Anesti Danelis is a well-known musical comedian and content creator who is praised for his extraordinary skill at fusing comedy and song to enthrall audiences everywhere. Danelis has made a name for himself in the entertainment sector thanks to a number of popular live comedy performances and viral videos. In addition to appearances on CBC’s Winnipeg Comedy Festival, a worldwide broadcast comedy special on Nextup Comedy, and a devoted online following with over 500,000 followers and more than 200 million views, his comedic prowess has won praise. Be prepared to chuckle as Anesti Danelis brings his distinct style of comedy to the fore, entertaining audiences and leaving them eagerly anticipating what he has in store next.
Can you share with us how you got started in the world of comedy and TikTok?
It was all very random. One day I saw an advertisement for The Second City’s improv classes on a website and thought it might be fun to try. I didn’t know anything about improv, or comedy, at that point. I just wanted to do something fun during the week. I immediately got sucked into how fun and new and welcoming it was. One class turned into another class, then I started doing improv shows, then sketch shows, and eventually solo musical comedy.
TikTok happened to me during the pandemic. I always felt like I had a knack for video content but I was always too nervous to film and actually do it. When the world shut down, short-form video content was the only thing to do. So I learned how to produce music, film and edit, and I made a Quarantine comedy album during 2020, which ultimately gave me the skills to start TikTok a year later. I did it secretly. I didn’t follow friends or family and I wanted a separate space to just play around. Then a few videos in, I started making comedic songs out of ridiculous Yahoo Answers, and well, now we’re here.
How do you come up with your comedic material for both live performances and TikTok videos?
It’s really a mixed bag. Sometimes I’ll be moving through life and boom! A chord progression, an idea, lyrics, or even a full song just pops into my brain. Mostly it’s brainstorming and playing around. I’ll fire up the music software and play around with different sounds, or play around on the guitar/piano until something sparks. I also like to expand my world by listening to a variety of music, watching content, and seeing unique live shows. It really helps open up the mind to see what’s possible. The bigger the playground gets the more ideas can flood in.
As an award-winning comedian, what has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Definitely has to be my first year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where I was announced as a Top 8 Best Comedy Show at the festival. It was my very first solo show, and I was so nervous about bringing it to the world’s largest arts festival. I really didn’t know what to expect, and it was so nice to have been recognized for my comedy. A personal memorable moment was incorporating my grandparents into videos. I made a music video with my grandfather from random footage I took of us going to Burger King (ugh why can’t content creators relax). I sometimes play it at my live shows, and I tell my grandpa about it and he lights up. “They were laughing? They liked it?” the punchline at the end of the video is him saying “Nobody likes you” and now that’s how we say goodbye to each other. He taught me the violin growing up, which gave me the music knowledge to do what I’m doing today, so it’s been nice to incorporate him.
How do you handle the pressure of making people laugh consistently and meeting audience expectations?
Hmmm, I don’t know if I have a way of handling it. There will always be some sort of pressure, but experience helps a lot. The more videos you make and the more shows you do the more you realize that everything is out of your control, and the only thing you can control is having fun while doing the thing. Do the show, put the video out there, and then the rest is up to the world. Also, it’s about managing your expectations too. If I’m performing new material I need certain things to bomb so I know what needs to be re-written. If people find me hilarious 100% of the time, then I can’t grow.
Could you tell us about any challenges you faced on your journey to becoming a successful comedian and TikTok star?
The growing pains! All the bad shows! All the flopped videos! Honestly, I don’t know how I kept going after all that rejection. I guess I must be stubborn. I think the biggest challenge was balancing life and comedy. When you’re starting, comedy isn’t your career so you need to have a job to pay for you to be alive while you also work on your artistic endeavors. It’s like having two full-time jobs and the reward is no sleep. As a content creator it’s that same thing but also throwing making videos in the mix.
Can you share some insights into how you engage with your audience on TikTok and build a strong online presence?
I feel very lucky that there is a growing community around my work, so I like to take the time to read and respond to comments, get back at DM’s, watch all of the remakes of my videos when other creators use my sound, etc. We’re just one big friend group. I also like to take an interest in their lives and create opportunities where everyone can participate. On Instagram, I created a series called Sunday Confessionals where people can submit anonymous confessions, and they have been so wild. It’s nice to see how much fun everyone is having with that.
What strategies do you employ to stay relevant and keep up with the ever-changing trends in the comedy and social media landscape?
