Why Josh Harmon quit TV to be a Full-Time TikToker

  • Josh Harmon quit his job as a host on NBC’s Today’ to create social media content full-time.
  • In just months, he had gained 3.7 million followers. He also appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
  • This is Charissa Cheong’s account of Josh’s life.

This is an as-told to essay based upon a conversation with Josh Harmon. It has been edited for length & clarity.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be an artist. After graduating from Amherst College, and feeling overwhelmed by the lack of direction, I applied for the NBC Page Program, which provides experience in the television industry. 

It was amazing to me that I had been accepted into this prestigious program. It is considered a gateway to the entertainment industry and many have made amazing careers out of it. 

I was able to walk the streets of 30 Rockefeller Plaza for a year and work on television sets. “Today”Show and “The Tonight Show.”It was an incredible experience until November 2021. It was then that I decided to quit and become a full-time TikToker.

I began posting on social media during the pandemic, and it suddenly took off.

The day I was supposed to find out about my permanent job placement was March 12, 2020 — right before the pandemic hit America and television studios shut down. All of a sudden I was returning home with my parents, and working remotely as an editor for the newsletter. “Today” show. 

I was back in my childhood room, playing my drums since I was 4. I began making drumming videos, and then posting them online. Instagram. My brother convinced my to post my first social media post. I had never been a fan of social media. TikTokIn July.

My own series was started on TikTok and is called “Rhythms of Comedy,”I used to drum along to stand-up comedians’ jokes. A love of television inspired me to start doing impressions of sound effects in popular movies.  One of my videosMy drumset was used to create sounds for a Ratatouille cooking scene. It received 100,000 views overnight, and was trending on TikTok in February 2021. It now has 173,000,000 hits. 

When TikTok began to take off, I was at a crossroads. I was a straight-A student and a prestigious job was important for me. But, social media was exploding and I was making lots of money with brand deals and advertising revenue. I decided to quit my job and focus full-time on content creation. 

TikTok helped my escape from TV’s slow job progression and found success quickly. 

Although I loved my job and enjoyed it, I knew that it would be difficult to move up the career ladder. I thought that maybe if my hard work was enough, I would be able to become an assistant and get the right person coffee so they could bring me into a meeting where we could discuss having my own show. 

TikTok has given me my own show so it’s been a much more efficient way to accomplish my goals. TikTok is a platform that allows me to express myself freely, unlike traditional media where I would be restricted in what I could say. 

A picture of Josh playing the drums

Josh was home filming when he appeared on The Tonight Show

Josh Harmon


After a year, I discovered that my annual salary at NBC was doubled from brand deals and ad revenues. YouTube,Where I also post my thoughts “Rhythms of Comedy”Movie sound effect videos, and have 900,000. 

As an usher at NBC, I worked as a staff member. “The Tonight Show”Jimmy Fallon is a great host, and he helps people get in their seats. Jimmy invited me on the show in 2020 and people all over the country started to get to know about me.

Josh Harmon Drums & Comedy (@josh_harmon_).| Drums & Comedy (@josh_harmon_)

Good content creation is an art form in itself and should be respected as much television.

Many people view working in television as something that they want to do. Today, YouTube and TikTok have replaced TV. When I make videos, I see myself as a character, much like a TV actor. I have had comedians like Ken Jeong or Ben Schwartz tell my that they love my work. 

A picture of Josh at his drum set.

Josh playing his drums.

Josh Harmon


It’s important that people are aware of the difficulties involved in content creation. To polish one video, I spent three to four days. Ad revenue isn’t always reliable and I have to deal with many negative comments. I now have a therapist and would recommend them to anyone who is a creator. They can help with the exhausting effects of working on the internet 24/7.

Because I can make people smile doing what I love, social media is better than television. It’s the future for entertainment. I hope that people will see social media as an arena for success, not just a way to get to the next level. 

Check out Insider’s Digital Culture team for more stories similar to this.

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