Izzy Radford is a young writer and comedian, best known for her videos on Tik Tok, where she has accumulated over 40 thousand followers. I first found Izzy’s account at the end of 2020 and found her impressions to be spot on, from the NCS guy to the Facebook Mums. There is something quite unique about Izzy, as she does all these impressions, but her followers still do not know who the real 20-year-old girl is when the cameras are away.
I have been a huge fan of her work for a while now, and I feel so lucky that I got to meet with Izzy and find out more about her Tik Tok, career and experiences. She openly discussed the difficult times she faced before dropping out of uni and spoke authentically about her experiences. In this interview we also discussed Izzy’s production, The Making Of An Education, so click here to listen to the 15-minute piece. Izzy is hilarious, chatty and very genuine. A down-to-earth girl that we can all relate to in a sense with a million stories to share. I left the interview feeling the same way you feel when you have a good catch up with an old friend. Now, on to the interview!
For those who may not know what you do, could we start with a brief introduction of yourself?
“My name is Izzy, I’m on Tik Tok @izzyradcomedy and I’m 20, nearly 21 (which is devastating)! I live in Surrey and I’m a TV researcher. My Tik Tok videos normally consist of impressions, skits or comedy pieces. I never ever just do a normal video of me! I’ve been really surprised at how people have responded so positively! I hope to keep going and making more fun content.”
What pushed you to start making Tik Toks?
“I have always enjoyed writing and playing with comedy in different ways. I briefly tried YouTube as myself a few years ago but it didn’t really work at the time. After dipping my toes in the water, I’ve started to realise what I really want to do. I really wanted to pursue comedy and Tik Tok happened to be the perfect platform for me as it enabled me to make quick funny videos. There is no other platform that would allow me to get that many followers in such a short space of time. I’ve started branching out to longer videos on Instagram and I am really enjoying the control I have on my brand as a social media figure.
I first downloaded Tik Tok at the beginning of lockdown (like everyone else) and I did a few trending videos! I probably did some dances as well! I can’t really dance but I love to dance so much. It wasn’t until July/August time when I said to my friends ‘I can do this’ and really decided to try and make Tik Tok work for me. A lot of times in the last few years I have thought ‘I’ve just got to do it’ and I stopped caring for other people’s approval as all these mini ventures could be great steps for me. Luckily for me, my sixth video was my best video yet entitled ‘day one at uni’ which now has 1.8 million views. I didn’t get too many followers from it, but I did get a great response which was so nice to see.”
You mentioned there about your first viral video, how did that feel and what was the reaction like from your friends?
“The views were going up really quickly and it kept going up for days, it was crazy! The next video I posted didn’t go viral and that’s when I realised how random the algorithm is. I’ve done so many things in the last few years that when my friends saw I went viral, I feel like they kind of expected it in a way! Like something had to work! There’s not much that can shock them nowadays!”
We sometimes see your brother in your videos too. Tell us more about him and your family’s response to your Tik Toks?
“My Mum is a fan of Tik Tok, she has got an account but only follows me and one other girl! I have two brothers, my younger brother sometimes features in my videos. He’s so funny. We have a seven-year age gap so when he was growing up, we watched all the same shows and comedy so it has been really nice to have someone else to help me out. I trained him well!”
Your content is quite unique in the sense that your followers don’t get to see the real you. Was this a conscious decision?
“I try and stay away from content that has been overdone. It’s so hard with the amount of variation on Tik Tok but I try in my videos to say something or do something that people haven’t seen before.
I like how my viewers don’t know much about me, because that way, they don’t know if I am the person I’m impersonating! I did a video about ‘the girl who didn’t go to uni’ and people were commenting on the video without realising that I had dropped out from uni six weeks in! A lot of what comedy is is mocking others and taking the mick out of people so sometimes I worry that people think I’m not a nice person! I hope people get the impression that I’m nice!”
How do you come up with your content, what is the process behind making your videos?
“My notes currently consist of things such as ‘introducing the band’ and ‘Segway’ which are little cues for me but I don’t tend to write my video plans down because they always turn out much worse! None of them are scripted! Sometimes I do a few takes but in some of my videos, you can see my brain working away trying to think of what rhymes or works best which is funny for me to watch back.”
Tik Tok has been infamous at times for people ‘stealing’ ideas or sounds. Has anyone ever stole your idea and if so, how does this make you feel?
“I like the fact that I don’t see people copying me too much. It’s hard to say anyone copies anyone on Tik Tok as there is so much out there but there was one girl that stood out. I watched her video and it had taken the exact same lines from my video. I commented ‘is this me?’ She deleted the video, I did feel bad about that but I don’t care enough unless they have 10 million followers!”
Have you been recognised by any of your followers?
