Meet Keats: A New Face in the Latest Generation of TikTok Superstars
Through dance challenges and other creative trends, TikTok users have produced an array of wholesome quarantine content over the past three months. But there have been a few viral comedic sketches by one TikToker who has fast-tracked his growth through creative, entertaining and sometimes bilingual pieces.
Kevin Jackman, also known as Keats Did It or plainly Keats, amassed over one million TikTok followers in under a year by creating one-minute sketches in his Atlanta home. The 26-year-old’s most known sketches include the “If Planets had a Meeting” series, “If Girl Scout Cookies had a Meeting” and “Streaming Platforms During Quarantine.”
Calling from Zoom in his bedroom, the New York native talked about his road to one million followers and how his social stardom translates into reality in part one of a two-part series.
The quotes expressed in this article have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Describe your journey to one million followers on TikTok
I didn’t take TikTok seriously until my current management talked me into downloading the app in November 2019. With all my talents, they thought I could do all the dance challenges and trends with ease. Once I downloaded TikTok, I just consumed everything. It was trial and error at first. I figured out what worked, what didn’t, what was going viral, what was not, what was the cool stuff to do and what was wack. I got the hang of it pretty quickly.
This one TikTok of me lip syncing got 100,000 views and it was only my third day out here. I went from zero to 5,000 to 13,000 followers.
Then, stuff was going really bad. I had two tickets, had to pay a ton of money, Mercury was in retrograde and I was in the shower thinking “Why is Mercury such a b****? It’s always about Mercury. Jupiter’s never trippin’, Saturn’s cool.” And I’m thinking “If planets were actually people, what would they do?”
I started giving [the planets] characters and saying “I can do all these characters and make them have a meeting.” When I edited the video that night, I was like “This is going to be pretty funny. It’ll be cool if it gets 100,000 views.”
In a night, it had a million - increasing my followers to 100,000.
People wanted part two and [the series] kept growing. It went crazy on Twitter and ever since then everyone was like “We like it when you talk to yourself.” I’m the CEO of talking to myself, so I made more and got better. If you watch the first video and see the edits and acting from the last one, it’s gotten a lot smoother.
What is your creative process for creating skits?
It starts with a gut laugh or a funny thought. For instance, catching myself saying “Why is Mercury such a b****” was a funny thought. What if Mercury actually was a b****?
Creating skits is like a rubber band ball. The first idea may not hit, the rubber band falls off but you have to keep building. Then, once there is a little bit more structure and footing, you keep adding, adding and adding. Finally, you polish it off and it becomes something.
A lot of it is just sitting down, letting your mind go and writing what sticks. I write the characters down, define who would be in this fictional world and think about their responses. The hardest part is making the storyline fall within a minute. Eventually, I write all my scripts inside a book, give a second proofread and finally set up the lights, put the clothes on and go to work.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since gaining popularity online?
You have to be careful with what you say. People are clinging to your every word and have a certain expectation of you. You don’t have the privilege to be stupid anymore. There are people who would love to be the reason for your demise or be the one who caught you slipping.
Everything can be misinterpreted, taken out of context or spun the wrong way so you have to take notice in all you create. Before I put something out, I ask myself “Is this 100 percent coming from a wholehearted place? Am I making a joke at someone else’s expense?”
How has the social media fame translated into reality?
Despite being in a pandemic, I have been recognized three or four times at the gas station or Walmart. I’m in situations where my coworkers’ kids know me. One of my coworker’s mom slid in my DMs. I’m going viral in group chats, Facebook, everywhere.
People and companies are also sending me stuff and investing in me. I’ve received a satin hooded sweatshirt, hair oil, skin care products and a bunch of other things. I’m getting sponsored by certain companies so there is really a ton of support.
When did you know you were funny?
I was a class clown in high school but I didn’t think I was THAT funny. Now, I’m revered to the likes of Desi, Druski and RDCWorld. Until now, I thought my music was going to take me places, but it’s been more of “You’re funny bro. You should make funny videos.” Hearing that, I’ve just been taking charge because I have so many ideas and know how to execute from editing my music videos and podcast episodes. I just learned how to use all the tools and softwares because I hate waiting on people.
What editing softwares do you use and how long does a video normally take?
I use Adobe Premiere. It takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to edit. What’s really time-consuming is all the wardrobe changes and the commitment to making sure there is consistency in all the characters - especially their hair.
For the pirates video, I needed to make a part two but also had to take out my hair for a photoshoot.
So I said “While I have the braids in, let me write part two, film it and when I have my afro back, I’ll film the rest with the other characters.” I’m having to think ahead for a lot of my videos.
Who does your braids and how do you determine what color beads to wear?
Tacara does my hair and does great work across the board.
After my hair is braided, I go to the beauty supply store and stand in front of the beads section for about 10 minutes and decide on the color. I can’t keep repeating beads so I definitely need to find an exclusive bead website. I didn't even know I was bringing the beads back! The afro is very cute and fluffy but the braids are hot. It’s fire.
My hair has a lot to do with how I make my music and the sex appeal that comes with it. The braids are my alter rap ego. Kind of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type thing.
Can you speak fluent Japanese and Spanish?
I don’t speak fluent Japanese or Spanish. I chalk it up to my acting and impersonation ability. I use Google Translate for Japanese along with the accent I’ve learned from my love for anime. For Spanish, I have a friend who I ask to translate. I know how to do a pretty good Spanish accent from having so many Hispanic friends.
What are your top five anime series?
In no particular order, “DragonBall Z”, “Yu Yu Hakusho,” “Samurai Champloo,” “Attack on Titan” and “Hunter x Hunter”
You tweeted, “When you start to blow up it feels like you in a graduating class with other people on the Internet making moves too. I love my classmates.” Who are your classmates?
That tweet was inspired by @challxn. She’s really funny on TikTok and goes viral on Twitter. There’s also @cookieekawaii who made “Vibe.” Mark Phillips, who is already in the game, reached out to me. He was super cool and inspiring. I just share a certain connection with whoever is going viral at the same time as me.
What can we expect from you for the remainder of 2020?
Since June 5, I’ve started an 11-week merchandise campaign. Each character from the “If Planets had a Meeting” series has their own design which drops every Friday. I’m selling out almost immediately and have six more weeks to go. After I finish with the campaign, I’m going to be more focused on my music.