Paul Black at Edinburgh Fringe: 'TikTok is the most influential app in the world right now'

We speak to Paul Black, one of Scotland’s best known TikTok stars.

Scottish writer Paul Black rose to fame during the pandemic with his comedy videos on TikTok
Scottish writer Paul Black rose to fame during the pandemic with his comedy videos on TikTok

With 7.2 million likes and more than 200,000 followers, he is one of the biggest Scottish names on the video-sharing app.

But Paul Black’s online fame spilled into real life with a sell-out run for his Edinburgh Fringe show Self-Care Era, which he is now taking to London.

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"I think TikTok is the most influential app in the world right now,” he tells us, while promoting Irn-Bru’s venue in a giant can at the Fringe.

Paul Black with Myles Omar, Steven McKell, Olivia Topalian and Jamaica Street (Photo Irn-Bru)
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The electric-orange pop-up has appeared at the foot of the Mound, inviting members of the public to go inside and watch original TikTok clips from Scottish creators.

“There’s so many talented Scottish people that are quite overlooked,” says Black, who is joined by the likes of Steven McKell (3.5m followers), @mylesomar (150k), @jamaica.street (95k) and Olivia Topalian (67k) – all comedic creators like him whose lives have been changed by TikTok.

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"TikTok makes it so much easier to make content,” says Black ,”You can put comedy sketches on and it doesn’t matter if they look terrible, quality wise, as long as they're funny. You can do it with nae money. Comedy is quite accessible, I liked that.”

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The Irn-Bru 'comedy in a can' venue can be found on The Mound for a limited time during Edinburgh Fringe (Irn-Bru)

The 25-year-old from Glasgow shot to fame during the pandemic with his perceptive clips, often covering uniquely Scottish subjects.

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These include an impersonation of a Scottish mother perching on her hungover child’s bed after their night out, and a sketch about saying diluting juice in front of an English person.

“It’s relatable, observational comedy,” says Black, “I try and make stuff that makes my friends and family laugh.

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"I have always been a writer. This allowed me to build my own audience. TikTok’s really changed my life in term’s of allowing me to do this full time.”

But his favourite video is a sketch about undercover police at gay clubs. Black does not shy away from politics and social issues in his videos.

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He has been outspoken about his support for Scottish Independence and says he is “excited” about the prospect of indyref2 in 2023.

"Scotland has never had a government it has voted for in my lifetime,” he says, “I want Scotland to have a future that it votes for.

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"It’s a divisive topic but it’s important. We should all be discussing it. In a year’s time I think [TikTok] will be hugely influential on both sides.

"Sometimes I wonder if people are like ‘shut up and be funny’. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have beliefs because I do.

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"Comedy is a really accessible way to discuss politics. Josie Long, for example, is so funny but so political. It’s an amazing way to make [politics] accessible to people.”

The Irn-Bru Canned Laughter venue is free to visit and can be found on The Mound from August 18 -22, between 12pm and 6pm each day.

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