikTok adaptation of this tale is no exception. As someone just getting a taste of online popularity, I believe we don’t have the right language yet to describe what it means to stalk and even achieve moderate, short-term virality. Nonetheless, the appeal of external verification is very real and very insidious.

If you’re chasing influence online, you need to understand how fickle it is. Arnold’s advice: “Accept that many things are out of your control and believe that you are better than you think.”

At the risk of sounding trivial: If you are the type of person who wants to please other people with your funny videos, then you need to bet on your own joy first.


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