Talking Squid Games, Incorporating Suggestions from Followers, and Posting On YouTube Shorts
"I love seeing comments that are like…'How did I get to this side of TikTok?!'"
In Squid Game, the Korean hit show on track to be Netflix’s most watched show ever, individuals who are deeply in debt play children's games to win money — or die trying. With immense buzz around this series echoing throughout social channels, TikTok creator Corey Tonge wasted no time. He headed to his green screen, recorded himself playing the role of multiple popular gaming characters (Mario, Pikachu) as if they were contestants in one of these children's games, and then jumped to the computer to edit. A few hours later, Corey Tonge posted the final result to his TikTok channel (@coreytonge) to receive 7.1 million views...and counting.
Corey’s content is best described as gamer comedy. His videos imagine different scenarios and interactions between popular gaming characters, including those from Mario, Pokemon, COD, and Minecraft. For the most part, he sticks to four different formulas for his videos, which he listed off as: “sus videos,” “the overly-dramatic crying series,” “characters or character’s best friends dying” or "the gamer dad series.”
At this point in the conversation, I asked Corey what a “sus video” was, to which he laughed and cited King Chris (@itskingchris) as an inspiration, who long ago coined the term being “sussy” (referring to suspicious behavior). Boiled down, the term refers to “uncomfortable behavior between two characters," ie. this TikTok of Wario and Mario falling for each other.
What really sets Corey’s content apart in this niche though, beyond the imagination, incredible facial expressions and ability to imitate seemingly any cartoon voice, is how he creates unique worlds for each video — the result of green-screen filming and spending many hours at the computer editing. For each video, Corey designates four hours to craft the perfect background, adjust the sound, and engineer the clips to fit just right. By doing this, he’s come to be known for “putting [himself] in different worlds.”
In addition to production quality, Corey is also focused on cultivating a strong community. He cites that he tries his hardest to comment back as frequently as possible, adding “every single morning as soon as I wake up and am having my coffee, I’m just trying to show them how much I actually appreciate everyone's support. Because without those thousands of comments and thousands of people behind the screen, I’m nothing really….you know what I mean?” On top of commenting back, he’s also built a Discord channel where he can converse with his following. Corey even goes a step further by allowing his followers to occasionally help build his content, as he’ll take a suggestion for a video from his comments and build a TikTok script based off that comment. Mix all of these strategic elements together, with 2 posts a day since December 2020 — and Corey has amassed 1.3 million TikTok followers.
With this momentum, Corey recently left his role in marketing to create content full-time, monetizing through brand deals and merch (soon to be launched). He’s additionally been creating content that's both optimized for TikTok and YouTube Shorts, after watching one of his good friends “blow up on Shorts” and go from 0 to 300,000 followers on YouTube in 4 months.
What’s next? Don’t be surprised if you see Corey on Netflix or as one of the founding members of a new creator house in Toronto.
Wrapping up my conversation, I asked Corey about his favorite part of this journey, to which he told me how much he genuinely just enjoys the process of creating... “I love making videos where by the end I’m laughing while I’m editing. A lot of the time, I’m like ‘Oh God, what am I doing,’ but a lot of times I’m laughing and wondering how I came up with this weird idea...don’t look at the numbers and believe in what you’re creating.” ★