When Khabane “Khaby” Lame was laid off from his job as a factory worker in Italy in 2020, he had no idea his outlet for dealing with boredom would translate into him becoming the biggest TikTok star in the world.
But it has. And he’s bested everyone without uttering a single word in his videos.
The Senegalese-born and Italy-raised influencer and comedian boasts nearly 143 million fans on the platform. He surpassed former top TikTok star Charli D’Amelio on June 23.
Lame’s followers wasted no time celebrating his current TikTok GOAT status. “THE KING IS NUMBER 1 ON TIKTOK,” follower Collin Pryce commented under Lame’s latest video.
“All hail the king!!! #Excellence,” added Stefan Johnson. User @ismailxbosna commented, “most followed person now.”
In a March interview, Lame, 22, told Forbes he began creating TikTok videos in 2020 after being laid off from his job due to the pandemic. “The pandemic had just started, and I was bored with a lot of time on my hands so I started making videos on TikTok,” Lame said.
He became famous for his visual, non-verbal skits in which he incorporates facial expressions and his now-signature hand gesture when parodying the work of other influencers.
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Typically, Lame parodies videos that show people doing too much to solve a problem or get cool points. He then offers an obvious solution by showing a much simpler alternative.
Bringing people joy is something Lame said he’s always enjoyed.
“I would describe myself as a simple person, but full of ideas and inspiration. Making people laugh has always been my biggest passion in life,” Lame told Forbes. “I have big dreams and will not stop until I have reached them. What I’m doing now is also a dream coming true!”
He attributed his success on TikTok to the relatability of his videos, noting he works very hard to create content that resonates with people while trying not to offend anyone.
“Most of my inspiration comes from my everyday life. I surf the net, TikTok and other social platforms for ideas. But it’s not easy at all. Every day, I spend at least three hours looking for the right video to parody,” Lame said.
“I always try to be careful to not offend anyone with my videos, and I always prefer to joke with light-hearted parody,” Lame continued. “I think the reason that I am silent speaks louder – it is accessible to more people than if I would make my videos in English. I speak a universal language that everyone understands.”
D’Amelio’s reaction to losing her top spot to Lame was positive.
“I had No. 1 for two years. I feel like it’s time for someone else to have that spot, and I’m proud of him,” the 18-year-old said during a panel appearance at VidCon, Dexerto reported. “He’s a friend, and there’s no bad blood, I promise you guys.”
She added if she had to lose her spot to anyone, she’s glad it was Lame.
“It feels great to know that someone else is getting that spot, someone that is sweet and a good person and loves what they do. I think that that’s the best feeling, and I wouldn’t want to hand it over to anyone else,” D’Amelio said.
Lame, who describes his follower base as his “family,” hasn’t publicly commented on the milestone himself yet. He did note in a prior interview, however, that his meteoric rise to fame on TikTok is a dream come true and he has no plans of slowing down.
“I started doing this for fun and I never expected anything of this,” Lame said. “My background and journey give me the strength to believe in my dreams and to move forward, because with commitment and perseverance, they can come true.”