Comedian Elyse Myers on navigating viral fame and using TikTok to normalise mental health conversations

Comedian Elyse Myers on navigating viral fame and using TikTok to normalise mental health conversations
Woman's bizarre Taco Bell tale goes viral

TikTok was a welcomed distraction at the height of the Covid pandemic, as people channelled their lockdown woes into producing creative content - just like Elyse Myers who decided one day to share her story from a decade ago about her "worst date ever".

Little did the 28-year-old know, her comedic storytelling about how her date duped her into buying 100 tacos for him and the feeling she was "going to be killed" would capture the attention of millions and enable her to build an online community of 4.7m followers along with a budding career as a comedian and digital content creator.

"I found myself being so intrigued by the idea of creating content, I thought that it was such a cool expression of creativity," Myers told indy100.

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So the mum-of-one from Omaha, Nebraska decided to get up "really early in the morning" before her family was awake to create videos and while she was "growing pretty steadily" on the platform, it was the taco video posted in October last year which propelled Myers to internet stardom that would ultimately change her life.

"When that video hit, it felt like all of a sudden the world was like staring at me in my own house," Myers admitted.


I haven’t been to a @tacobell since. #coffeetalk #theadhdway #firstdatefail #tacobell

"And so it took a little bit of time to catch up, but I think I realised from that video forward, this is different. Now I have to choose between my full-time job as a web developer or if I want to really pursue this new space online."

While 22.8m viewers were both equally shocked and entertained by Myers' account, she's actually been telling this story years before her TikTok prominence.

"So I think I'd become desensitised to how ridiculous it actually was because I told it at parties so many times my husband used to laugh at it."

But astoundingly we almost missed out on hearing the story for ourselves as Myers revealed: "I wasn't actually even going to tell it [on TikTok] because I didn't think that it was an interesting story enough to tell."

It was her husband Jonas (shout out to him) who encouraged her to tell the taco story the night before she posted it.

"So I posted it and was like, 'Well, we'll see how it goes. I don't think anyone's gonna watch it but we'll see,' and sure enough, millions and millions of people have seen it and have commented and reacted. So it's really funny to me."

"I think that's why people see themselves in my story so much is that I am talking about things nobody even thought to vocalise," she added.

On the subject of crafting her storytelling talent, Myers told indy100: "I've always been a storyteller just naturally my whole life," and explained how she always thought it was a way she processed her feelings.

"But then when I realised people actually wanted to listen to the stories, whatever I was telling just because of the way I told the story, I really hadn't heard anyone call that out in my life before TikTok."

While her taco story was "wild", Myers' vivid storytelling is a regular occurrence in her videos as she talks about the "really awkward and uncomfortable moments" in her own life in a bid to normalise conversations around mental health and body image as someone who has anxiety and ADHD.

"I think that talking about mental health is a very bizarre thing because it can feel really heavy. And sometimes it can feel pretty clinical," she explained.


Listen on repeat if you’re anxious today. #coffeetalk #theadhdway #intrusivethoughts

"It's really important that when I am highlighting all of these really awkward and uncomfortable moments in my own life, most of them are because of my social anxiety and my anxiety and my mental health that naturally will go up and down throughout my life. And the things I'm talking about are very silly and very funny, but they boiled down to the stem of a place where it's struggling with mental health."

With a large platform, Myers also believes it would be "irresponsible" of her not to discuss this topic, and although we've taken steps in terms of society's attitudes towards mental health, she notes how a stigma still remains - one which she felt growing up.

"When I was a child, I could barely even tell my family members that I was seeing a therapist without it feeling like it kind of reflected shame onto my family. So I just didn't get to talk about a lot of things that were going on in my life as a kid to the people that were closest to me."

Now, Myers hopes she can provide a space online as well as in-person within communities for people "to feel like they're comfortable to talk about what they're going through and the help that they're getting," as well as "provide resources to people to live their best life and to just be healthy people that are functioning through their life."

"So I'm trying to seamlessly weave it into my stories so that people can understand you can laugh and like cry and be nervous all in one moment. They're not compartmentalised from each other," she added.

As it is May, it's currently Mental Health Awareness Month in the US which the creator sees as "really cool to encourage other creators to talk about [mental health."

But as reflected in her videos, Myers also wants conversations around mental health to be an everyday experience, not just an annual month-long event.

"I'm trying to not harp on the fact that it's Mental Health Awareness Month in a lot of my content because I want it to be something that people don't feel like once May is over 'alright well, we'll wait till next May to start talking about it again.'"

