How write a viral TikTok character, feat. Simon Hennessy
The Dublin-based creator on accidentally becoming a comedian.
Embedded is off to eat turkey for the rest of this week, but here’s a creator worth bingeing on your phone under the Thanksgiving table. —Kate
Opening my For You page can feel a bit like Cheers. More often than not, I’m welcomed by the same familiar characters my algorithm has figured out that I know and love, and many of them quite literally just that: characters.
I follow a lot of comedians who have built entire universes of humorous personalities whose personas they seamlessly alternate occupying for 60 seconds at a time. But there may not be another character on the app as specific and yet so broadly appealing as Simon Hennessy’s “Remy.”
Remy, the French guy in your class with terrible English, is how I first came across Hennessy, along with millions of other people who routinely view the Irish creator’s videos of the character. The joke is simple enough—an overly confident French student has a lot of problems with his class and classmates (especially Linda), but no problem with the fact that his grasp of the English language is mediocre at best.
Hennessy’s other characters include Breffney, a south Dublin lad practicing for social occasions; Pascal the Rascal, a primary school (elementary school, for the Americans out there) influencer; and, simply, “your parent’s friend.”
“Not long after the lockdown started, just like a lot of people, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands,” Hennessy tells me over Zoom from Dublin. “Unlike most people, [who] tried to better themselves in some way, learn a new skill, how to make banana bread or something, I was like, how can I get attention in a world where I can't see people face to face? So it just seemed to make sense to force myself onto the internet.”
Hennessy got the app a few months before the lockdown, but he didn’t start making videos in earnest until early last summer. Now, he’s grown a following of almost 160,000.
In this interview for paid subscribers, we spoke about making authentic comedy on the app, and his formula for writing a viral character.