'It's great to be able to make people laugh at the moment' - Behind the scenes with Irish TikTok comedian Séamus Lehane

Séamus Lehane

Eoghan Moloney

If you had told Séamus Lehane this time last year videos he created would have millions of views, gained him tens of thousands of followers and the attention of national media outlets, he “simply wouldn’t have believed you”.

The 29-year-old Primary School teacher from Cappagh, Co Limerick has achieved just this, though, for his TikTok comedy sketches.

Séamus has gained plenty of attention, even from within the walls of Leinster House, for his videos and they have proved just the tonic to lift spirits during these tough times.

The Limerick native’s comedy sketches involve impersonations of high-profile politicians and celebrities, with Simon Harris and Tommy Tiernan among those to share his work on their own social media.

Seamboyseam, as he goes by on TikTok, reached a nationwide audience again recently for his impersonation of Joe Duffy and Tommy Tiernan interviewing ‘Harry and Meghan’ in the wake of their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

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He said he had never taken his comedic talent too seriously and couldn’t get over their reaction.

“I wasn't making videos seriously, but I sometimes did sketches to make my friends laugh. It had almost been an ambition of mine [to start making videos]. At the start of 2020 I said I would begin and I saw TikTok and that a lot of people were making comedy videos on it so I thought it was a good opportunity.

“I saw that a lot of people had started with no follower base and thought that it would suit me. So, I uploaded a few videos and it took off from there”.

Séamus said he didn’t upload his first clip until during the first lockdown “as a good release” and he was happy to see so many enjoy his clips.

Less than a year later, he has received over 2.1m likes on TikTok.

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It was a hilarious impression of the then Health Minister Simon Harris that first saw Séamus’ follower base grow, and he confirmed the subject of the sketch helped the process.

“I had literally zero followers and I did this impression of Simon Harris and it went viral. I think it ended up getting 750,000 views. I obviously wasn’t expecting that when I uploaded it and someone sent it to Simon Harris and he retweeted it. This was at the start of the pandemic when everyone was completely preoccupied with Covid so it was crazy to see the then Minister of Health sharing me on his Twitter in the middle of all that,” Séamus laughed.

Tommy Tiernan and Roz Purcell are two other celebrities to have shared Séamus’ work on social media.

Séamus said he comes up with his ideas randomly but will try and be topical if there is something big in the news and then the real work begins.

“I write the sketch, then I record it all and of course there are usually different characters so I try to record each character's lines together.

“I then edit it on my computer before it is uploaded, and it can be a lot of effort, especially when you are dressed up as different characters and stuff - it could take a good few hours and a lot of effort. It takes a fair bit of time but I think it is worth it. It's great to be able to make people laugh at the moment,” Séamus said of his methods.

It has not just been celebrities noticing Séamus’ talents as he has recently been shooting videos for TG4 and confirmed he has a sketch planned for RTÉ’s virtual St Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday after they approached him to get involved.

“All these things are only starting to happen in the last few weeks, and it is really exciting when you have well known broadcasters reaching out to you.

“I wasn’t really expecting any of this. It’s cool when big names and brands are contacting you as when I make these videos I don’t think any of that stuff, I just make them for myself,” Séamus said.

While the performing arts industry is among the worst hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Séamus said he would love to expand his reach and maybe go down the road of live performances when normality resumes.

He said he hasn’t been paid for any of the videos he releases on TikTok but confirmed that taking comedy more seriously “is definitely an aspiration”.

He said good opportunities are starting to present themselves due to his online presence.

“It would be great to make a career out of it as I really enjoy doing it but I also appreciate that I am at the very start and I’m figuring out what works for me. It’s hard to plan towards live events when there are none going ahead and while it is an ambition, I’m not getting ahead of myself,” Séamus said.