For someone who shares a lot about herself with her followers, Myers acknowledged the difficulty of looking after her mental health as someone with a large platform.

"It's really difficult to stay healthy mentally, physically, emotionally when you are just opening up so much of your life," she said and noted how having boundaries in her life has been "really powerful" for her and her family, such as taking weekends off from posting.

"I have OCD and so if I do something one day, I feel like I have to do it every day for the rest of my life. And learning how to break the pattern of posting every day genuinely has been really hard and really good for me.

"Taking time off finding those red flags that are indicators to me that I'm needing a break and then creating boundaries around what I share and what I don't share. Those are the ways that I really protect my mental health in all of this."

An unavoidable element of being on the internet as a content creator is receiving negative comments, which is something Myers has had to contend with as her follower count increased and she became "this idea to people instead of an actual person."

"Somebody that I love a lot says that you don't go shopping for pain," she said.

"It's hard to not respond [to negative comments]. But the best thing is to just... don't engage with it. It'll only make things worse, even if you're nice. It'll only make things worse."

Though, Myers' big following also means she has some famous fans including comedian Leslie Jones and actor Reese Witherspoon (who duetted her Reese's peanut butter toast recipe) which she says led her to have an "internal panic moment."


#duet with @elysemyers

"I genuinely don't think I can express how much I am watching all of this happen in front of my eyeballs as much as everybody else's. I just feel like I'm sitting on a couch and watching the movie theatre of my life alongside all of my followers with popcorn in my lap just like watching the screen and looking at everybody like 'what's gonna happen next like guys?'

"When big moments like that [happen] where celebrities will reach out or encourage me or share my content or tell me that they look up to me as a comedic influence, my brain just melts into a puddle and falls onto the floor."

Another consequence of becoming a viral creator is being recognised out and about, which Myers is still getting used to.

"When you're alone at home in a room looking at 4.6 or whatever it is million people just staring at you and your content. That number. There's no way for me to fathom that many people in one place."

"So then when I'm out, there's nowhere I can go now where somebody will not know who I am," she added.

While meeting people at the grocery store can be "simple," things are a whole other level at events, concerts or shows as "people go wild," which has led to Myers taking extreme lengths...

"I do hide in closets and I've had to have my husband and my husband's brother kind of act as like security. And it's very overwhelming," she admitted as she suffers from "crippling social anxiety," although Myers noted, "It's getting me out of my shell."

With her coffee talks, sporting her messy bun and hoodie along with her words of positivity, Myers' fans have dubbed her as "the internet's best friend" which she described as "a huge honour."

"People walk up to me and they're like, 'you don't know it but you're my best friend' or 'you don't know it, but you saved my life,' and I will just immediately start breaking out in tears," she said.

"I'm so thankful that people connect so deeply to what I am posting whether it's funny or serious or something in between. It's really cool the response I get."

Of course, as a TikToker Myers is all too familiar with the content on the app and shared with us some of her favourite creators which include: Elise Guilfoyle, Brittany Broski, Christine's Snaps, Emily Mariko, and Casey Hamilton.

As for her For You page... "It's a lot of babies, a lot of dogs a lot of food content and then really random I go into black holes of like, conspiracy theories just because of when I'm up really late at night," and gave the Avril Lavigne replacement conspiracy theory as an example.

Given Myers' impressive rise on TikTok, what can we expect from her in the future?

Well, she's certainly keeping herself busy by taking on the "creative battle" of producing long-form content on YouTube. Also, she's writing a scripted show and has a podcast coming up at the end of the year.

Those who are familiar with her singing videos will also know Myers is currently working on an album too which she intends to record, produce, and freely publish herself.

"[There are] A lot of things that are going to really stretch me creatively and it's good because it's really hard for me to stick to one thing for too long. So adding new things onto my plate keeps me a bit more engaged because I can get burnt out on things quickly - like most people with ADHD."

Fans who love Myers' storytelling about her awkward moments can also look forward to reading about them as she also has a book in the works which will contain short essays of stories that are "a bit more of what you've seen but content that you haven't heard yet" along with her backstory.

Next month, you can catch "the internet's best friend" at Vidcon in Anaheim, California where she will be taking part in a mental health panel called "Wellness in the Digital Age" with Chris Olsen and Spencewuah and she is set to host a meet & greet too.

You can find Elyse Myers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.

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