My Top 10 People You Must Follow on Vine

Since its launch in January 2013, Vine has soared to the top of the iPhone app charts. It now boasts well over 13 million users worldwide, and with a recent release on Android, Vine looks set to become even more popular.
At its core, Vine is a mobile app that enables the user to create and share six second video clips. It follows a wave of apps centred around confined communication, from Twitter (who bought Vine in 2012) and its 140 character limitation, to Snapchat, where the user has 1-10 seconds to view a post before its deletion. But where the former comprises mainly Facebook friends sending pictures of their genitals to one another, Vine is home to a genuine community, where people are stretching the confines of the six seconds to produce and project all sorts of wonderful things. Comedy, music, animation, journalism; there’s a Vine for everyone.

So, after hours and hours of deliberation and sleepless nights, I’ve whittled down my favourite Vine performers (or Velebrities) for your delectation. From Jerome Jarre, a quirky, smiling Frenchman in New York City, known for embarrassing strangers with his infectious love for life, to Limmy, a Scottish comedian and creator of Limmy’s Show!, whose lateral take on life in Glesga’ makes him one of my favourite users on the app.

In no particular order:

1. Nicholas Megalis – With over 2 million followers, Nicholas Megalis is the most followed person on Vine, and it’s easy to see why. A talented musician in his own right, the moustache bearing funny man from Cleveland is famed for his witty 6 second raps, as well as several other comic creations, including a talking fire hydrant, a singing caterpillar, and a jar of peanut butter with a hipster persona.

2. Meagan Cignoli – A fashion and portrait photographer from New York City, Meagan takes Vine video making to another level. By using techniques such as stop start animation and time lapse, she offers her followers a beautiful six second snapshot into her life.

3. KingBach – An actor/writer/producer based in Los Angeles, KingBach remains one of the most popular Vine performers with his unique brand of slapstick, energetic, observational comedy.

4. Brandon Calvillo – With comic timing beyond his years, Brandon Calvillo has garnered a loyal Vine following with his idiosyncratic style. I particularly enjoy his series of videos starring a psychopathic version of Walter from The Muppets. You will never be able to watch The Muppets film in the same light again.

5. Vincent Marcus – A talented impressionist, Vincent has wowed Vine audiences with his impersonations of various famous voices, from The Simpsons and Family Guy characters, to Russell Brand and Michael Caine.

6. Limmy – Known for his dark, surreal and whimsical style, Scottish comedian Brian Limond, creator, producer and star of BAFTA award winning TV series Limmy’s Show!, has turned to Vine to air his latest comedy masterpieces. You never really know what you’re going to get with Limmy; you just know whatever it is, it’s going to make you laugh for all the right, and all the wrong reasons.

7. Jerome Jarre – Whether he’s approaching a pregnant lady and claiming to be the father, scaring the crap out of an unsuspecting sunbather by whispering “I love you” in his ear, or shouting “WOOHOO!” on a crowded train and filming the bemused reactions of those around him, the happy, smiling French entrepreneur living in New York City is a Vine maker you just have to follow.

8. Philip Larkin – It was through Limmy that I discovered Philip Larkin, an Irish TV/Comedy writer with a knack for making hilarious Vines.  Ever wondered what the Queen does to relax on a Sunday? Was it really Tommy’s milk that splattered all over The Rugrats logo on the opening credits? You’ll find your answers here.

9. Bo Burnham – Having conquered YouTube with his hilariously catchy songs, Bo has since forged a successful career in comedy, fusing his musical talents with a self deprecating and politically incorrect style of delivery. His Vine clips are very much of the same ilk, featuring a constipated Luke Skywalker, a card trick that can change your race, and the pitfalls of having Jesus as a flatmate.

10. KC James – Based in Los Angeles, and with over 1.5 millions followers, KC James is one of the most consistently funny and popular contributors on Vine. Often playing the part of the idiot, most notably in his series of “Saturday Night Loner Dance” videos, KC’s ridiculous antics never fail to win me over.

So there we have it. My top ten people to follow on Vine. You may have noticed that my list mainly comprises of comedy performers; this is just a personal preference. With the ability to chop and edit scenes, and the fact you only have to wait 6 seconds for the punchline, I think Vine lends itself well to comedy. But as I mentioned earlier, there’s a Vine for everyone. If you haven’t downloaded Vine already, I can’t recommend it enough. Lets see what magic you can make in 6 seconds.

If you have suggestions on who else people should follow on Vine, leave your comments and suggestions below. And whilst I’ve got your attention, why not check out one of my Vine posts as well.


Do smokers have a social advantage?

Worldwide smoking bans in public places have made the 21st century an increasingly difficult and marginalised time to be a smoker. And for the non-smokers around, me included, the ruling makes life a hell of a lot easier. Opening the doors to your local boozer no longer means having to saunter through the sort of smoke clouds you had only seen on a Stars In Your Eyes stage entrance. Nowadays, whether you’re at work, at a restaurant, or out clubbing, you have to brave the elements if you want your nicotine fix. And if you’re in England, 99.9% of the time the weather is a drab and dreary concoction of cloud and drizzle, adding a touch of melancholy to the already depressing sight of people huddled together smoking outdoors.
However, something happened to me this year which gave me a totally different perspective on the matter. And in order to look back on it, we have to rewind to March, when I was solo backpacking the East Coast of Australia.


Smoking – a social advantage?

