For a glimpse into the struggles, mindsets, and interests of today’s youth, TikTok is the place to be. In only a few years, the app has managed to forge a bond of mutual understanding and support between teens from all over the world like no other platform has done before.
It wouldn’t be a lie to say that comedy forms a significant portion of the foundation of this bond, and, while Gen Z humor may often be difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand, it’s obvious that some creators have mastered it and have managed to build significant profiles around it.
Amongst these creators is Ethan Poisson (@ethan_fish24), who has created a TikTok platform (@ethanp0iss0n) with a following of over 1.2 million, predominantly through the recreation of the videos of others for comedic effect. With 89 million likes and counting, it’s undeniable that Ethan’s content has managed to catch the attention of teens everywhere.
The Teen Magazine recently had the opportunity to interview him on his life and his platform, and now shares with readers the aspects of TikTok’s favorite comedian creator that we don’t get to see in his usual fifteen- or thirty-second clips!
On Himself, Ethan Poisson
What is one thing you wish your followers knew about you?
While Ethan posts regularly and can always be found interacting with followers in his comment section, it’s clear that what we see on the screen barely scratches the surface of the person he is.
In an effort to share a little more about himself with his supporters, Ethan responds to this question by saying, "I wish they knew about how shy I was. It may seem odd that I’m shy since I portray myself as extremely carefree and bold on the internet, but I am very shy in public. I’ve met a few of my followers, and each time I feel like I’m acting like someone completely different from the person they follow."
What was it like keeping up a regular posting schedule while simultaneously submitting college applications?
As Cletus, Bertram, and countless others have made clear, Ethan recently graduated as part of the Class of 2021!
Ethan tells us of the stress of managing both his platform and his educational future when he responds, "It was definitely one of the hardest things ever. Not only did I have to regularly apply to college, but I also was auditioning for musical theatre programs. It was all happening around November-February which was when I saw a surge in followers on TikTok. I went from 100k to 700k followers in those months. I was posting pretty much every day, so I could stay consistent. I knew, though, that I had to stay on top of all my college material. However, I managed to get into an amazing school, and I am so excited to attend in the fall."
If you had to start your account from scratch, would you make any changes to the type of content you'd post or the kind of person you’d portray yourself as?
"I honestly probably wouldn't change much. I really love my followers, and I couldn’t ask for better ones," Ethan says fondly. "I also enjoy the content I make because I can really make anything I want, and my followers still like it. I wouldn’t change how I portray myself because I really am the person I portray myself to be, maybe just a little quieter. I never want to be someone fake."
On Gaining His Platform
How has your perspective of yourself, of others, or of the world in general changed since you gained a following on TikTok?
Reaching such a wide audience and having your content critiqued by millions is sure to lead to a change in perspective.
When asked how his growing platform has impacted his worldview, Ethan responds, "Gaining a following on TikTok has really changed my perception of celebrities and fame. I don’t consider myself “famous” in any way at all but gaining 1.2million followers is a pretty big accomplishment. More recently, as I’ve gone out in public I’ve been getting recognized, which is so surreal. I’m not the biggest social butterfly, and I actually get pretty anxious in public, even before gaining a following. I love meeting followers so much, but I’m always afraid of making a bad impression or not seeming like I’m the same person online. I can’t even imagine how someone like Ariana Grande or Zac Efron can go out in public without fear of being recognized."
Did I fool you? ##fyp♬ Моя голова винтом - ✨Мᴀᴩᴦᴏ✌🏻
How do you think hate affects you or your content, and how do you choose to deal with it?
No matter who you are or what you do, any content creator in the public eye will receive hate. People deal with negativity in different ways, and when we asked Ethan to share his experience with haters, he relates how, “In the beginning, hate would really get to me. I would let one hate comment out of thousands of kind comments affect me."
"As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that I have so many people who love me on the internet and that they matter so much more than people who don’t like my content or find me annoying. Sending hate to someone from behind a screen is honestly just pathetic, so it really doesn’t bother me anymore."
How has TikTok connected you to lots of people you’d now consider friends? How did you make and maintain these relationships?
Through Instagram lives and features on various YouTube channels alongside fellow TikTok content creators, it’s clear that Ethan’s platform has allowed him to make good friends on the app.
"It was honestly pretty hard to make friends on TikTok at first," Ethan admits. "I didn’t become friends with a lot of people until around a year after I created my account. I had about 100k followers when I started making friends. The way I made a lot of my friends was by being added to Snapchat group chats. Once you meet one person, you meet everyone."
TYSM GUYS THIS IS INSANE ILY ALL!!!! 💚💚💚💚💚💚♬ Never but its the best part - Alex 🖐🙄
"I’m still pretty friendly with a lot of people, but I have a few people who I’m really close with and talk to every day. It’s nice because these people really understand my humor and jokes. They're also great to talk about Tiktok with because they’re experiencing the same thing as me. One thing that sucks though is that most of my TikTok friends live across the country, so we might not ever get to meet. It’s crazy because really anyone can get big on TikTok, so I’m meeting new people every day with all different size followings, and it’s been great."
As a young and growing influencer, what are some of the worries and pressures that come with gaining a considerable following?
It may be hard for some of us to imagine what it’s like to go viral and gain a significant international audience, and it may be even harder to understand that our favorite creators are just like us in more ways than one.
