V Spehar started from the bottom. Not really. On her TikTok account “Under the Desk News” Spehar delivers bite-sized messages to more than 2.7 million floor followers every day. Your journey to that carpeted plane is unlikely: After 10 years in the hospitality industry in Washington, DC, Spehar worked to increase food security in Baltimore before becoming Director of Impact for Womxn and LGBTQIA+ programs at James Beard Foundation rise.
When Spehar was furloughed early in the COVID-19 pandemic, “they started making little TikToks about how to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and what came out of the Small Business Association,” Spehar tells Mashable , “Stuff that we taught in our chef webinars.” Turns out she really, Yes, really good at explaining current events and breaking down information. Now millions are tuning in to Spehar’s succinct, scathing clips filmed under her desk.
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Spehar recently started hosting a podcast called “V Interesting” (recorded session at a desk) with Lemonada Media to explain news and current events in a longer format. But TikTok will always be her no. 1. “I’m die-hard,” they say, “like the people who got on YouTube in 2009. If you ask Hank Green, “What’s the best platform?” he’d say, ‘It’s YouTube.'”
Spehar spoke to Mashable about the top videos on her For You page (in no particular order), her favorite creators to watch every day, and why being on TikTok is like becoming your mayor at one Appearing in a local theater production of Watch Jesus Christ Superstar.
Mashable: I love the idea of someone coming out of a goodwill with a chamber pot.
This channel just makes me laugh; it gives you the opportunity to laugh at your ignorance. And also the fact that you probably ate gravy from a female urinal. I love hidden history. I think what’s so funny about it is that we give meaning to the story based on how we experience it now. Joking about the women’s urinal gravy boat reminds us that the characters we recreate from history — politicians and politicians, etc. — are based on what we think they are, not what they were then actually were.
V. Spehar: Correct, as the current interpretation of the constitution is shaky because they don’t mean the same thing. We don’t talk about guns in the same way.
We’re looking at these historical figures together in the Victorian era, in the colonial period – I would say from 1776 to the early 1900s – as such. So smart, so coolly dressed, so successful, so educated and their houses so ornate. And it’s like no, they weren’t!
Your teeth fell out!
Their children worked in mines, they pissed in gravy boats, they lived too close to animals and spread diseases! The natives had to teach them to bathe! You can laugh with NotYourMommasHistory because you’re like, “Oh my god, who even knew there was a women’s urinal?”
2. Kelly Krout (@KellyforArkansas)
Kelly was new to me! The only other political candidate I saw using TikTok well was this video where a girl has thirst traps and then it cut to a politician lying on the floor and saying, “Hey, vote!”
Ken Russell from Florida! He and Kelly are the two best. They really care about the community and they are authentic TikTokkers. I pride myself on knowing a lot about politics and I didn’t know what the Lieutenant Governor was doing or that they were elected separately, silly as that may sound. I was just thinking, you know, the governor probably picks his best friend, and that’s him. But it’s a completely different race. And sometimes there’s a Republican governor and a Democratic lieutenant governor.
Kelly has done so well using songs, TikTok, and merch to spread her message, and not just to the people voting for her in Arkansas, to inspire people to run. She is the mother of eight [and] jokes about how she copes with a noisy convention. She is so approachable that there are women who sit at home and say: “I am a mother of eight children! Maybe I’d run for Congress.” She and Ken aren’t on TikTok to get somewhere else; They’re here because their community is here, and they like it and it’s fun. I saw Ken in the main debate against another Democrat because he live-streamed it on TikTok. Every time I see them, I feel like they are speaking directly to me, a non-binary living in Rochester, New York who cannot vote for any of them. But I’m part of their community.
What is bad use of TikTok by a politician?
There are politicians who joke that their account is run by their Gen Z intern. That’s crazy because I don’t want to see it then. I’d rather do the intern myself, I’d like to see something she is do. I don’t need anyone to speak for you. I’ve called TikTok the community theater of social media platforms; We want to see you as a star. I want to see my town’s little mayor in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Disciple Five Jesus Christ Superstar this is being held in the high school gym slash cafeteria. This is what I want. And I’ll show up for you and clap for you. give me the shipment I think that’s why celebrities don’t do well [on TikTok]. Much like I want my friends and family and their little show to do well – have their moment, be a star, get their applause, and entertain us – I don’t want Justin Timberlake playing Jesus in my hometown.
