Edinburgh Fringe

Christian Brighty: All aboard the good ship TikTok

Christian Brighty. Copyright: Ben Meadows

TikTok viral star Christian Brighty on the world of possibilities the video platform offers alternative comedians...

TikTok. The cruise ship entertainment of the online content world. Now docking at our beloved fringe. I'm sure some comics resent TikTok's involvement in the fringe. And, to be fair, the partnership announcement couldn't have felt more tone deaf. "Here is, instead of our app, one showcasing your work to people probably not in Edinburgh". What a replacement.

But already the launch has led to comics joining in. Marcel Lucont for his fringe poster last year had his social media handles, and then next to the TikTok symbol the words "fuck no". He's now on 38k followers.

I genuinely think that it is the perfect online storm for comics. Simply put, there are more people on TikTok to watch content, than posting it. The opposite of every other social media platform. Stand-ups mainly tend to upload clips of them live. Great - use it! But at that point it's just a marketing tool. What if it can be more? What if it can encourage genuine creativity?

Really, I don't think the best that TikTok has to offer is for stand-ups. I think that TikTok is even better for the weirdos.

Christian Brighty. Copyright: Ben Meadows

If you're an alternative comic reading this, I'll bet your character or performance persona likely doesn't 'exist' on a stage. Unlike a stand-up, that's not their natural habitat. So why wouldn't you put your character in their actual environment? You can build a whole world on there. Alternative comics, TikTok is there FOR YOU.

My shtick is as the period drama TikTok guy. I dress up as a highwayman and rob people on my hobby horse. Or pretend to be a mysterious Mr Darcy character, staring across the ballroom. I now own far, far too many Regency gowns. Through my videos I've been able to grow story arcs, recurring characters - my own mini-sitcom. I have the most freedom and creative control I will likely ever have.

And it's gone pretty well, I reckon. I started in 2021, and now have 430k people who follow me. I've had 70 million views. The total watch-time - a feature that is such a flex from TikTok - for my highest viewed video is 7 and half years. I have wasted so much of humanity's time. That's a lot to answer for in the next life.

Christian Brighty

But, even more importantly, doing TikTok has vastly improved my live work. I am a much better comedian now. There are things about it that would help any comedian - making new videos almost daily, getting feedback from an engaged audience. Lovely. But it's not just a grind, it's about how TikTok can help the goofballs adapt.

When I started, I did a video a day for 30 days. And my videos were bad. Not completely unfunny, just really confusing and impenetrable. If you're making a 15 second video, it must be clear. Or people will scroll away. And by the end of that month, one had gone a bit viral. What a victory!

You can do whatever you want on there. Whatever dumb idea you have. But you learn to alter it, just enough, to make it communicable to other people. My live work previously was full of flops and failing. I saw it as my superpower. There is almost none of that in my debut show. Because there are other things I've discovered. It feels weird to say this but I now love jokes! My show still has the clown games and stupid props. But TikTok teaches you to make your work accessible enough, that an audience can be brought into your stupid universe.

And the gorgeous thing is that comics are already doing it! Today, wunderkind Lorna Rose Treen sits on 16k followers. That is a huge achievement in itself. But she only started in April. By the end of the year she will be on 100k, earning money from adverts, and have a fanbase of people who will come and see her shows.

Christian Brighty. Copyright: Ben Meadows

Tik Tok has given me the freedom to make whatever stupid idea I've had that day. I love what I am doing. It's a last grab attempt to hang on to my youth as I stumble out of my 20s. I'm an honorary Gen Zer, I hope and have decided. Sure, you can really back yourself into a corner where you end up forcing mutton chops on your face forever. But it's a fun corner, with beaches and stately homes and pissing about in a waistcoat.

Before I started, I was so worried I'd missed the boat. That I was too late. But you haven't, even now. The boat is big and it's parked like the Cutty Sark. Hop on.

Christian Brighty: Playboy is at Pleasance Courtyard at 9:40pm from 3 to 28 August (not 10 or 17). EdFringe.com

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