HomeBusinessWelcome to CringeTok, where being insufferable can be lucrative.

Welcome to CringeTok, where being insufferable can be lucrative.

During a three-part special examining the crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer that aired last November on “Dr. Phil,” Phil McGraw, the daytime talk show host, performed a tik tok videos of a 27-year-old woman named Stanzi Potenza as evidence that true crime bigotry had gone too far. In the video, Ms. Potenza said she was so obsessed with Netflix’s “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” that she stayed home from work in diapers to enjoy the series uninterrupted.

It turned out that Ms. Potenza had made a video lampooning true crime obsessives and Dr. Phil mistook it for something sincere.

Ms. Potenza is a comedian and cringe actor who describes herself as a “comedian from hell”. She has garnered millions of followers on TikTok and YouTube by posting PSAs explaining the man, sarcastic imitations of Satan, and completely dry parodies of the horror movie “The Purge.”

“Personally, I think some of the best comedies are a bit painful,” he said. “It hurts so good.”

As a concept, cringe is deceptively difficult to describe. As a category of content, cringe is very broad, encompassing everything from outdated cultural norms still strategy used by musical artists to reach true fans. Cringe isn’t just one thing, but you know it when you see it. On TikTok, you can make a career out of being intentionally embarrassing in a niche area of ​​the platform known as CringeTok (I know this because my brother, a former lawyer, has been making embarrassing videos for a living since spring 2020).

Ms. Potenza has a degree in theater and completed a six-week acting program at William Esper Studio in New York, so she feels a natural on camera. She ventured into posting cringe-comedy videos during the pandemic as a way to continue working her trade while places were closed. An early TikTok video of her crying while applying clown makeup garnered hundreds of thousands of views, prompting her to post more.

She now has over 3.8 million followers on TikTok, a large enough following to translate into lucrative brand deals, bonuses, and merchandise sales. Videos of him, he said, have earned him more than $200,000 a year.

Popular creators on TikTok can make a living in all sorts of niches on the platform, including making make updeal clocksbe old – even drinking flavored water. But CringeTok is more like putting on a show.

To create the perfect CringeTok video, creators explore the depths of the internet and their own experiences looking for features that they can overdo. Identifying behaviors that set us back, like self-absorption and forgetfulness, requires an ironic amount of self-reflection. Cringe-comedy creators often create time to dream up sketches in their schedules. Filming can last as little as an hour, often from the comfort of the creators’ rooms.

These videos are different from unintentionally embarrassing videos where an overabundance of seriousness combined with a lack of self-awareness makes viewers uncomfortable.

In those cases, “we’re not laughing with you,” Potenza said. “We are laughing at you.”

Riri Bichri started posting CringeTok Videos in 2020, and in April she quit her job as an electrical engineer to pursue content creation full-time. She has built a following of 800,000 subscribers by turning to 2000s rom-com tropes, fan fiction, and her own cringe-worthy behavior for inspiration.

“If I’m not ashamed of what I did yesterday, if I’m not ashamed of what I did yesterday, I didn’t grow up,” Ms Bichri said.

Brad Podray, 40, is an orthodontist in Des Moines whose TikTok account, the bastard dad, was originally a riff on the work of another TikTok creator, Nick Cho. Known online as your korean fatherMr. Cho plays a wholesome, fatherly figure who treats viewers as if they are his beloved children.

“A lot of my mainstream comedy is based on identifying trends and deconstructing them to the point where they are no longer recognizable from the original inspiration,” Mr. Podray said.

His POV-style videos feature a series of short sketches in which Scumbag Dad exposes his fictional son to increasingly volatile situations. At the beginning of season 1 of the skits, Mr. Podray steals his son’s prescription painkiller, and in season 6, his son helps him kill drug dealers.

“Unfortunately, I was never able to complete the series because TikTok banned me too many times,” Podray said. TikTok bans videos featuring youth exploitation and abuse, fictional or not, in the community guidelines, but Mr. Podray continues to make other types of parody videos. He said that he makes around $150,000 a year from his content on TikTok and YouTube.

In July 2020, TikTok established the creator background to reward popular accounts and encourage content creation. He initially committed to distributing $200 million and now expects the fund to grow to more than $1 billion. However, the amount each creator receives can vary.

“Payouts from the Creator Fund are based on a number of factors,” said Maria Jung, TikTok’s global product communications manager. “These factors include what region your video is viewed in, the engagement on your video, and the extent to which your video adheres to our community guidelines and terms of service.”

Has been widely reported that eligible creators typically get a few cents for every thousand views a video gets, though Ms Jung would not confirm that figure.

Creators with millions of followers and views per video can earn a few thousand dollars a month from the Creator Fund. Having an engaged TikTok audience also allows creators to expand their reach on other social platforms. Meta discontinued its Reels Play bonus program in March, but creators can still earn money with Facebook Ad Reels, a program that works similarly to YouTube’s revenue distribution model.

Cross-posting content to increase revenue streams is a common practice among creators.

“It wasn’t until I monetized on YouTube that I really started making real money,” said Ms. Potenza. “To make a living from this, you have to use a lot of different methods to make it sustainable.”

YouTube’s business model is different from TikTok in that it shares 50 percent of its advertising revenue with its creators.

The combined revenue from social platforms can be significant, but the most lucrative opportunities come from brand partnerships.

Ms. Potenza recently created a sketch in which she played John Wick Therapist to promote the latest film in the John Wick franchise. Mr. Podray’s patrons include Insta360, a camera company, and Lovehoney, an online sex toy store.

As the number of followers and average views per video increase, so do their rates. Ms. Potenza secured her first branding contract in 2020 and filmed a branding video for $150. The following year, as her account grew and she hired an agent to help negotiate, her fee increased to $5,000 per video. These days, she wouldn’t take less than $10,000 for a sponsored post.

Ms Bichri has landed brand deals with companies like CashApp, Bubble Skincare and Pluto TV, but she’s not sure how much money she’s made because, she said, her agency he has not paid for the work you have done.

A nationwide ban on TikTok, proposed in Congress because of the app’s Chinese ownership, would call into question all sources of income for creators, not to mention hard work.

“Seeing a group of congressmen talking to the CEO of TikTok about things they don’t understand was really embarrassing,” Potenza said. “It makes me super pro-China right now.”

What is not shameful today may be shameful tomorrow. Like death and taxes, shame comes for everyone eventually. So it should come as no surprise that brands are interested in getting involved. Being authentically embarrassing is still authentic.

Wendell Scott, 32, is a production coordinator in Atlanta who instructs Delta Air Lines on how to create effective content for social media. He uses his idle time to create Tik Tok Videos in which he provides one side of a chilling conversation in a duet or video stitched together with other creators. In a video With nearly two million views, he plays a founding father who discovers John Hancock’s large signature on the Declaration of Independence.

“To me, shame is something we’ve all experienced, but we don’t like to talk about it,” Scott said. “Every single person has had some kind of weird, wacky moment or something that they think is out of character, but it’s actually very real. And I love bringing that to life.”

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