It has not been kind, but 2020 has—in some ways—been a great leveller. Wherever you are in the world, it’s likely that you’ve had this experience: you wake up. You open your phone and check the news. You feel so fed up with it that you can no longer bring yourself to shower (can anyone really tell over Zoom anyway?) so instead, you procrastinate, open Instagram, and—as if a gift from above—you see a genius meme or an impersonation video that sends you into fits of delirious laughter. The capacity for joy and amusement returns and you go about your day.
If you’re in need of a little more of this uplifting spirit, however, or have simply exhausted Netflix and your contacts as a means of keeping yourself entertained during lockdown (perhaps even second lockdown), the good news is: we have you covered. Below, a list of the must-follow Instagram accounts for injecting a bit of hilarity back into your Internet diet.
The patron saint of Instagram humour, Saint Hoax comments on contemporary culture and politics by drawing from their encyclopedic knowledge of, well, contemporary culture and politics. There’s a delightful smattering of camp: Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Mean Girls, Drag Race, Tyra Banks and Mariah Carey among Hoax’s memes. Donald Trump also has a regular starring role: the butt of the joke. Who is the person behind the account? All we know is that Hoax is an artist and satirist from Syria. Beyond that, they remain elusive to their 2.6 million followers.
“When The New York Times messaged me about doing an interview, my first thought was, ‘It’s about time.’” Meet the 19-year-old queen of the internet Elsa Majimbo, from Nairobi, Kenya, who captures what we’re all thinking with her quippy social commentary. Posting across Instagram and TikTok, her selfie videos almost always contain three simple but powerful ingredients: nonchalantly stuffing crisps into her mouth, putting on sunglasses like a boss and her infectious high-pitched laugh. Expect gags about the joy of flaking on plans with your friends (especially with the excuse of lockdown) or the annoyance of only getting five likes on your social posts—two universal truths we can all relate to. Thanks to Elsa for distilling the global #mood.
With a casual 7.4 million followers, Australian comedian Celeste Barber has built a brand on being the ‘everywoman’—just funnier. She describes her book Celeste Barber: Challenge Accepted! (HarperCollins) as “253 steps to becoming an anti-It girl” and her Instagram offers even more inspiration.
Barber is most famous for imitating photos of celebrities and models—posting her own version of the images alongside the original, in order to show precisely what most of us mortals would look like if we were cast in the same shot. Barber is not mocking influencers themselves, but influencer culture (OK fine, sometimes she is mocking Gwyneth Paltrow). Her humour critiques the impossible beauty standards that Instagram can perpetuate, and her success speaks measures about what we really want to see on the platform.
Sometimes lauded as the person who saved 2020 (battling it out with maybe team Biden-Harris and the scientists racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine), LA-based comedian Jordan Firstman’s Instagram impressions have taken the internet by storm. It is the level of specificity that’s the clincher—scroll the feed for: “This is my impression of banana bread’s publicist,” or “This is my impression of the person who decided tomato is a fruit,” or “This is my impression of coffee finally sticking up for himself in regards to pumpkin spice.” His impressions are at once both surrealist and incisive. Plus, he is incredibly stylish. It’s easy to see why JT is the world’s new crush.
Comedian (and girlfriend of Angèle—the Belgian pop star who just released the single Fever with Dua Lipa) Marie Papillon’s following has been building in France over the past year or so, as has the popularity of Bibi, her dog and regular co-star. Her humour is light and silly, littered with impressions, self-deprecating jokes and slapstick humour. If you’re a French speaker, follow her fellow funny French Instagrammers Anaïde Rozam and Camille Lellouche, too.
You don’t have to already be obsessed with astrology to find writer and self-professed meme lord Courtney Perkins funny. It’s very likely that by following her, you will end up obsessed with astrology anyway. Posting memes, the account offers a searing commentary on the best and worst attributes of each zodiac sign (if it’s your sign’s season, you’ll get a special roasting). Don’t be fooled by the name @NotAllGeminis either, no star sign is safe. This is the perfect account to tell you something about yourself that you didn’t want to know and school you on which signs you do or don’t want to be dating.
A comedian living in New York, Servideo has been building a cult online following with her bizarro character comedy over the past few years. From spoofs where she goes to Brandy Melville stores and shoots skits guerilla-style pretending to be one of the cheery teenagers working there to videos where she pretends to fight with an invisible boyfriend in the street, and Anubis—the “basic” shopping-loving vampire—Servideo’s work is exquisitely silly. And at this moment, what could possibly be more important?
A golden oldie, Reductress has been around for a while, but is still going strong. Most easily described as similar to The Onion but for women’s magazines, Reductress is a satirical publication putting out mock headlines and articles upending sexism, or riffing off whatever is happening in the news. “These Men Can’t Wait to Hire a Strong Woman who Holds Every One of their Opinions” is a recent classic from the account. As is “Woman Just Calling Everything Self-Care to See What Sticks” and “Woman Says ‘I Love this Song’ After Every Song on her own Playlist”. Their choice of stock photos for each post makes it that much funnier.
A well-established comedian in Japan, Watanabe first came to fame in 2008 with her brilliant Beyoncé impression on TV. Since then, she’s become the most-followed person on Instagram in Japan and even has her own filters (she’s also joined TikTok). Watanabe is a body-positive role model and fashion designer, but despite her many career leaps, making people laugh has remained tantamount. Expect funny, candid video updates from her life and a whole lot of cuteness.
Drag queens have long been lip-syncing, but as cult TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race has been exported around the world, the art form has become explosively popular. TikTok, which lets you overlay songs onto your videos, is awash.
Lip-syncing is also increasingly called upon for political satire. Cut to Sarah Cooper, the American comedian whose Trump lip-syncing videos went viral in spring 2020. Her Netflix comedy special Everything’s Fine was a playful look at what 2020 has put us through, and she continues to post her lip-syncing videos across Instagram and TikTok.
Vogue columnist, bestselling author and man about town Raven Smith runs one of the funniest British Instagram accounts. His well-timed image curation draws from the most mind-boggling and ridiculous things going on in pop culture, alongside pithy and smart captions that add another element of relatability. His feed is full of celebrity moments that the celebrities themselves would probably rather forget.