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Jake Shane is making history funny — and he’s going viral for it

The TikTok comedian imagines how famous scenarios, like the Titanic or Prohibition, would play out in 2023.
Jake Shane in one of his TikTok videos.
Jake Shane in one of his TikTok videos.

It’s anyone’s guess how the senators who conspired to kill Caesar would have done their scheming in the year 2023, but burgeoning TikTok Star Jake Shane has a kicker of a theory.

Known best on the platform by his handle @octopusslover8, the content creator has amassed a devoted following in recent weeks for taking on the anecdotes that have shaped human history and reimagining them through a Gen Z lens.

As of today, his account has 4.9 billion views and 1.3 million followers, up from 60 thousand a few weeks ago.

Using prompts provided by followers, such as Marie Antoinette getting canceled, a Founding Father’s reaction to John Hancock’s large signature on the Declaration of Independence, the TikToker rethinks history, one front-facing video at a time.

In one 17-second video, Shane pretends to be Mona Lisa sitting for a portrait – taken on an iPhone.

“Did we get it?” Shane, as Mona Lisa, asks, taking a modern-day coffee cup and bustling towards a door. “Text me. The unedited ones, I’ll approve and then you can edit.”  

Other impressions include Newton’s discovery of gravity, the fateful ride of Paul Revere, the execution of Joan of Arc, Pangea breaking up and the U.S.'s "card declining for the Louisiana Purchase." Recently, Shane likened buying tickets to board the Titanic to the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster disaster and videoed himself crouched before a laptop while having a meltdown with a friend on speakerphone. 

“I’m actually about to start crying! I’m actually about to start crying!” he yells. “They knew how many people wanted to get on this boat. They should be able to handle the amount of people wanting to get tickets for it. Period.”  

Shane's ascent to TikTok stardom started as a game

Shane's ascent began on Feb. 20, when he shared a TikTok to celebrate reaching 60,000 followers on the app.  

“Can we play my favorite game, please?” Shane said. “Comment your favorite line or situation you want me to act out.”  

Shane’s first video was in response a request that he “act out Bill Clinton denying his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.” 

With the sass and snark that his generation has become known for on TikTok, Shane gave a one-person performance of Clinton being caught red-handed in the sex scandal that led to his 1998 impeachment.

The video garnered 1.7 million views and more than 200,000 likes — and started a new format. Since his original video asking for requests, he’s posted dozens of reenactments, and his "like" count on the platform has ballooned to 36.7 million.

His account’s popularity has grown to the point that he now receives brand requests.

Recently, The History Channel asked Shane to make a reaction video of reactions to Prohibition in the United States.  

“What? On their Instagram story?” Shane asks about the news while speaking into an empty phone case to hold his pretend conversation. “No, Jackson, I don’t think it’s real because they put it on their story. If this was real, there would’ve been a whole post dedicated to it.” Upon realizing the sale and consumption of alcohol is, indeed, banned, he proceeds to spiral: "How is this legal? This isn't legal!"

 Even TODAY is in on the fun. 

“Now do Fergie’s manager when they saw her do a cartwheel on live TV at 8 AM,” @todayshow commented, referencing the singer’s 2008 performance of "Barracuda" on the plaza. 

Why are his videos such a phenomenon?  

Like anything that becomes popular online, it’s hard to put into words. It’s one of those things that you have to see to understand. 

At the crux of Shane’s appeal is his ability to juxtapose Gen Z’s mannerisms with the gravity of history.

Lizzy Gulino, a senior writer at Refinery29 and @octopusslover8 super fan, tells TODAY that she came across Shane’s reenactments on her “For You" page. She regularly chimes into his comments section with requests for his take on the Wright Brothers explaining how a plane works and the first person to eat an egg.  

“I actually laugh out loud when I see his videos,” she says. “And I feel like I don’t do that too often.” 

As someone who follows trends and online culture for a living, Gulino says she thinks Shane’s videos have become so popular because of his content's universality: Everyone is familiar with the moments he’s portraying.   

“I think the kind of comedy that Jake does is something that all ages can connect with and understand,” Gulino said. “We all know that John Hancock’s signature was the biggest on the Declaration of Independence. It’s easy to connect across ages and demographics with that kind of comedy, so I think it’s super accessible for people.” 

We’re all in on the joke — and no one tells it like Jake Shane.