TikTok

The Rise of the TikTok Street Interview

By Editorial Staff

It’s our forever dream to be stopped on the street and asked how much our outfit costs or what song we’re listening to. Ranging from heartwarming to hilarious to a little bit embarrassing, any TikTok street interview is all the rage on TikTok. The trend of interviewing strangers on the street has brought us some of our favorite internet moments, including the corn kid and realizing that we probably need to brush up on our geography. 

Street interviews, or “man on the street” videos have been around for years, but the resurgence of the “what are you listening to” TikTok street interviews in the fall of 2021 quickly expanded to include all kinds of questions. Many TikTok creators devote their entire platforms to this format, creating personal brands entirely based on coming up with fun new questions to ask random strangers on the street, and hoping for an answer entertaining enough for the internet. 

Davis Burleson: The New York TikTok Street Interview King 

Davis Burleson is a 20-year-old college student in New York City, but he’s also the star of TikTok’s @whatspoppinshow. Witty and delightful, Burleson is known for running up to a random stranger on the streets of New York and asking them an often startling question, to find out what’s poppin’. Although Burleson’s energy is infectious, the real stars of the show are the (usually) Gen-Z guest stars to whom Burleson hands the mic. 

Burleson’s TikTok page first started blowing up in 2020 with his commentary on the Met Gala, and since then has gathered 2.1 Million followers on his Fallen Media TikTok street interview account @whatspoppinshow. He’s taken his questions about three things a man should never wear, or whether coffee every day is a nonnegotiable all the way to red carpets; most recently appearing at the Golden Globes. 

@whatspoppin

E580: He’s the definition of chic! #henrygolding #goldenglobes

♬ original sound – What’s Poppin? With Davis!

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Burleson’s content is mostly targeted at Gen-Z audiences, and he somehow manages to pick the perfect strangers to say something that slightly younger viewers are sure to find honest and relatable. The What’s Poppin Show isn’t always a comedy, Burleson often receives genuine and inspiring answers about protecting one’s mental health or how to be a good friend. 

@whatspoppin

We love a queen that protects her mental health! Tune into yourself at @spotify Wellness Hub with calming playlists and the Headspace Sunday Scaries podcast this World Mental Health Day. Link in Bio! #SpotifyPartner #nyc

♬ original sound – What’s Poppin? With Davis!

It’s no surprise that New York City is full of a TikTok-worthy cast of characters, and Burleson’s TikTok street interviews have inspired many other Interview accounts that take place on the streets of NYC. Other creators like @sidetalknyc and @watchingnewyork have followed in Burleson’s footsteps to bring more unfiltered entertainment to our For You pages. 

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Shan Rizwan: Exposing Your Spotify Listening History 

Shan Rizwan is most well known for his TikTok street interviews asking strangers wearing earbuds what song they’re listening to; now one of TikTok’s most popular trends. Rizwan now has 1.4 Million followers on TikTok, as well as a growing number of subscribers on his YouTube channel where he’s started guessing the incomes and rent of New York City residents. 

@shanrizwan

What are you listening to?

♬ original sound – Shan Rizwan

Rizwan has partnered with Spotify on multiple different occasions, highlighting podcasts detailing how musicians and social media work hand in hand, sharing what songs he’s currently listening to, or interviewing celebrities at Spotify events. 

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We love hearing firsthand what songs or albums are stranger’s personal main-character soundtrack as they walk the streets of NYC, and there’s no denying that the “what song are you listening to” TikTok street interview trend will remain a fan favorite for a while, as both Rizwan inspired accounts and parody TikTok’s poking fun at the trend emerge. 

Recess Therapy: A Wholesome Favorite 

Julian Shapiro-Barnum is the host of @recesstherapy, the TikTok street interview show that technically takes place on a playground. Shapiro-Barnum interviews children between the age of 2 and 9 to receive answers chock full of the best, most heartwarming tidbits of advice on the internet. 

Recess Therapy was created in 2021, and the web series exists on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube. Since then, @recesstherapy on TikTok has gathered 925.7 thousand followers and 567 thousand subscribers on YouTube. It’s also the home to viral internet sensations, the corn kid, and other kindergarten stars. 

@recesstherapy

Children of the… corn? 😂 🌽 #recesstherapy #corn #cornisgood #fyp #favorite

♬ original sound – Recess Therapy

The internet’s obsession with the corn kid’s unabashed love for corn on the cob doesn’t stop there, and every child that’s interviewed on the web series has words of wisdom that are pure gold. These unlicensed but wholesome mini therapists’ presence on our For You pages is all thanks to TikTok street interviews.  

Kurtis Connor: TikTok Street Interview Critic 

As with many internet trends, the TikTok street interviews are not immune to critique. With the entire concept of TikTok street interviews revolving around interviewing strangers, there’s bound to be some controversy around bothering pedestrians who don’t want to be bothered. 

Kurtis Connor’s YouTube video, “TikTok ‘Interviews’ are Insufferable” now has 3.7 million views, and details how some of the street interviews end up edited in a way that misconstrues the words of the interviewee or makes them look stupid. Connor claims that most of the interviewers seem annoyed or rude, even though they’re the ones utilizing the strangers for content. 

Some TikTok street interviews ask personal, or invasive questions such as “what’s your body count” or “kiss or slap”. The popular series of asking students on the BYU campus polarizing questions that get edited in a way that turns the students into a joke begs the question of how far creators are willing to go for content. 

@danbanbam

Asking BYU students their favorite party drink…

♬ original sound – danbanbam

Although Kurtis Connor’s video highlighted TikTok street interviews where the interviewees seemed uncomfortable, and it is bound to happen, not all TikTok street interviews are like that. Our favorites from the genre are wholesome insights into the lives of strangers we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. If you’re looking to start your own street interview series, being respectful of boundaries and privacy is key, but we hope to see even more from the authentic people on the street.

This article was written by Abigail Adams

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