Henry Rowley: The British ‘posh boy’ who became one of the year’s breakout TikTok stars | Ents & Arts News

December 17, 2023
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Henry Rowley couldn’t be more honest about enjoying the recognition that comes with going viral.

“I really do love it,” he says. “Partly because I’m a vain ****!”

The 25-year-old was a standout performer at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, a prospect which not long ago would probably have made him laugh more than one of his own jokes.

No longer a mere marketing executive after finding fame on TikTok, the comic’s growing collection of skits and impressions – each personifying parts of pop culture and society we can all relate to or poke fun at – have seen him amass more than 1.3 million followers.

“It was pretty cool,” he says of the first video that really took off.

“Each time you hit a milestone of numbers it’s so surreal, the fact so many people have seen your video.

“But I think also I was keeping in mind that a lot of people probably don’t find it funny or even find it annoying, it’s just the nature of comedy, especially online.”

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Fringe comics tell favourite jokes

Growing up ‘posh’

Since he shared his first video last year, Rowley has developed a cast of his own characters to go along with the countless celebrity impressions and film parodies.

There’s Minty and Hugo, “the music guy at afters” and “the walking ick”, the husky-voiced posh girl Delicatessen.

None of his clips are more popular than those sometimes self-deprecating riffs on Britain’s upper class, speaking in tones that would embarrass even Jack Whitehall and Boris Johnson.

And at this most wonderful time of year, when Love Actually is as inescapable as mince pies and turkey, he’s certainly not letting his Hugh Grant and Keira Knightley impressions go to waste.

“I’d grown up in Leicester being the posh one of my friends, and always sort of taken the p*** out of it,” he says.

“Then suddenly I was in Bristol University surrounded by these posh kids and the minute they heard I was from Leicester they saw me as this little street urchin. I’m really not! So a lot of it is based on friends I made there, and sometimes even myself.”

Rowley doesn’t take any negative feedback to heart – any comedian who does probably isn’t long for the circuit, although putting all your material online certainly makes you an easy target.

Those who aren’t keen “normally just hate me from afar”, he says. “Which I’m OK with!”

Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually Pic: Peter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock
Image:
Love Actually’s Hugh Grant is a regular source of inspiration. Pic: Peter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock

A simple formula

With his videos attracting 69.1 million likes on TikTok, earning him fans all around the world, it’s safe to say he has mostly found himself an enthusiastic audience.

While few are safe to embed in a family-friendly news article, each clip strives to be relatable in some way.

As someone who had the misfortune of enduring the entire Twilight saga this year, his recreation of what it’s like to watch them is painfully accurate.

The unremarkable selfie-style framing and sharp runtimes also suit the platform perfectly.

When Rowley’s fans see him out and about, he can’t help but enjoy hearing about how much they enjoy his work.

“It’s such a nice interaction meeting someone, finding out they find you funny or enjoy what you’re doing,” he says.

Read more:
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TikTok’s most popular trends of 2023 explained
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But there’s no real formula to his success, he insists.

Well, no formula beyond doing something he loves – and he’s now making a living out of it.

“If you don’t enjoy making the videos or don’t like the end product, what’s the point in doing it?” he says.

“People always say to me, ‘why do you always laugh at your own jokes?’ And I say ‘because I find them hilarious. If I didn’t then I wouldn’t say them.'”

Well, that and he’s a vain so-and-so.



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