Ethan highlights this when he voices some concerns that come with a growing platform, saying that "one of my worries is not having as much privacy anymore. Obviously, I chose to put myself out there on the internet, but I definitely did not expect to end up blowing up so much. I wouldn’t give this up for the world, but sometimes people find old embarrassing pictures of me or they DM my friends/family which makes me uncomfortable."
What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone who hopes to be an influencer one day?
Just considering how long Ethan has stayed devoted to his comedic style shows how he loves what he does. That’s why it comes to no one’s surprise that his biggest piece of advice to aspiring content creators is "to make content that you enjoy making."
"One thing I’ve experienced," Ethan relates, "is that I will start to make videos that I don’t enjoy making but make because I know the TikTok algorithm will favor them. However, after a while, people can tell that you’re just making videos for numbers and not for fun. Always have fun with whatever content you are creating, and make sure you enjoy your own content."
On Creating Content
What is your creative process like? Who or where do you get inspiration from, and do you have any goals regarding how often you should post?
"One of the first things I did on TikTok that gained me some popularity was to make fun of the current trends. It sounds mean, but it's really just me doing trends wrong," Ethan tells us.
THESE NEED TO BE REAL 😍😍😍 #fyp♬ Hiiipower x DIAND - Michael
Did I fool you? #fyp
"For example, when the Vogue trend was happening, I did obviously bad pictures just randomly with the Vogue text on them. Now, a lot of my videos are me recreating other videos of people doing... interesting stuff," he says. "It’s sort of hard to explain, and none of my family understands them, but it clearly has an audience. My followers are usually the ones to tag me in other videos they want me to recreate. I also just like to make videos telling funny stories and anything else that comes to mind. I usually try to post at least once a day, but sometimes I give myself breaks so I’m not constantly having to think of video ideas. One thing I do want to dip my toe into is vlogging my days, but I haven’t tried that yet."
Is there a line you draw regarding which videos to recreate and which ones to not?
"Oh yes for sure," Ethan says confidently.
We've probably seen him tagged by followers in the comment sections of countless videos they want him to recreate. Some of us may be curious about which requests he chooses to accommodate and which ones he doesn’t, and regarding this, Ethan says, “I definitely draw the line at anything extremely over-sexual or anything that I wouldn’t want my family to see. Sometimes though, I do have to sacrifice my dignity for my followers, I’ll do anything for them to laugh. As long as someone finds it funny, I’m okay.
10 Quick Q's With Ethan Poisson
What is your go-to “There was this one time…” or “Remember when…” story?
My go-to “Remember when” story is when I flipped on my bike down a hill because it was super steep. Thankfully, it was at my friend’s house, so she immediately helped me. I vividly remember eating a banana and drinking water out of a styrofoam cup after.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Slime. I’m literally obsessed with playing with slime and it’s embarrassing because I’m 18 years old. I had an obsession when I was 14 and even made a slime Instagram. Then, like 3 months ago I became obsessed again; it will never get old.
What song do you have playing around the clock at the moment?
Either t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l (ft Travis Barker) by WILLOW or jealousy, jealousy by Olivia Rodrigo
What do you think is the most "main character" thing you've ever done?
I don’t really have many “main character” moments, but I guess one could be when I won an iPad at my elementary school fair. I think I was in 4th grade, and every year my elementary school had a “Fall Family Fun Night” with tons of rides and fun activities.
One thing I loved about it though was the basket giveaways. All the baskets had different themes like Halloween, Candy, etc. but there were also baskets with just pieces of technology like an XBox or a Wii. That year, there was an iPad basket, and I wanted that iPad so bad. I put all of my tickets into it and was determined to win. At the end of the night, the DJ started to call out the winners, and I was so nervous! He finally got to the iPad basket, and he called my name!
I was so happy that I almost cried. That iPad was one of my favorite things ever until around 8th grade when it pretty much died.
What do you best see yourself doing in the future?
I am going to school for musical theatre, so really anything to do with performing.
My biggest dream since I was a kid is to be on broadway. Although, as I’ve grown up I would love to be in TV and film too.
Which of the popular Pinterest aesthetics is your favorite and why?
Pinterest is one of the only social media I really couldn’t get into. I’m not aesthetic at all, so I felt like I could never post anything, but if I had to choose, maybe like tshirt-core. Is that a thing? I don’t think so, whatever.
If you were given a microphone that would project your voice to the entire world for ten seconds, what would you say?
I would probably say something like “heyyy what’s up everyone. Who else is bored right now?”
If you were stranded on an island with your friends, what do you think would be your role or your main contribution?
I would not be very helpful to be honest. I would be freaking out, but after a while, I would maybe like to gather materials for shelter and such. Maybe I would use the time to do some meditation or yoga and such. Maybe I’ll use some skills I learned from TV and movies, but I don't think I will remember much.
If you had to classify yourself as one, which high school stereotype do you think you would most resemble?
Theatre kid, sadly.
If you could donate a million dollars to any charity or organization, which one would you choose and why?
I cannot pick just one so here’s three:
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation because both my mom and my step-sister are fighting Crohn’s disease
The Trevor Project, which focuses on the prevention of LGBTQ+ teen suicide
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute which helps protect black transgender people's rights
Keep Up With Ethan
Big thank you to Ethan for the interview!