He shouldn’t be there.
Right. I love TikTok for the fact that everyone has their turn to be the star. It’s very show-and-tell, it’s very community theater. It’s super accessible. Anyone can create a TikTok now, you don’t need as much video production talent as YouTube. And you don’t have to be hot like on Instagram. You could be anyone in the whole world. In fact, the more you are yourself, the more people love you.
3. Jonathan Kung (@ChefJonKung)
I’ve seen Jon’s videos on my feed, they are beautiful. Tell me a little more about why he’s one of your favorite creators.
I’ve known about Jon Kung’s kitchen for years, having worked with independent chefs from the James Beard Foundation. He was popular on Instagram before he was popular on TikTok. As a young chef, he understood that an Instagram and social media presence is, in a way, the new James Beard Award. Your following will bring you jobs, opportunities and paid work in an industry that to this day underpays your talent. So he learned how to use a camera. I think it’s a great lesson to say, ‘I’m very good at being a chef, but I have to learn something that has nothing to do with cooking, because now it has all to do with being a successful chef.”
Jon is a chef from Detroit. He identifies as queer. He’s Chinese-American and talks about it a lot third culture Kitchen. He guides people through Detroit in a way that the average American public probably thinks of Detroit, and they might think of a rundown, abandoned place.
Right! But Jon Kung’s Detroit is a place I want to visit. When you head to Jon Kung’s Detroit, you’ll walk past some of the most incredible artistic graffiti that has meaning, history and soul. He shows you his world, which happens to be that place you may not have known about.
What I love about Jon’s kitchen is that it’s a place where you can rest. He’s created a little universe that he’s filming in, which is very beautiful, and you get the idea that you’re in that universe with him. You see all the spices, he moves slowly and gracefully. It’s like a choreography. And then he tells you a story about the food and how to prepare it and he also gives you permission to eat it. It’s only a minute while you’re scrolling through your phone to stop and say, “I’ll have John come over to keep me company, entertain me, educate me, and feed me.”
4. Imani Barbarin (@Crutches&Spice)
I follow this creator on Twitter for insights. I didn’t know they had a TikTok!
She’s the go-to resource for when things come up for the disability community on TikTok that everyone flags for their opinion, story, and what we do next. She carries much water for the disabled community and for educating the able-bodied community as to why an issue is important and what is going on.
I learned even the simplest facts from her. I had no idea how many canes, wheelchairs and mobility aids broke at TSA – it’s thousands a year! She has a way of saying, “Yes, it’s true.” She says it with authority and immediately catches up with you.
I appreciate her ability and talent to sift through many of the emotions, pain and frustrations she experiences as a disabled person and then still express them in ways that people can take action to improve. It’s such a special ability. I watch her every time she shows up on my FYP. And it’s groovy stuff too. She talks about smoking weed, she’s a normal person. I am so grateful to have the information from her and I respect her very much but I am concerned about her. I see her tagged in every video and I think Man, that must be a lot to carry.
5. Kendhal Landreth
I also love Kendahl. Every time she imitates her mother, I want to die.
Kendall Landreth is the funniest person you could ever be friends with. Everything about her is funny to me – the way she embodies her mother, her grandma with the dog. She impersonates characters on TLC shows and pokes fun at being a dance mom or say yes to the dress. She creates a character who would exist in this universe so authentically that we can laugh about it without making fun of people. And that’s a skill. Her compassionate comedy is next level. I fucking love her.
And I love her mother and that her mother comments on her videos. And that her mother follows “Under the Desk”! I was very honored when Darla started following me.
are you friends with kendall
Not in real life, only in TikTok life.
What does that mean?
I’ve never met Kendall in real life, I don’t have her phone number and we’ve never had dinner or anything. But I feel like I know her. It is what the children will call a “parasocial relationship”. And she feels like she knows me too! We had DM talks. I would say to someone with a straight face, “I’m friends with Kendall Landreth,” but I’m not!