7 social media comics to follow for online laughs: from Celeste Barber to Harry Trevaldwyn

From Johnny Berchtold’s skewering of Hollywood character cliches to Khaby Lame’s deadpan anti-life hack TikTok movement, here are some of the funniest people you’ve never heard of

Instagram comic Celeste Barber and TikTok comedian Khaby Lame have proved ground-breaking stars in online comedy. AFP; EPA-EFE
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It’s not technically a saying, but it’s true that for every sense of humour, there’s a comic ready to deliver the laughs. Slapstick, parody, sarcasm, sending up, surrealism, stereotyping and silent comedy are only a few of the genres a trawl through social media will yield, all waiting to provide the belly laughs.

It didn't take the pandemic, which shuttered global comedy clubs for more than a year, to prove that the traditional routes to comedic fame, such as toiling away as a stand-up for years, aren’t necessary any more. Simply put, if you’ve got a phone, an internet connection and a funny idea, you can start creating comedy.

Australian comic Celeste Barber, a celebrated stalwart when it comes to online comedy, has proved the internet is the place to be for no-holds-barred laughs that pluck at the thread between celebrity and reality. Another recent breakout star, Sarah Cooper, found fame by lip-syncing along with speeches by Donald Trump, parlaying her internet success into a comedy show called How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings, based on her 2018 book of the same name.

From cliched movie characters to song ideas crafted from Facebook arguments about broccoli, here are seven comedians you should be following on social media:

Johnny Berchtold, @johnnyberchtold

To fans of Netflix’s The Wilds, he’s Quinn, Nora’s quiet, sensitive friend from college, but to his 148,000-plus followers on Twitter, he’s the horror film aficionadowith a penchant for putting his own stamp on movie cliches.

Posting regular videos to his feed, Berchtold serves up slices of classic Hollywood, putting his own edgy, slightly manic spin on things, with videos such as: “The scene after the rich girl introduces the loner boy to her friends”, “The protagonist’s best friend at the beginning of a horror movie”, “The edgy version of the hacker character that the hot girls go to for help”, and “Protagonist in teen drama that is new to town and succumbs to peer pressure which kicks off the plot.”

Next up, the comic, 27, will be spotted in Netflix’s Dog Gone opposite Rob Lowe. But for his thoughts on fame, check out his short: “Me pretending to do a publicity interview for a movie I was in that doesn’t actually exist.”

Celeste Barber, @celestebarber

If you haven’t yet come across Barber’s celebrity-skewering comedy on Instagram, where have you been? The A-list have been flocking to the Australian comedian’s account since she began parodying the photoshoots, social media posts and videos the stars themselves post. And in Barber's comments section is where you'll find the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon laughing at themselves.

“My intention first and foremost was to make people laugh,” Barber told Stylist of her Instagram account, which has more than 8.5 million followers. “The people that I parody are really good sports and it has been fun to get to know them. Some celebrities even send me pictures and say, ‘Can you do this?’ which is cool.”

Khaby Lame, @khaby.lame

With 121 million (and counting) followers on TikTok, the Senegal-born Italy resident has gained a legion of fans thanks to his deadpan delivery and comic timing. Serving up insights into modern life, the digital star’s fame has been stratospheric, and he does it all without saying a word.

"I came up with the idea because I was seeing these videos circulating, and I liked the idea of bringing some simplicity to it," Lame, 21, told CNN. "The type of gesture came by chance, but the silence didn't. I thought of a way to reach as many people as possible. And the best way was not to speak.”

After losing his job as a factory worker, Lame took to the social media platform to silently mock the “life hacks” the site had become famous for, quickly proving you don't have to put a bin liner on your head to sort out your rubbish.

Blaire Erskine, @blaireerskine

If you like your news less hard-hitting and more in the style of The Onion, Blaire Erskine is the online comic for you. Having honed her skills as a staff writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Erskine’s Instagram and Twitter feeds are packed with videos of her many alter egos, including a collection of increasingly fragile and misguided women, such as scarily clueless newsreader and corporate spokeswoman.

A cursory glance and it would be easy to think Erskine’s parodies are real, but a deep dive and careful attention paid to what she's actually saying reveals the genius behind her characters “Local woman running for governor”, “Spokesperson for Meta” and “Woman stranded at MAGA rally in Omaha”.

Harry Trevaldwyn, @harrytrevaldwyn

The self-professed “national treasure” has carved out a niche on Twitter by developing characters that are perfectly, awkwardly British, mirroring an apparent lack of sociability from his own teenage years. “At university, I would quote SNL instead of developing a personality of my own,” he told The Guardian.

Having starred opposite Timothee Chalamet in Netflix’s The King, Trevaldwyn creates very British scenarios on his feed, such as that awkwardness when you’re trying to get a free sample in a shop, a “chill board game” that is anything but, and the “person who comes to brunch and makes it all about themselves”.

Also enjoyable is the smugly upper-middle-class, kombucha-quaffing, humble-bragging parent you’d avoid like the plague at the school gates. Except when it’s Trevaldwyn, you want to stick around and watch.

Lubalin, @Lubalin

@lubalin

#ad if anyone can bring big wiener and big bun together, it's @heinz_ca HeinzHotDogPact.com 🌭 #coolingmistakes #hotdogs

♬ original sound - Lubalin

Fiercely protective of his real name, which remains a secret, what we do know about TikToker Lubalin is that he lives in Montreal and writes parody songs with accompanying videos, all based on real internet drama. The comedian trawls sites such as Reddit, Yahoo Answers and Facebook Marketplace to find questions and comments to use, which he then creates professionally produced songs around.

Modern inconveniences he’s tackled through his songwriting include, “Why are there never enough buns in a pack when I’m trying to buy hot dogs?”, “How to get a long text back” and “She stole my broccoli.”

“Someone the other day said they’d lost someone to Covid and that they were going through the darkest time of their life – and that my video was the light in their day,” he told the LA Times. “I was like, ‘Oh, my god, this matters.’ Even if I’m just that guy, that’s fine.”

Flora Anderson, @Flora_Anderson

The British comedian gained traction during the pandemic thanks to her “Feminist Bond Girl” Twitter post, in which she takes 007 scriptwriters to task: “Oh hello, you’re James Bond are you? I’m an astronaut. My name is FTSE 100.”

Citing fellow surrealist Bo Burnham as an influence, Anderson told Tatler: "Once a friend had a spare ticket to Bo Burnham's first show Words Words Words and the whole experience of randomly discovering this person who was so hilarious and thoughtful just blew me away.”

The Londoner certainly shares a love for the absurd with the man behind the internet’s favourite Jeff Bezos song, and some of her standouts include “Ex ballerina at cyber”, “Interview with the horse after the Olympics Equestrian Dressage” and “Space Hipster” who eye-rollingly announces: “How am I breathing? Erm, I went to art school.”

Updated: December 04, 2021, 4:39 AM
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