I try not to stress too much about it. I love pop culture and trends, and watching new and exciting things pop up, but at the end of the day, I don’t let it override what I do. I use them to grow and evolve my art. For example, I’m a big music nerd, so I like to keep up with what’s happening in the world of music. When I noticed that we were getting a resurgence of house music and disco and funk in mainstream music, I thought of it as a way to play around with new sounds. It’s less “I must do this because it’s hot right now” and more “What’s my version of that and how can I have fun with it?” Social media-wise, I research because it changes so much from month to month. It’s good to know what features an app or the algorithm is favouring because at the end of the day, we all just want our stuff to reach our audiences. So for example, I used to make 3-minute music videos on IGTV, but it wasn’t being noticed because the landscape had shifted to short-form TikTok videos, and when I started adapting to that is when I was finding more success in reaching audiences.
How do you navigate the balance between creating comedy that appeals to a wide audience and staying true to your own comedic style?
I just put out what I like, and what makes me laugh. If I’m having fun, then it’ll translate. I’m also observational in my style, in that I like to satirize the complexities of being human. I love poking fun at our hypocrisies, insecurities, pet peeves, intrusive thoughts, and situations that we all find ourselves in, so I think that naturally just speaks to a wide audience because people see themselves in there.
Have you faced any backlash or negative feedback in your career, and how have you dealt with it?
Oddly yes. I’ve been called a content thief for stealing my own content. It’s bizarre. I’ll make a video series like “Every Freelance Conversation” or “When You Really Listen to the Song Lyrics” and then other creators will hop onto the trend, sometimes using mine as a template and recreating it beat by beat (which is fine), or using my sound and applying it to their own niche (like the freelancer song), but then people who follow them will see mine and think I’m copying them. It’s funny and weird all at the same time. There’s no dealing with it really, but it’s been nice to see some of those content creators respond to comments to defend and credit me, so that’s been nice.
Can you share any upcoming projects or plans you have for the future?
Yes! I’m going on tour! Wooooooo! I’ll be touring my hit musical comedy concert This Show Will Change Your Life in Winnipeg from July 19-27, Edinburgh Fringe from August 2-27, and Vancouver from September 7-17. I’m also working on a musical comedy album of my viral songs, and a limited series podcast of my Sunday Confessionals for later this year.
How do you manage your time between live performances, creating TikTok content, and other aspects of your career?
Ooof I don’t know, but if you find out how can you please let me know? I’ve been fortunate to have comedy and content creation be my full-time job over the last couple of years, so at least it’s my only focus. I try my best to follow a schedule and also allow myself to not follow a schedule when I’m feeling a little burnt out. I’ve come to realize that I can’t do everything and that certain projects need more people. So for example hiring a producer for bigger live shows to handle everything while I work on the artistic aspects of my live show, helps so much and frees up soooooooo much time. It’s also weird because everything feeds into each other. So I’ve been fortunate enough to be a sought content creator for brands. I’ve been getting a lot of unique opportunities ever since I made my widely popular ad for Wealthsimple. The tricky thing is if I make ads I have less time to make content, but if I don’t make content then brands won’t find me. So it’s also balancing what I can say yes to, and not take on too much.
Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the right mindset before a comedy performance or creating TikTok videos?
No matter what, I like to start my day with a loaded-up chocolate oatmeal, and a frappe (It’s this shaken Greek coffee drink). It always puts me in a good mood if I have to do something big that day. And usually for a big comedy performance, like a full-length show, I like to put on a 10-minute headspace meditation and lay down on the floor to clear my mind. I don’t know how, but it works. Then I stretch it out and put on a fun song and dance to get the energy up. So if you come into the green room before a big show, be prepared to dance with me.
Can you share any funny or memorable anecdotes from your experiences as a comedian and TikTok star?
Oh, it’s all the time people mispronounce my name. The Anesti part they get, but it’s the Danelis that throw them off. I either get Daniels, Daniellis, or one time I got Denis. I always look forward to what remix I’ll get next.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about being a comedian and sharing your comedic talent with the world through TikTok?
What I enjoy most about being a comedian is being able to pursue fun for a living. I love that I can write and create work that is fulfilling for me, and that also brings joy to people. What I enjoy most about sharing my work through TikTok is being able to do all the cool things I can’t do on stage. I also like to see how much what I put out there resonates with people. It’s a fun reminder that we’re all more connected than we think.