“I really never thought I’d be recognised but I have been which is crazy. One girl recognised me when I was buying a coffee – I found it really funny that someone had recognised me as I’m just a normal girl! I get comments a lot saying ‘I saw you at’ XYZ and that’s strange! I never know what to say when people say that. I would prefer if they just came up for a chat, I love meeting new people! I was also recognised in London by a couple of couples in their early 30s (maybe, I don’t want to guess their age)! It shocked me that they would’ve seen and enjoyed my content enough to recognise me! They were so sweet and kind. Due to the pandemic, we don’t go out much and where I live is a really small town so going into London, I do get a few more looks!”
Do you get many negative comments, and if so, how do you deal with it?
“I never really get any negative DMs. Sometimes I get comments accusing me of internalised misogyny or sexism but I just move on from that, what can I do? It’s like, what am I going to do an impression of? Air? I definitely am not sexist, I just think the app can be crazy but produce some great content too. My content isn’t girl-based, it’s just I am a girl doing the impression! Most of my negative comments are from boys! My top comments are always people comparing me to Ricky Gervais. I always get “is this Ricky Gervais’ daughter?” “is this David Brent’s sister?”- all the time! I don’t think I bear any resemblance physically, vocally etc but there you go. He isn’t a bad person to be compared to.
There are two videos that stand out to me for getting a bit of backlash! The first was a video about the gyms reopening joking that some boys would regain their personality, there were a few that were upset about that. I got a few boys saying “just because I am keeping healthy doesn’t mean that I don’t have a personality”. I was thinking, what? That was pretty minor. The other video was about a particular group of Christian Youtubers. I got a lot of backlash saying I was making Christians look weird but if they read the title, they’d know who I was referring to/ impersonating. I feel like some people on the app are really reaching to get anyone in trouble. Those are the only two I can think of. A lot of my comedy is based on stereotypes, but I drive a Fiat 500 and I’m not ashamed, I own it. It’s healthy to laugh at yourself.”
Linking closely with that, what is your opinion on cancel culture?
“Realistically, I don’t think you can cancel anyone, I don’t know anyone who has been cancelled. Some people don’t deserve a following after doing horrific things, but you can’t implement it. Everyone shouts about cancelling people but if it’s a minor thing, I don’t feel it’s necessary. When you put down your phone and talk to someone who didn’t grow up with social media, you realise that it’s such a new thing, and it doesn’t really do much. The cancelled person still walks around living their life. I think cancel culture is awful and stupid, we are so young, we don’t know anything about life nor the influencers! There is no point trying to kill people off of platforms. I think some of my followers like me because they think I the type of person that would call someone a snowflake or think ‘you can’t say anything anymore’ but I’m not like that. Our generation is progressive and has a new perspective, but in terms of Tik Tok, I think it goes too far sometimes. Some people are just looking for a fight.”
What Tik Tokker’s do you look up to or particularly enjoy at the moment?
“I really enjoy the Tik Tokkers such as Stupidgayslut and Jackshepbaby, you definitely would’ve seen some of their videos on your FYP. They do similar content to me in terms of comedy but it’s a bit more smart than mine! I’ve also spoken with some lovely girls on the app like Mazza.h but at the moment I’ve loved watching Smeggyb! She is so funny, she is so true to herself but hysterical. I also follow a nun account called DaughtersofStPaul, which’s iconic. I love it. Also, Nosebleedfitz, I love her! I recently came across Victoriaparisf. I have just discovered her and she got a million followers in just a few months from posting like 30 videos a day, just putting herself out there. Her account is just a stream of her life and I think it represents a new age in social media. I find it fascinating, I could never put that much of my life online like that but I really admire her approach.”
So, now we have covered a lot of Tik Tok, I wanted to find out more about your university experience that you have spoken about quite openly with your audio production, The Making Of An Education?
“I went to quite an academic school, and I didn’t know anyone who didn’t go to university. I went to the University of Exeter and did Philosophy and Theology. I didn’t care for it too much, to be honest, but it wasn’t the course. Everyone loves to tell me ‘it was the course’ but I don’t mind admitting that I hated the experience. I was dreading going to uni. I did meet two lovely girls who I am still really good friends with but apart from that, I hated it. I remember telling my friend after 1 day at university that I needed to go, she was like… you’ve been here for 24 hours. I dropped out after six weeks and thought I’ll make it work another way. I was committed when I dropped out to make it work. I could’ve gone back the next year but I was quite proud, I wanted to do it my way. It did stunt me in some ways but in the same way, it has been the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
There were so many pros and cons, but I firmly stand by the idea that you can never be wrong if you chose to do something. Even if a few months later it wasn’t the right thing, it was the right thing then. I would never change anything I did. In this time, I wrote The Making of An Education which was made in 2019 and published in 2020. The piece displayed how I felt at this time and since, my writing has changed so much! It just encapsulated how I felt about dropping out of uni and it takes me through so many emotions that I felt in this time. I think it is really important, to be honest, I have no shame in admitting I had a horrific time, but also, it has been amazing. The whole experience taught me to be honest and self-aware. Just be yourself. I’m sure in another time at another place, I could have really enjoyed university, but my life had different plans.
