From TikTok to the Stage: How Paige Gallagher Is Writing Her Name in the Comedy Books

”Well, with stand up it’s a little bit scarier because it’s me. You know, it’s things that I’ve gone through,” comedienne tells LAMag
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In 2022, comedians are everywhere—every other TikTok or YouTube video is someone doing a skit, a trend, or simply trying to be funny. Perhaps it was an influx caused by eternal pandemic boredom, but the fact remains that comedic content ranges from very hot to very cold.

And Paige Gallagher, 27, is one of the comedians making sizzling content right now.

Born and raised in California by her Korean mother and white father, Gallagher initially began her career in acting at the AMDA College of Performing Arts on Yucca St. in Los Angeles. The entertainment world was something she knew she had wanted to pursue most of her life, but after her studies at AMDA is when she truly began pursuing comedy.

“I was a musical theater kid growing up,” Gallagher told Los Angeles magazine. “After college is when I really found my place in comedy. And that’s when I decided—about three or four years ago— that I really wanted to pursue comedy specifically, and not just acting and entertainment in general.”

She had the talent but needed a consistent platform to display it on. During the pandemic, that platform revealed itself in the form of TikTok—the social media application that has captivated consumers across the globe since the pandemic first began. In fact, TikTok counted a jaw-dropping average of 65.9 million monthly users in 2020, and the number rose by six percent in 2021.

After a conversation about writer’s block with her therapist took a tangent, she was recommended to “just put the camera on,” “improvise,” and “post it on TikTok” to her 40 or so followers—mostly made up of her friends.

Soon enough, Gallagher was gaining momentum on the platform by making skits of the multiple dreadful personalities she had encountered in her life such as the “popular girl,” the “funny girl,” and “rich woman in LA.” People really related to the content she was making, and those 40 fans skyrocketed to the almost 700,000 followers she has today.

We sat down with Gallagher to discuss her incredible comedy journey so far.


So, a lot of your skits are based around these “popular girl” and “funny girl” personas. What made you want to hone in on these?

Um, it’s actually kind of funny. During the pandemic, I started seeing a therapist—as most of us did. I was having writer’s block—having a really hard time coming up with anything new. And at that point, I had to talk but I didn’t post anything. My therapist said, ‘Well, why don’t you just put the camera on and just improvise, and then post it on TikTok?’ I took those characters from people that I’ve met in real life—people that pissed me off—and I kind of just make fun of them. And people seem to really relate. So that’s kind of how it started. Yeah. I just enjoy making fun of people that piss me off, basically.

As someone who does both stand-up comedy and TikTok, what is the main difference you have noticed between the two?

Well, with stand up it’s a little bit scarier because it’s me. You know, it’s things that I’ve gone through and I’m up there making fun of myself as opposed to characters. Onstage, if people don’t think I’m funny, that’s me and my story. So, it’s definitely more personal with stand up and it’s a lot scarier—it’s much more vulnerable. You’re like, ‘this is the ugly parts of me. It’s funny, right?’

Do you remember the first TikTok that you made that really went viral and kind of launched your popularity on the platform?

Yeah, it was a popular girl TikTok. It was a ‘POV you get paired up with the popular girl in PE.’ And that’s the one that really blew up and created this following of the popular girl character.

@pgally

POV: you get paired up with the popular girl for PE #pov #comedy #WhenWeWereYounger #PajamaJam #NeedToKnow #DoPacSun

♬ original sound – pgally

So how did you get started with all that? I know you said you started doing comedy about three years ago.

I was a musical theater kid growing up and then I went to a performing arts college, and I got my degree in acting. So, I’ve been sort of in the entertainment world—or wanting to be—for the majority of my life. After college is when I really found my place in comedy. And that’s when I decided—about three or four years ago— that I really wanted to pursue comedy specifically, and not just acting and entertainment in general.”

So obviously, last year, there was this huge rise in hate crimes towards Asian Americans and just Asians in general. So, was this something you personally felt on TikTok as someone who is Asian American?

I mean, it’s sort of the same comments and—quote, unquote—bullying that I’ve gotten my entire life, you know—comments about my eyes, or… well mostly just my eyes. I don’t have an Asian accent at all—very, very white girl on paper. Personally, I’m lucky enough to not ever have had anything horrendous happen to me. I think the biggest shift I actually felt was from people who consider themselves “allies” or whatever. I got weird texts all the time like “if you’re too scared to go to the grocery store alone, let me know” and it just felt almost patronizing.

In the pursuit of your entertainment career, have you encountered any judgment because of your Asian heritage?

Yeah, absolutely, and especially right out of college. When I was looking for representation, more often than not in my agent meetings or manager meetings, the only question they would ask is what other languages I spoke and the second I would say that I don’t speak any Asian language they would basically kick me out. And then also, just with casting in the way that in my auditions, it’s always Asian. I think that’s where I find a lot of freedom in TikTok—I am allowed to play whatever character I want. And it’s cool because I’ve never seen growing up—I’ve never seen a popular Asian girl or the comedic relief Asian girl. I hope that there are Asian people who are watching and say ‘oh, whoa, that’s cool. I look like her and I’m allowed to be silly and stupid and popular and dumb, and not the typical Asian cliche.’

If you could headline a ‘Queens of Comedy’ style Show with any two other comedians living or dead, who would they be?

I think Brittany Broski would be one of them. She is just so funny and I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t think she’s so funny and relatable with the way that she posts online. It’s just so casual and so real. And then the other one, her name is Melissa Ong—she’s another Asian American comedian. She is probably the smartest person I’ve ever met and she’s so funny. She quit her job at Google because she hated it so much, moved to LA, and said, ‘I’m going to become internet famous.’ I don’t know how to say this but I really admire her ability to not give a fuck, really.


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