Comedian Khaby Lame has become the king of TikTok, all without saying a word.
With over 142.9 million followers, Lam has dethroned teenage dancer and content creator Charli D’Amelio to become the most followed person on the platform.
Lam, 22, who was born in the West African nation of Senegal and now lives in Italy, creates videos in which he wordlessly reacts to life’s absurd hacks, garnering millions of views and likes with each post.
For the past few weeks, his fans have taken to social media to get past D’Amelio on TikTok. On Instagram, Lame has 78.3 million followers compared to D’Amelio’s 48.8 million.
Lame, (pronounced Lah-MAY), started posting videos in 2020 after losing his job as a factory worker in Italy in the early days of the pandemic. He spent his days holed up in his parents’ house in the Italian city of Chivasso. , looking for work One day, he downloaded TikTok and started messing around with it in his bedroom, posting videos of himself under the name Khaby Lame.
At first, like many TikTokers, he created clips of himself dancing, watching video games, or doing comedy impersonations. In early 2021, he started making fun of the life hack videos that flood social media platforms, reacting with a wordless shrug or a look of exasperation.
“The idea came to me because I was seeing these videos circulating, and I liked to bring some simplicity to it,” Lam told CNN last year. ” I thought of a way to reach as many people as possible. And the best way was not to talk.”
In addition to life hack videos, Lam also posts short comedy skits featuring his expressive reactions, but without words.
His reactions epitomize “head shaking,” or SMH in the internet acronym. After approaching a task with common sense, Lam stretches out his arms with his palms facing up, as if to say ‘yay’. Sometimes he rolls his eyes or shakes his head.
These quiet but telling reactions have made him one of the most popular digital creators on social media.
“You don’t have to speak to be seen or understood,” Christina Ferraz, founder of Houston-based public relations agency Thirty6five, told CNN. “His anger is relatable, and the feelings are universal.”
Lame’s sharp sense of humor has attracted fans around the world, who regularly send him videos of people doing simple tasks in complicated ways.
His stoic facial expressions have made him a meme star, with his face being reposted in reaction videos on social media.
Lame did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on his new reign as a TikTok account. But he told CNN last year that he wasn’t posting the videos for fame.
“I don’t care if I’m number one, number two or number four on TikTok. I started making videos because I wanted to make people laugh during that time of lockdown,” he said. “And I continue to make videos with the same ideals. I am happy about my achievements, but they are not my main thing.’
Lame has said that one of her goals is to work with her favorite movie star, Will Smith.