I’ve never been much of a follower of stand up comedy, if I was scrolling through channels on TV back at my parents it would be one of the last things I’d select. As an industry I feel like it often had a reputation in the 2010s for being the most ‘cringe’ of the entertainment sectors. That is, like many things, until TikTok.

The hashtag “comedy” on TikTok has 20 billion views — more than the hashtags for food, fashion, and music, according to data provided by the social-media platform in April. Stand-up and sketch comedy are viral genres on the app, each growing by about 139% and 88% year over year as of April, TikTok told Insider.

Let’s face it, the internet in general has always been a comedy first place. One of the earliest most viral videos was a YouTube clip of ‘Charlie bit my finger’ – a video of an older brother’s finger getting bitten by his baby brother Charlie and having a very British, very adult-like reaction. 

But what has set TikTok apart from other platforms for internet comedy, and helped it change the industry, is its algorithm as TikTok allows users to easily find the humour they’re craving and suggests creators to follow. Be it queer humour, British humour, my feed for example is filled with comedians of Latino heritage stating how comedic it is to grow up in a chaotic Latin household. 

This algorithm has therefore allowed comedians of various niches to find their audience. TikTok’s impact on comedy content goes beyond the app, too, as its rise puts pressure on competing apps like Instagram and YouTube to emulate its short-video success and break new talent. 

Several TikTok creators said it’s helped them become more financially stable thanks to brand deals and other paid opportunities, while others explained how it’s made the industry more accessible for people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. It’s also broadened the scope of what it means to be a professional in the comedy space.

Many comedy insiders traditionally equated success with booking national tours, sold-out shows at famous venues, or a part on a well-known TV show like “Saturday Night Live.” Now, it’s become broader as comedians tap into the creator economy: gaining thousands of followers on social media, working with brands on paid deals, starting podcasts, or launching paywalled content. And TikTok has become the go-to platform for up-and-coming comedy creators, beating YouTube, Instagram, and others. 

However, as for many creators of many niches and sectors, the downside of TikTok is that it can transform you into a one hit wonder. Creators who manage to go beyond this tend to see TikTok as a “stepping stone” into the broader entertainment industry. In an Emma Chamberlain-esque fashion, these creators start off as creators and use the audience to leverage into their own business. 

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