During the pandemic, TikTok emerged as a major force in comedy. By letting anyone share short and funny videos, the social media platform gave birth to a new generation of budding comedy stars.
The social media company took note of the new trend and is this year among Edinburgh’s annual comedy festival sponsors and hosting a virtual stage at the same time.
Some of the biggest TikTok comedy acts that are performing at Edinburgh this month are parts of that generation who are using TikTok to bypass the traditional routes to make their names.
A few years ago, and comedian coming to Edinburgh hoped to be spotted by an agent or TV producer who might one day be able to help them build a global fanbase.
“In the age of TikTok, performers like Christian Brighty can do it by themselves in a few months”, writes Ian Young the BBC Entertainment & arts reporter.
Brighty is one example of a British comedian whose career has been boosted by TikTok. The 28-year-old TikToker is going to tour America next year which was impossible to do on your own before.
The comedian from Cambridgeshire has 430,000 TikTok followers and just half of them are based in the United States.
“And I now have enough people to go and take my show to America. That’s insane.”
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However, doing comedy on the platform is quite different from standup comedy.
Brighty used to do standup comedy in 2019 before the pandemic and argues that it is impossible to take what you do on TikTok and put it in front of an audience live.
“It won’t work,” he told the BBC.
He describes TikTok and standup comedy as siblings because they require different sensibilities.
“There’s stuff in the [live] show that’s far too slow for TikTok because on TikTok you need a joke immediately, it needs a strong visual, and the idea needs to be at the header. Whereas you can’t do that on stage.”
Abi Clarke is another British comedian who emerged from the pandemic with a large following on TikTok. By the time the lockdown ended, the 24-year-old stand-up comedian based in Bristol finds herself with hundreds of thousands of online fans.
Clarke now has 840,000 followers on TikTok and 360,000 on Instagram.
However, she believes that there is a lot of pressure on TikTok than on a traditional standup comedy show.
“You get to be a bit naughtier on stage, whereas I think on the internet things can get taken out of context or people who speak different languages don’t understand you’re joking. So I think you’ve got to be very wholesome online. You’ve got to be your chirpy self”.
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Edinburgh Fringe runs until 28 August and one notable trend that is coming out of it is that TikTok and comedy are going to enjoy a meaningful and profitable relationship in the years to come.