Comedic satire. We’ve seen it with The Onion. We’ve seen it with College Humor. We’ve seen it with Hasan Minhaj at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. As someone who appreciates deadpan humor, I always turn back to these videos because of how funny they are. But, comedic satire is also great at addressing taboo topics in a lighthearted way.
One creator in this genre worth mentioning is Caroline Ricke. She’s an upcoming TikTok creator who has managed to gain a dedicated following of more than 2.1 million on the already-saturated platform. While Ricke’s original rise to fame came from a YouTube video about “A Day in the Life of a Harvard Biomedical Engineering Student” in 2019, she has since brought her content, and her impersonation of a millionaire daughter, to TikTok.
What’s especially unique about Ricke is that she’s a one-woman show. Satire usually requires a team of writers to create, edit and perfect the script and its different punchlines, but she started out as a solo creator and has continued to stay true to that, showing the novelty of her content among satirists.
Satire is social commentary, so it’s inherently tied with some of the more controversial issues of our time. For college-bound teenagers and young adults, a lot of what we see online are the lives of the ultra-wealthy. But recently, their lifestyle has started to come under greater scrutiny; the college admissions scandals are one example. Back in May, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli accepted a plea deal for securing their daughters’ admission into the University of Southern California through bribery.
To this, Ricke is so great at satirizing the lives of the wealthy and just making funny content. On both her TikTok page and her YouTube channel, Ricke’s impersonation has just the right amount of stubbornness, sarcasm and hilarity.
For someone with a position as impressive as “student body president of the United States,” Ricke is constantly inconsistent about the number of colleges she applied to when filming her Harvard decision video. Ricke also repeatedly talks about her parents’ wealth, making sure to mention how her mother, who was a nurse, got promoted to a doctor.
BBC Magazine said that satire should “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” and Ricke does just that. Her content is humorous and cathartic for students who have spent so much time working toward their education only to be undermined by those with more resources.
You can feel the irony when witnessing the disparity between what Ricke proclaims herself to be — “a singer, model, actress, dancer, dentist” — and how she acts. Ricke’s character believes she knows it all, but some of what she says suggests otherwise. Like, how does a nurse get promoted to a doctor? Does a student body president of the United States even exist?
Of course not, but all these absurd details contribute to her impersonation. The contrast between Ricke’s clever puns and the apparent cluelessness of her character points toward a level of self-awareness that is rare among social media influencers today.
Not every video of hers is directly related to college admissions, especially the ones on her TikTok page. Ricke’s content has broadened beyond college admissions to encompass anything and everything puns. While the format of TikTok limits many videos to be 30 seconds or less, Ricke has adapted by shortening her content as well. She’s shooting punchline after punchline, double entendre after double entendre.
Seriously what’s the net worth?
On her TikTok, for example, you’re greeted with the description: “I’m affluent in 7 languages.” Really impressive that Ricke’s a polyglot, but the accomplishment also makes light of how important it is to know the words you’re using. Affluent and fluent mean different things, but in Ricke’s case, she’s affluent either way!
In one of her TikTok videos, Ricke takes us through her makeup routine, stating that she uses “concealHIM and not concealHER because that’s sexist and implies that women should be suppressed.” In another clip, Ricke admits that she “actually went to cosmetology school by accident. Like when I signed up, I thought it was a class on outer space.”
Plot-wise, Ricke’s newer content tends to build off of her older pieces, so you can expect her to continually bring up details like her trust fund, her butler or her self-described prettiness. Or all of them at once. This consistency to the rich girl persona doesn’t make Ricke’s videos any more repetitive, however, because she always finds new ideas.
Beyond this impersonation, it’s really inspiring to see how committed Ricke is to her alter ego, to the point where we almost can’t tell when she is being herself and when she is not. There’s so much forethought that gets put into each video.
In a parody of Vogue’s 73 Questions, when asked, “If you had to live in a different state, what would it be,” Ricke responds with “I mean I live in the moment, but if I had to live in a different state it’d probably be the past.” When threatening to sue famous YouTubers, Ricke mentions the name of her attorney, Maya Tourney. The humor might be subtle, but the dedication is not, and it’s hard to not appreciate her content.
Excluding the script, Ricke is also extremely creative with her setup. When filming her day in the life of a Harvard student video, Ricke uses the Boston Public Library as the setting. When giving us a tour of her multimillion dollar mansion, Ricke uses model rooms at Ikea in lieu of an actual mansion.
As a regular creator, Ricke doesn’t live a life like Olivia Jade, but that doesn’t stop her. If anything, the setups are a testament to Ricke’s dedication, and it also makes her content more relatable because it shows that, contrary to what her alter ego believes, you don’t need lavish resources to succeed.
In her more recent videos, Ricke even makes fun of the rich Instagram aesthetic by donning a heart-shaped necklace that’s engraved with “Elon” and another necklace made of dominos. The surroundings in Ricke’s videos are totally antithetical to who she is portraying.
It’s super easy to mistake her content as literal, especially when watching it for the first time. I certainly did when watching her Harvard vlog. So while criticizing the rich’s privilege and obliviousness might have been her original intention, Ricke’s satire also shows us the importance of having a critical eye when consuming any media. Nieman Journalism Lab, a publication by Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, says that without understanding the issue being satirized, it’s “pretty easy to mistake a satirical message for a literal one.”
As such, in addition to attracting people that appreciate acting, witty humor and hard work, Ricke also engages a viewership that can tell the difference between satire and reality. There’s no mention of the word “satire” anywhere on her YouTube channel or her TikTok page.
Simply put, Caroline Ricke’s content cannot be found elsewhere. Like many others, I was originally drawn to her Harvard videos, but I have since stayed for the hilarious dialogue, the creative setups and the devotion Ricke has toward her character. It honestly feels like you’re watching a performance at times. And with performances comes intense preparation, so you know that any new video of hers will always be just as entertaining and inspiring as the others.