There I was. My cheek squashed against the Greyhound bus window. The dry, exhausted Australian landscape providing the backdrop. An overweight man in his late 40s was sat next to me, his snores reaching the decibel levels of a pneumatic drill. I was travelling by myself and, if I’m being honest, I desperately wanted some friends. Some company. Anything.

We approached a service station somewhere in between Sydney and Byron Bay. The driver pulled over and got on the mic,

“Guys, just a quick toilet break for those who need it. Make sure you’re all back on the bus in ten minutes time”.

Within seconds of the announcement, half of the bus had made their way to the exit.
“Crikey, I didn’t realise I was in the presence of people with such weak bladders”, I thought. I had to double check that I hadn’t booked myself onto a Saga tour of the Australian East Coast instead. Upon further inspection it was apparent that this wasn’t the case. These people rushing to the front of the bus weren’t about to soil themselves. Nor were they a bunch of septuagenarians either. These people were smokers.

For the next ten minutes I stayed put. My cheek still pressed against the window. The chap next to me was now breathing so heavily, he could only be nearing the end of some sort of rampant sex dream. Yet this time round, the view from my window was a group of twenty-something travellers, puffing on cigarettes and conversing like long lost friends. Forming friendships and making plans for that night, I presumed, whilst gradually realising just how much each other had in common, in between each inhalation and exhalation.

I don’t like cigarettes, I’m asthmatic, and therefore not the best at passive smoking. So for me to hop off the bus, wade through the cloud of tobacco smoke and join in with the conversation was completely out of the question. But at that moment in time, I wanted to be out there with them. I wanted the sociability of a smoker, and it posed me the question.

Do smokers have a social advantage?

Smoking Left Out

I want to join in the with the conversation, but I’m not a smoker.

One thing that smokers have is the ability to spark up conversation with complete strangers, and it being entirely socially acceptable. The words, “got a light?” create the platform and lay the foundations for conversation. You smoke the cigarettes together, and an immediate bond is formed.

When I’m walking my dogs, I experience something similar. Approaching and talking to a stranger in the park would ordinarily seem a little weird. Yet when I’m armed with my Border Terrier and my Cockapoo, and the stranger in question also has a dog in tow, talking isn’t a problem. Smoking is exactly the same. And since we’re living in a time where we’re increasingly turning to our smart phones and laptops to converse with one another, smokers have the benefit of having a shared activity that allows them to talk to strangers in person.

Another advantage is that smoking tends to be conducted in groups. I mean, I wouldn’t be writing this piece now if only one person had stepped off the coach in Australia, dejectedly lighting a cigarette and puffing away on their lonesome for those remaining ten minutes. It was the gathering of several people that had me envious for a slice of their social interaction.

Perhaps the Government’s efforts to curb smoking in public places has brought smokers closer together. Stripping them of the chance to both smoke and interact with non-smokers at the same time, smokers can now only converse with one another. I feel this especially at work. I’ve been sat there, the sound of a pin drop enough to make me jump out of my skin for the lack of atmosphere, whilst the people with their cigarettes would be outside, chatting, venting and gossiping with one another. There’s also that painful period of solitariness, filled with pretend texting and awkward stretching, when your friends decide to leave the bar or nightclub to go outside for a smoke. They are mingling with a party of people, and I’m inside on my own, having to shuffle incompetently to the latest David Guetta tune.

In a related article from the Montreal Gazette, focussing on the social side of smoking, one of the subjects, when questioned as to whether the efforts to eliminate smoking had an effect on smokers, responded,
“There’s a group spirit…There are things you would say to another smoker that you would never say to anyone else”. This hints that the sense of disconnection from society felt as a result of the smoking ban has in someways strengthened the connection between smokers. This is reminiscent of the time my primary school banned Pokémon cards after the head teacher believed them a distraction from work. All that happened was that the dedicated Pokémon card collectors amongst us took to covert strategies in order to build up our Pokémon card empire.

According to a 25 year study into smoking carried out by Jim Sherman, a Professor of Social Psychology at Indiana University, smokers are more sociable than non-smokers, and this can be seen as early as school.
“They generally date earlier, and they’re often popular. The cool kids in school were smokers, and they were dating…They tend to be more socially precocious, extroverted and risk taking than non-smokers”. Whether or not this is true is up for debate. But as a non-smoker throughout school, spending most of my time reading TinTin and ‘fiddling’ with my Playstation controller, I certainly didn’t ooze with social prowess.


So, are there really any social advantages to smoking after all?

The negatives of smoking are so well established, it would have been pointless to write a blog entry on the reasons why smoking cigarettes is bad for you. I thought it would be interesting to explore an antithetical viewpoint, following that feeling of envy I had on the Greyhound bus. I tell myself all the time that smoking is bad for you, but I still can’t shake off the disadvantages I feel from being a non-smoker. Having something so conversable as a cigarette gives smokers a social leg up.

I must add though, it is only when I’m on my own that I feel envy for smokers. When I was backpacking, I was alone, far from home, and thus had a greater desire and need to belong and be part of a group. In the staff room at work, or the nightclub, when my peers leave me to smoke, it’s the vulnerability and loneliness that prompts the desire for communication.

Smokers probably think the world is against them, and to an extent it probably is, and rightly so, but this post shows that there are social advantages to smoking, coming from the perspective of a non-smoker.

Hopefully in years to come, smoking levels will decrease, and there will be someone like me on a Greyhound bus – maybe one of the latest ‘hover’ buses – on the East Coast of Australia.

The driver will then pull over and get on the mic,

“Guys, just a quick talking break for those who might be feeling lonely, or for those who just want to chat. Go out there and make some friends. See you in ten minutes time”.