The coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in its global destruction and displacing power. Millions of people globally have died as a result of the virus, and millions more have lost their jobs. In these times of political and social uncertainty, entertainment has never been more important to people. Isolation as a consequence of this pandemic has made entertainment even more important; consumers locked in their homes often have nowhere to turn but to media platforms to remain in good spirits.
But of all the popular social media platforms experiencing a resurgence in interest during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, few have been more successful than TikTok. Despite challenges from the U.S. federal government, the company has only expanded and grown during the pandemic. In many ways, TikTokers view their platform as a way to socialize and keep their morale up, even as the world falls apart around them.
It isn’t just the platform that has seen tremendous success while people are locked inside their homes. TikTok personality Will Serra said that his account on the site has grown exponentially in followers since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In just a few months, Serra’s audience grew from zero to 108,000 people. His videos have gone viral all over the world, and he credits his self-aware brand of humor for much of the success.
Serra publishes content in a variety of niches. His comedy skits are the most popular; he remakes movie skits and creates meaningful satire. This variability in style has a lot to do with Serra’s unique background. He worked for several years in the United States Army, specializing as an intelligence analyst. After leaving the Army, he spent seven years as a defense contractor in Afghanistan, deleting all of his social media for security reasons in the process.
Comedy brings us together. All around the world, people isolated and hiding from a potentially deadly virus are desperately looking for an escape from the troubles of a tumultuous year. TikTok, in many ways, presents the ideal format for this kind of escapist comedy. The relaxed, fun vibes of one-minute skits, songs, and dances brighten the days of countless viewers across multiple demographics.
Serra began to hone-in his unique brand of comedy while serving in Iraq. He participated in short comedic sketches, but the kind of mass social media technology used by TikTok was not yet available at that time. Having visited 48 different countries, Serra’s comedic style is able to appeal to a surprisingly wide audience; his sketches have gone viral on several continents. Serra is older than many of the younger viewers who dominate the platform. But that hasn’t stopped him from making funny, goofy videos to make people smile.
According to Serra, the best part about making videos on TikTok is hearing from people about how his content made them smile during dark days. As the global pandemic and social isolation continues, the work of viral artists like Will Serra will continue to become essential. After all, we could all use something to smile at!