How Jake Shane claimed TikTok’s comedy throne

He made a name for himself reviewing octopus dishes, before turning his hand to hyper-specific reenactments of historical events, such as John Hancock’s mega-signature on Declaration of Independence. What could possibly be next?

Jake Shane’s TikTok career started with tongue-in-cheek videos of himself reviewing various iterations of his favourite food octopus – hence the handle @octopusslover8. But when he decided to branch out into slapstick reenactments of historical events (the first being an impression of Bill Clinton during his affair with Monica Lewinsky), the crowd went wild. Now, the 24-year-old has 2.8 million TikTok followers and over 261 million likes under his belt, as well as a podcast, Therapuss, that’s hosted the likes of Camilla Cabello and Charli XCX, and dedicated fans who eagerly request all manner of skits.

Often set to the sound of his friends’ wheezing giggles, over the past few years Jake has played a Roman construction worker realising the city would take more than a day to build (“It’s just not gonna cut it – you have to get permits”), a disciple gossiping about Jesus at the Last Supper (“he won’t put his card down”) and thunder finding out lightning comes first (“a towel would be great”), among dozens of other hyper-niche scenarios. In every skit, though, it’s the unpretentious, off-the-cuffness to Jake’s physical comedy that makes you stop scrolling.

My dad really gassed me up as a kid and said I was pretty funny,” Jake says, from his home in Los Angeles, where he’s based full-time. He’s blaring the AC, in recovery mode from two major life events: Coachella and the release of Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department (“Each of her albums usher in a new era of my life. She is so good”).

Still, in spite of parental encouragement, he wasn’t always confident in his comedic chops. I was quite insecure about it, to be honest. When I really found my best friends, who laugh at everything I say, that’s when I realised I was funny.”

Born in LA, Jake moved to New York aged two, growing up in Washington Heights before moving back to the West Coast to study at the University of Southern California. I was a good student: talkative, a little rebellious, especially in terms of authority,” he says. While working at a PR company, he began recording the octopus reviews that started it all. Then came a stint as an executive assistant at an entertainment company, which proved more fruitful than expected.

It was a weird switch, because [as my TikTok took off], the guy I was executive assistant to became my manager,” Jake says. When that happened, I was working with the same people, so it was hard for me to be like, I’ve quit my job and am doing something totally different now!’ But that was when things got real.”

@octopusslover8 Replying to @user2035752864190 ♬ original sound - Jake Shane

Hey, Jake! Why do you think people are so into your TikTok videos?

I did a bunch of TikTok stitches way back in the day, which helped me realise that my humour had a place on the app. But when I started doing skits, I realised my specific inflection and tone were resonating. For me, it’s about figuring out the fine line between over-exposing things and keeping them contained. You can’t hear the same song every single day and it’s kind of the same with the videos.

Who do you look up to?

Kristen Wiig, Rachel Sennott, Maya Rudolph. I love Whitney Cummings. I love female comedians – Bridesmaids is one of my favourite movies of all time. Then, with a show like Baby Reindeer, I loved how Richard Gadd is able to turn his trauma into a dark comedy. I also love Pete Davidson and Dave Chappelle.

Comedy can be a good vessel for processing feelings that aren’t so funny…

Yeah. The whole idea of comedy is kind of like, Please laugh at me so we can all make sure that this is fine!” I’m one of the most insecure people I know, which is why I find it to be such a fun outlet. You’re able to make jokes about your insecurities and have people laugh. It’s never that serious.

Still, there are millions of people watching your videos. How do you contend with that level of visibility?

I don’t really know how visible I am, to be honest. More people follow me than ever, but I don’t feel like they’re waiting on my next move, if that makes sense. If I did feel like that, it probably would have a bit of a negative effect on my comedy. I think I’m able to still be myself. I am conscious of what people think of me, which I used to care less about, but I’m really trying to work on saying whatever I want.

Watching Girls was one of the first times I felt very seen in terms of my mental health on TV. The way Lena Dunham portrayed OCD was very cool”

Talk us through the creative process behind your skits…

There’s a lot of sitting around, going through comments, talking out scenarios. I watch a lot of TV – sad, happy, mystery, comedy, you name it. My whole shtick is imitation, so I like to absorb stuff and regurgitate it out in different formats, depending on the situation I’m performing in. There’s not loads of prep involved. If I feel like I can do it, I’ll do it on the spot. If not, I’ll think about it for a minute. Things move so fast, I mostly kind of lock into my improv brain. If something connects, I run with it.

What’s your favourite video you’ve made so far?

Probably the one where Cinderella is trying to find her Uber. I thought it was really funny and I was really confident in my comedy at the time. I could’ve played it so many different ways and it could’ve been so unfunny, but I think I made it work.

What’s the last thing you watched that really made you laugh?

Do you listen to Folklore? There’s this song on there called The Last Great American Dynasty, with a lyric that goes She was seen on occasion around town”. Someone made a TikTok that was like, She was seen on a cajun around town”, and they edited her on top of some seasoning. It was so stupid, but I laughed.

What have you been watching lately?

I just started Under the Bridge on Hulu, with Riley Keough and Lily Gladstone, and it is so amazing. The last thing I binged besides Baby Reindeer was Girls on HBO. It’s my favourite show of all time.

Which character do you identify as?

Hannah, unapologetically. Real ones will always say Hannah. Watching Girls was also one of the first times I felt very seen in terms of my mental health on TV. The way Lena Dunham portrayed OCD was very cool.

You’ve also been writing more poetry recently. Tell us about that…

My poems! Those started because I lost my luggage and I was so angry. When I tell you… It was pulsating inside my veins and I was like, I need to be funny about this. I don’t even know how I did it because I was so angry, but I started writing poems. And people thought they were funny, thank God. It became a bit that I kept doing. Sometimes when I feel too insecure to act out a skit, I write a poem because I still want to make people laugh. Hiding behind words helps sometimes.


What have you learned about yourself since blowing up online?

That I really don’t know myself at all. When your job becomes yourself, it’s like, who am I?

How do you process that?

You write a lot, you listen to a lot of music. I try to take in a lot of art and create whatever I can. That’s all you can do! I’d consider myself to be pretty self-aware, so, you know, therapy.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Probably the first time I ever saw my name in a magazine. I remember being at one of my best friends’ weddings and thinking I was on cloud nine – like, I’ve made it! Launching my podcast, too.

What’s next for Jake Shane?

Hopefully acting. I really want to get on the screen and do traditional media. I love it with my whole heart. To be on TV, in movies, plays, Broadway or something… That’s the dream.

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