Khabane Lame is the most popular man on TikTok

When Italy first went right into a coronavirus lockdown final 12 months, Khabane Lame had simply misplaced his job at a manufacturing facility close to the northern metropolis of Turin.

He spent his days holed up at his dad and mom’ house in Chivasso together with his three siblings, in search of different jobs. Someday, he downloaded TikTok and began tinkering with it in his bed room, posting movies of himself underneath the identify Khaby Lame. And regularly, a stunning profession was born.

At first, like plenty of TikTokers, he created clips of himself dancing, watching video video games or doing comedy stunts. Then, earlier this 12 months, he started making enjoyable of the life-hack movies that flood social media platforms — reacting to them with a wordless shrug or a glance of exasperation — and he struck a chord.

Now Lame (prounouced Lah-MAY) is the most well-liked man on TikTok, with 114 million followers. The one different particular person forward of him is dancer Charli D’Amelio, a California teen who posts playful movies, usually along with her older sister Dixie.

And Lame, 21, does all of it with out saying a phrase. On TikTok, his silence speaks volumes.

“I got here up with the thought as a result of I used to be seeing these movies circulating, and I preferred the thought of bringing some simplicity to it,” Lame advised CNN in a current video interview.

“The kind of gesture got here by probability, however the silence did not. I considered a approach to attain as many individuals as potential. And the easiest way was to not converse.”


Lame is a slender Senegalese man with lengthy limbs and an expressive face. In most of his clips, he lampoons movies of individuals doing overly sophisticated hacks by responding with a simplified, extra logical method of doing the identical activity.

In a single video, Lame peels a banana together with his fingers in response to a video of somebody gingerly slicing open a banana with a cleaver. In one other, he reacts to a video of a girl noisily peeling a cucumber along with her tooth by utilizing a vegetable peeler to perform the identical activity.

His reactions personify the time period “shaking my head,” or SMH in web shorthand. After his common sense strategy to a activity, Lame extends his arms together with his palms going through upward, as if to say duh. Typically he throws in a watch roll or a shake of the pinnacle.

These silent however expressive reactions have made him one of the recognizable digital creators on social media.

“Perhaps as a result of my facial expressions are humorous and so they make individuals chuckle, this simplicity makes individuals chuckle and I adore it,” Lame mentioned.

One marketer says the recognition of Lame’s movies present how nonverbal communication can transcend language boundaries and make connections throughout cultures.

“You needn’t converse to be seen or understood,” mentioned Christina Ferraz, founding father of Houston-based advertising and marketing company Thirty6five. “His exasperation is relatable, and emotions are common.”


Lame’s deadpan humor has attracted followers from all around the world, who frequently ship him movies of individuals performing easy duties in sophisticated methods.

“They know I am the one who solves issues so that they tag me or point out me and so they’re like, ‘Khaby it is your flip, remedy this downside as a result of we’d like you,'” he mentioned.

His stoic facial expressions have additionally turned him right into a meme star — together with his face reposted in response movies on social media.

In contrast to another social media stars, Lame’s movies should not overproduced. They seem natural and use easy actions and imagery to convey humor, which boosts his authenticity and reinforces his level about making life easier, Ferraz mentioned.

She additionally believes his content material resonates with individuals as a result of he rose to fame throughout a time when the world was on lockdown from quarantine.

“Individuals had been scouring social media for each escapism and connection,” Ferraz mentioned. “The shortage of verbal communication permits the viewers to focus solely on his actions, and no different which means will be utilized aside from what he’s actually doing or expressing.”

To her, Lame’s movies reveal ‘how usually we make life harder or sophisticated than vital. I feel most individuals desire to maintain issues easy.”

Lame is likely one of the fastest-growing content material creators on TikTok. He is gaining a mean of virtually 200,000 followers a day and is on tempo to eclipse the platform’s hottest star, in line with Social Blade, which tracks social media analytics.

However Lame mentioned that is not why he began posting movies.

“I do not care if I am first or second or fourth hottest on TikTok. I began making movies as a result of I needed to make individuals chuckle in that interval of lockdown,” he mentioned. “And I maintain making movies with the identical beliefs. I am blissful about my accomplishments, however these should not my most important issues.”


Like his recognition, Lame’s background transcends totally different continents.

He was born in Senegal and moved to Italy together with his dad and mom when he was a 12 months previous. He spent most of his life in public housing, which he credit with shielding him from racism and exposing him to the world past Italy.

“There we had been individuals from each ethnicity, so we’d shield one another rather a lot. There was by no means a difficulty about racism,” he mentioned.

Whereas he is not but an Italian citizen, he speaks fluent Italian and mentioned he considers the nation house. He is utilized for citizenship and as he awaits the method to undergo, he mentioned it has been arduous for him to journey to occasions in the USA and different international locations on his Senegalese passport.

However the incapacity to journey hasn’t affected his fame. His recognition — he additionally has 47 million followers on Instagram — has opened doorways to partnerships with worldwide corporations, together with Netflix, Italian meals firm Barilla and Indian fantasy sports platform Dream11. Lame has a number of different offers within the works that he cannot disclose but, he mentioned.

Lame declined to say how a lot cash he makes from the partnerships, though the largest social media stars can earn thousands and thousands of {dollars} a 12 months from their content material.

He mentioned his greatest buy since he grew to become well-known is an iPhone 12 so he can shoot higher movies. “I am not shopping for something loopy,” he mentioned.

However his life is a far cry from his days — solely 18 months in the past — as a jobless younger man residing together with his dad and mom. He says his mom and father are pleased with his success.

“It was sudden (for them) identical to for the remainder of the world. So that they acquired into the angle (of me being well-known) fairly late. And me too. You do not notice what’s taking place to you,” he mentioned. “They did not have any set thought of what they needed me to turn into after I was a baby — the necessary factor is that I used to be blissful, and had job.”

Lame now lives together with his agent in Milan. His posts get thumbs-ups from celebrities, together with his idol, actor Will Smith.

And as extra TikTok stars signal offers with film corporations, Lame hopes to perform a childhood dream and work with Smith on a undertaking.

In the meantime, he’ll proceed crushing ridiculous life hacks — together with his deadpan silence.

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