Brent Moore '22
It is safe to say that TikTok has taken the world by storm. With its 2.5 billion global downloads from 2016 to November of 2020, it was the past year's most downloaded app. To those who question its appeal, TikTok, and its content, may seem childish, absurd, and cringeworthy. Some parents dislike the app because of the sheer number of hours their children spend on it. To parents like mine, TikTok is true to its name: a time-wasting app where, according to my mom, influencers like “James Savage (James Charles), “The Amelio Twins (Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio), “The jock who is dating the Amelio twins” (Noah Beck? Chase Hudson? Who knows), “All the Paul's” (Logan and Jake Paul), and “Tana Mongo” (Tana Mongeau) sit around and do nothing. Other parents may be worried about the potential security threats of the app, as Former President Trump attempted to ban TikTok on the basis that the Chinese government could potentially access user data, censor political topics, and spread misinformation.
Yet, to the members of Gen-Z, 6 to 24-year-olds (let’s hope that 6-year-olds are not on the app), TikTok is changing how comedy is produced and viewed in a time when humor is much needed. The 30 to 60-second video format is much like its predecessor, Vine, which had a 6-second format for content. Despite the wide array of apps where comedy is also readily available, TikTok is currently the most popular platform to produce and view comedy. In an extremely digital world, comedy in video format like a TikTok video has even helped traditional comedians. It was not until stand-up comedian Carmen Lynch posted a humorous exchange with her boyfriend on TikTok that her work began to gain traction. That video reached 1 million views, and since then, she has amassed hundreds of new followers seeking her content. Comedic output through video platforms like TikTok is a way for Lynch to build an audience, hoping that the popularity she receives online translates to higher ticket sales when live shows return.
The pandemic has undoubtedly increased the need for lighthearted comedy as a means of distraction from the hardships of the past 10 months; TikTok has proven to be just the place for this. The humor found on TikTok is undoubtedly absurd and cringeworthy at times. Still, this lighthearted content that can be consumed endlessly with just the swipe of a finger supplies relief and a distraction to creators and viewers alike. Proven by Lynch’s example, TikTok also provides the perfect platform for creators and regular teenagers to pursue comedy, as it promotes the idea that becoming a comedian, even from home, is an attainable goal.
Who is to say if TikTok’s massive popularity will keep growing or if it will eventually face the same demise that Vine did. Will another app follow in TikTok’s footsteps and again alter how comedy is viewed and produced? Putting aside speculation, one thing is for sure: TikTok and its content are not going anywhere anytime soon.