15 Insider Tips To Break In As A Comedian On TikTok
My comedy group, Two Tree Hill, gets most of our fans from our TikTok page, around 125 thousand to be exact. As someone who's main draw comes from TikTok, I wanted to share some of the factors my comedy partner and I consider every time we crank out another video. Here are 15 tips for TikTok comedy that will raise your followers, while letting you keep your soul.
Make What YOU Find Funny
When I was just starting out as a stand-up comedian I sent a Facebook message to Australian musical comedian Sammy J to get some advice and what he said stuck with me. He said “I reckon the most important thing is to do what you find funny - not what you think other people will find funny. Then you can never have a bad gig. If people aren't laughing, so what; they just don't share your sense of humour.”
Make what makes YOU laugh, and you’ll never feel like you’re selling out, or embarrassed by a video. And if you’re not laughing at your own video, go back to the drawing board.
Look Out For Trends
Is there a trend that everyone is doing on TikTok right now? What’s your spin on it? How do you play off of that established joke? Is the sound already popular? TikTok is going to push your video to people who already like that sound, and like that trend. Why not capitalize?
TikTok is a game, and you need to know the rules.
What Is Everyone Talking About?
TikTok is an app that is based on trends and shareability. Your video will only be successful if people share it with their friends, and they show their friends, like a pyramid scheme. My most recent success was a Morbius video, while everyone knew Morbius was bombing. People were talking about nepotism on twitter, so we made a song about it and it performed great.
Think in terms of “what are people going to send to their friend, because they were just talking about it.”
Meet Other TikTok Comedians And Work Together
TikTok, despite its faults, has excelled at pushing creators with similar sensibilities together. This may be down the line but did someone with over 20k follow you? Message them, and nurse that relationship. Through them you’ll meet more like-minded comedians and eventually have a Discord with 30 TikTok comedians (like me).
These are your peers, they know what the TikTok grind is, and they’ll want to brainstorm with you if they like your stuff, or maybe even collab.
One For Them, One For You
A script writing rule that stuck with me was “One for them, one for you.” Meaning, for every video that you make that follows all these guidelines and is manufactured to get numbers, make a video that breaks the rules and is just for you. This is incredibly important for not losing your voice and maintaining your sanity. And TikTok is full of surprises, it may just blow up.
Don’t Give Up
Unless you are incredibly lucky, most of your videos are not going to perform well. Even with 125k followers we have videos all the time that get no more than 300 likes. This is the nature of the beast, throw every idea at the wall until something sticks. But again, if you find it funny, and it doesn't perform, who cares if no one saw it? You know it’s funny.
TikTok is a numbers game, baby. Post, post, and post again. If your brand is your personality just post thoughts you have throughout the day. If you do heavy edits like I do, get out at least 2 videos a week if you can. The more you throw at TikTok the better chance you have of succeeding.
Build A Community
Interacting with your community is important as it may not grow your fanbase, but it will increase the strength of your fans. The best TikTokers go live and talk directly to the people that like their content. Reply to your comments to boost engagement. Give your fans a name. Give people a reason that they should want to see more of you.
Get Your Message Or First Joke Out In The First 5 Seconds
This is an important rule of thumb if you’re consistently making TikTok comedy. You NEED a hook. Something interesting or funny should happen right off the bat or people will swipe away. If not a joke, get your setup for the bit out there right away, TikTok and ADHD go hand in hand so give the people what they want.
Caption Your Videos
This is just good practice for all TikTok posting. Whether you do it in app or in your editing software, caption your videos. People appreciate it, and you know people are going to understand what you’re saying.
Repeat What Works (To A Degree)
This may feel like selling out, but that’s why we have the one for them one for you rule. If something you make does well, figure out what about it did well, and do it again. Did you interview people on the street? Did you write a funny song? Did you cast a fake movie? Do it again, but don't make it ALL you do.
Why did Please Don’t Destroy become the most popular style of internet comedy in recent years? They move fast. Quick cuts, quick jokes, quick exit. Don’t give the audience time to catch their breath. This isn’t a rule for all comedy, just TikTok, where you are forever trying to keep people from swiping away.
Learn The Community Guidelines
This is just good common sense. Say you made the funniest video anyone has ever seen, but you’re holding a knife in it. Sorry, but no one will see the video, and you have 2 more strikes before your account is banned. Don’t show marijuana, Don’t say “suicide,” and don’t bully wickens (an actual offense I got.) Learn the guidelines and avoid them like hell.
Use Nostalgia To Your Advantage
People love nostalgia. This is the retro equivalent of “What are people talking about?” What were people talking about when you were a kid or teenager? Write a sketch about something from the 90s. People eat that s**t up.
Whenever I talk to brands about their TikTok presence I always make sure they know that TikTok audiences weed out anyone disingenuous. They want to connect to someone who they can relate to, and feel like they know. Be honest when you can, and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
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Top Image: Arin Sang-urai @PhotoJuice