The Absurdity of TikTok Comedy

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Illustration by Grace Park

Meghna Chandrasekar

Contributing Writer

Brimming with relatable content infused with obscurity, TikTok has created an enormous community of content creators with unique personalities, interests, and senses of humor. Far more developed than the basic “Instagram comedian” and yet, more diverse than the “Vine comedian,” is the TikTok comedian — and they are redefining an entire generation’s sense of humor. 

Chris Sutherland — a 25-year-old lecturer at the University of Southern California (USC) — does a lot more than teach physics. In his free time, he posts hundreds of absurd and relatable videos about school on his TikTok account (@sutherlandphys) and he’s racked up over 78 million likes and 1.2 million followers in the process.

@sutherlandphys

Sorry

♬ Blow Your Mind (Mwahchallenge) – Dua Lipa

To blow up on the comedy side of Tik Tok, all a user like Sutherland needs is a cell phone and a funny idea, and within hours the algorithm could drive the post to virality. Creators are able to hop on trends by manipulating popular sounds, and can easily add their own twists and originality to pre-existing memes. Features like duets introduce another creative medium; for example, users often “reverse duet” videos to make it appear as though the original creator responded oddly or inappropriately to another video. 

Many comedians on TikTok are young adults and teenagers who have access to a never-ending gold mine of relatable and funny content: their own minds. Even a simple humorous thought to oneself can be effortlessly transformed into a short TikTok their peers can find on their “For You Page” and share. 

Based on this simple idea, adding unique features like duetting, reusing sounds, filters, text-on-video, and trends are open for individual creativity, and TikTok has cultivated and further developed Gen Z’s charming and unique humor.

The videos on TikTok are anywhere from choppy, pixelated blurs to high definition, highly-edited content — but regardless of quality, most content has the ability to go viral. On the comedy side of TikTok, the crucial task is to match the comedic sensibilities of the highly influential Gen Z. Although difficult to achieve concretely, creators seeking to entertain their peers have churned out videos featuring satirical, ironic, chaotic, self-deprecating, dark, and utterly ridiculous humor enjoyed by a diverse audience.

Common trends circulating the platform include making parodies of popular videos or creators, posting witty POVs, and using song lyrics as oddly specific punchlines. Current events also heavily influence videos trend; for instance, the presidential debates inspired a flood of TikToks mocking the candidates. Current popular songs and games, namely “WAP” and “Among Us”, also find their way into many comedic videos.

If you are looking for original and Gen-Z-approved creators, check out @nmillz and @kriswrightt. They are just two of many TikTokers who have a special kind of satiric and relatable humor that appeals to hundreds of thousands of people seeking some instant amusement.

@kriswrightt

i’m not gonna lie i was really skeptical at first but i tried it for the first time last night and i was GONE ##cloudy ##trycloudy ##cloudydiffuser ☁️☁️

♬ original sound – (╹◡╹)

As our generation turns to our phones for relief from boredom and isolation in an especially lonely time, TikTok continues to satisfy Gen Z’s inexplicable sense of humor.

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