Comedy content is still king on social media, it just went rogue under the influence of Gen Z

Key takeaways:

  • Comedy content results in the highest engagement rates on social media
  • 76% of Gen Z want to see comedic content on TikTok
  • Humorous ads are 1.6 times more effective than non-humorous ones

Gen Z’s enigmatic sense of humour is reshaping the comedy scene on TikTok, perplexing traditional media and brands along the way. Yet, comedy remains the undisputed ruler of social media content, especially for the 18-24 age group. And if you’re thinking this is because of TikTok you are very, very right.

As a next-generation digital media company creating content for younger generations since 2019, we’ve amassed extensive data and insights into their preferences. Comedy, seamlessly integrated with TikTok, stands out prominently among their content choices.

Still sceptical? A whopping 76% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK stated they want to see comedic content on TikTok, including from brands. When asked what they liked most about the brands they follow on the app, a majority (65%) said they either liked that “they have funny content” (34%) or that “they entertain me” (31%).

Forbes’ second annual Forbes Top Creator list—which has a combined 2.6 billion followers and made an estimated $700 million in earnings (up more than 20% from 2022’s $570 million score)—underscores comedy’s significance, featuring numerous comedy content creators such as OG meme king Fuck Jerry, stand-up comedian Matt Rife, and TikTok overnight sensation Khaby Lame.

So it’s pretty clear that you can’t afford to be sleeping on comedy content if you’re looking to engage with Gen Zers across digital, but how can you do it authentically and successfully? We’ve got you covered.

No shame in jumping on the bandwagon

Because of how TikTok’s algorithm works, once you’re on the platform, the next step is getting users to find and engage with your content. And how can your brand do that? Viral TikTok hashtags, of course. Contrary to a common misconception, going viral doesn’t always mean inventing a brand-new hashtag and pouring hefty ad budgets into it. TikTok is a trend factory, especially for Gen Z.

Unless you’re the brand of the moment—think Diesel and its recent #forsuccessfuliving or Hugo Boss when it partnered with no other than cool girls Tube Girl and Dixie D’Amelio to promote the #bossmilanshow—jumping on existing trends can be just as effective. After all, TikTok proudly declares, “trends start here.”


It turns out that the Tube stops in Milan. Welcome to the #BOSSMilanShow 🔋 #DixieDamelio #tubegirl

♬ greedy – Tate McRae

Among TikTok’s top 25 hashtags, you’ll find #funny, #comedy, and #meme. While it’s tempting to use hashtags like these that are consistently popular, keep in mind that they’re also incredibly competitive.

In the realm of Gen Z, humour isn’t just about hashtags—it’s a cultural currency. Audio trends and meme familiarity can be your ticket to their hearts, providing a much-needed dose of levity. Remember #CornKid? Such moments resonate well, showcasing your brand’s lighthearted side.

TikTok: a melting pot of comedy content

Gen Z’s desire for fun is incredibly meaningful and has helped them traverse some difficult times. For example, 72% of Gen Zers said COVID-19 memes made them feel “capable of getting through” the pandemic. 

This desire for fun content hasn’t diminished since. Though TikTok content creators play a large role in entertaining Gen Z, this cohort are also looking for fun from brands too. When asked what the best ways for brands to engage with them on TikTok were, the largest per cent (28%) stated “make me laugh.”

These digital natives were born into a world of technology, making social media and the internet ubiquitous parts of their lives. As a result, they have a keen understanding of internet culture and memes. Gen Z have popularised memes and inside jokes, often using off-the-beat humour as a form of cultural commentary. This meme-like approach to humour often leads to content going viral, allowing for widespread sharing and engagement.

Pre-Gen Z, comedy often adhered to more mainstream humour standards that were shaped by established media networks. These standards might not have been as inclusive or representative of diverse voices and perspectives, lacking the variety and inclusivity seen in today’s comedy content. Gen Z value authenticity and relatability in everything they consume. Comedy that mirrors their daily experiences, challenges, and humour is more likely to resonate with them.

And who better to speak to them than content creators who are part of that generation? Gen Z creators often infuse their personal experiences, struggles, and unique perspectives into their comedy content, creating a sense of connection with their audience, so make sure you partner with the right talents in order to avoid getting labelled ‘millennial cringe’.

Prioritise short-form, bite-sized humour and TikTok native features

Before Gen Z became the dominating influence and source of authority on what performs and what flops on the internet, traditional platforms like TV, stand-up shows, and sitcoms dominated the comedic scene. Like many other forms of content at the time, comedy often took the form of longer narratives, sitcom episodes, or extended stand-up routines, which catered to a different attention span compared to today’s shorter, bite-sized comedy prevalent on social media.

Widely known (and often demonised) for having shorter attention spans and being constantly on the move, Gen Zers gravitate towards short, punchy, and easily consumable content, even when it comes to comedy. Platforms like TikTok, YouTube Shorts and Instagram, which excel in short-form video content, have become popular hubs for sharing funny, witty, and relatable moments—duh.

If you’re not looking to go down the road of UGC for your brand, just look at other companies that have somehow managed to make a name for themselves as comedy pros on TikTok. Ryanair probably comes to mind, which shot to fame by using TikTok’s native greenscreen filter on its planes—a filter many other brands have found success with.

By using this filter to further tap into popular trends, the company has gained massive popularity and now has over 2.1 million followers and more than 34 million likes.

Long story short

You want to reach Gen Z without looking like you’re trying too hard and making them cringe at your attempt or sounding just plain boring. Comedy content is how.


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