The Australian actor/writer/comedian has earned more than 3.3 million followers on Instagram for parodying absurd celebrity photographs. With people like Kim (or any of the Kardashian/Jenners, for that matter) clambering for cut-through, there there’s no shortage of fodder for the 35-year-old; Gwyneth Paltrow slathered in mud, a veiled Beyonce cradling her newborn twins. Hundreds of A-listers have had the Celeste Barber treatment.
But as she explained to Mia Freedman on Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, the success of her photos isn’t in simply copying poses or outfits.
“I’ve got to add something to it,” she said. “I’m not mimicking or mocking, I’m parodying; I’m adding some humour to it.”
Sometimes that means thinking about subtext – taking aim at what the celebrity must have been thinking when they posted it. Other times it might mean replacing Miley Cyrus’ wind machine with a leaf-blower. For this rest, it’s down to the caption or just a good ol’ visual gag.
“When I saw that Beyonce one, for example, I thought, ‘Hold close what’s important… Bread and wine.'”
The whole thing started in 2015 as a way to make her “very, very funny” sister laugh.
“She would just send something to me, seeing someone do a crazy yoga pose and be like, ‘Off you go’. Challenge accepted,” Barber said.
“I knew my mates would find it quite funny as well, and it just kind of went from there.”
These days, a parody post on her Instagram page will typically attract around 250,000 likes, and her videos around 2 million views. So how does she make them happen?
The material. How does she decide what’s worthy?
“I have in my phone a folder of photos I want to do. But that folder just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. So I don’t do most of them. If something comes up that’s very ‘of the now’, I have to try jump on it. So like, Beyonce holding her babies, or the pregnancy announcement.