There were so many times when I dropped out where I’d see people at university looking like they were having the time of their life. I had to remember that social media is just that. I can make my pages make me look like I am having the best time during a really difficult time. I try and treat my pages as my brand, rather than something too personal. Social media should be treated for what it is, and remember that without it, you still have a life.”
Tell me more about producing your piece, The Making Of An Education?
“After dropping out of uni and writing The Making of an Education, aged 18, I applied for the New Creatives scheme with BBC Arts which is a scheme that aims to help young people get into the audio and film world. I had no experience in audio production before, but I am a big believer in self-educating. I got rejected the first time as I misunderstood the brief, but this didn’t stop me from trying again. The second time, I was accepted! I had a producer and would go up to London, record the piece and edit it. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the piece to be and sound. It was quite a long process but it was fantastic and I felt really lucky to be on the scheme, as young people have barely any opportunities to get into the creative/arts industry. I felt it was a special experience as I managed to voice and produce a piece that was so personal to me. I would constantly be asking questions to the producers as I was so intrigued to learn more. No one cares if you ask a ‘stupid’ question, people actually want to be asked about stuff that they’re an expert on. I would recommend the program to anyone interested!”
In the piece, you spoke about being considered as ‘wasted potential’. Can you tell me how it felt when you dropped out of uni?
“I was conditioned to believe that I was wasted potential because I left university. There was a time when I first dropped out when I was working in retail when I wasn’t getting the most amazing opportunities and I often felt people perceived me as someone who was falling apart. In reality, I was just growing up and being young! This all taught me to find my own way, choosing a path that best suited me. I think in this time, I would’ve really benefitted from some guidance so I am always happy to talk to people who had a similar experience to me. The grass is always greener on the other side so you have to become comfortable with your decisions as they were right for you at that time.”
If you could go back and tell your university self anything, what would you tell her?
“I am so glad I went despite hating it. I would’ve told myself to just crack on doing you. Trust the journey because the place where I am at now, is all thanks to the journey. It all becomes good in the end. Trust yourself. I am extremely self-aware, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a comedian or writer, so I wish I could tell my university self, you know who you are, so keep doing you.”
Besides Tik Tok, you are a TV researcher now. How did you get into the TV industry?
“It was difficult getting into the TV industry. I worked odd jobs for a long time, in retail, cafes, I was even a Christmas elf at one point. In 2019, I joined a scheme called The Network which helps young people get into the industry without any experience. I liked the idea of working in TV as it is really creative and also allowed me to work on my writing too, which is my main thing. I got into the scheme and it changed everything for me. I got my first job from there in TV as a development assistant which I did for about a year. I also did some scriptwriting and now I have managed to worm my way into a researcher role! My ultimate goal is to write a TV show so I am working towards making this a reality one day!
The TV industry is totally about who you know, rather than what you know, and making good impressions on people. That’s why I feel so grateful for the scheme, as it allowed me to make a start which from there, I can grow and get more contacts! I used the fact that I dropped out of uni as my USP for a while, displaying what I achieved in that time, spinning what many would’ve deemed as a negative, into a huge positive.”
Have you found starting your Tik Tok has supported your career or opened any doors?
“Having my Tik Tok as a portfolio of me is a great advantage to using the platform, and the recognition I get is always nice although I don’t necessarily want to be known as the girl from Tik Tok. Gaining a following on the platform has led people to some of my other work such as my poems and The Making of an Education which is really lovely. A lot of my followers are really surprised to hear that I write poems, as many think you can’t be sincere and funny which I don’t really understand! Many of my followers will go to my Instagram hoping to watch my reels but will end up seeing some of my other work which is really cool.”
I saw that you have recently started posting short videos on your Instagram called Desk Diaries. What was the idea behind these videos?
“I started my Desk Diaries series because I wanted to make slightly longer videos. I was inspired by a podcast called We Can’t Talk About That Right Now which I am absolutely obsessed with. So I decided to start with little five minute segments on my Instagram just talking about all different things. I never ask people to follow me, if you choose to follow me and you like it, you like it! If not, you can unfollow! I just want to try it out because I enjoy it. I’m adding a little bit more of my personality to my Instagram and might upload them to YouTube also! My friend actually suggested that I did Desk Diaries, and I made it like a five minute Youtube/Podcast hybrid vibe.”
And finally, what’s next for you?
“It is hard to tell what is next for me… I recently got into the National Youth Theatre which is like an acting summer school for a few weeks. It was such a last-minute decision for me but I really want to develop more as a writer and performer. So that will be happening this summer (Corona permitted). I am hoping to stay in my researcher role for as long as I can and writing-wise, I hope that I will be seen or heard by someone who will help open some doors for me. I am always writing and have also recently been working on a new audio piece which I absolutely love. I just want to keep enjoying my journey.”