First Published March 2022
MEET ‘CLASSY CODY’
I have to admit, when TikTok first came along, I hated it. Straight away. And wholeheartedly. It wasn’t just another social media platform that you’d have to pay attention to (which was bad enough in itself), but here was one that seemed even more focused on people screaming out for attention in that “look at me, look at me!” kind of way that sometimes seems to dominate – and define – the whole social media ‘space.’ And let’s be honest, there’s an awful lot of that involved with what TikTok is.
BUT…with all that being said, I’m a sucker for talent, and even more so for people who can make me laugh. And more than all of that, I appreciate people who are clearly genuine in every aspect of their lives.
So if TikTok – for however long it exists in the world – is responsible for nothing other than making me aware of LOUISE CODY, then the platform will always have done more good than ill.
I can’t recall exactly how Louise first came to my attention, but I’m close to 100% certain that she’s made me laugh every single day since. In fact, Louise probably makes about 77k people laugh every day, because that’s how many followers that Laois woman has amassed on TikTok. Throw in another 12.5k followers on Instagram, and it’s easy to see why Louise – or CLASSY CODY, as she’s more often known – is someone we’ll all be hearing much more about.
I had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Louise recently, and the first thing I can confirm is that she’s every bit as funny in real-life as she is on her social media, and effortlessly and naturally so, too. She’s also just incredibly sound.
Because she’s involved in so many different things, and has so many sides to who she is, I wanted to begin by asking Louise one simple question…in her own eyes, who exactly is Louise Cody?
“To be honest, that’s a really good question. And it’s not something that I ever really give much thought to because I just go about [things] as I am. I see myself as a bit of a…goofball [laughs]. I just don’t take things too seriously, that’s really it, when it comes down to it. I wake up, work, sports, friends, just an overall goofball! That’s a very hard question! [Laughs].”
Before moving on to chat about her huge social media presence, I asked Louise to tell me about being known as ‘Classy Cody’, her handle on TikTok and Instagram. It half has the sound of something that’s been with her all of her life, but how exactly did that adjective attach itself to her identity?
“It’s actually a fairly average story, and it hasn’t been with me since childhood at all. And not enough people ask me where that comes from. It’s usually, ‘What makes you classy?’ Or, ‘Why are you classy?’, or ‘Are you classy?’ Because I curse a lot, like a sailor! So it comes into question an awful lot [laughs]. I remember when I got my very first iPhone, I had to set up a gmail address. My previous email address was something like loopylou@hotmail, something horrific anyway. So I was there for ages thinking what email was I gonna use. I was with a group of my friends who were lads, and they were like, ‘Classy Cody.’ I was like, well, why Classy Cody? And they just said because you’re very classy. So I was like…ok…and it’s easy to remember, so yeah! And that’s where it started. So then when I started Instagram, and TikTok and Twitter, I thought Classy Cody, grand, that’s a good username! I had thought about changing it, because there have been so many questions like, ‘But you curse so much?’, or you do this or that, ya know. But I think cursing is supposed to be a sign of honesty! [Laughs]. And, I’m classy in my morals! [Laughs]. So I had a few times where I thought, will I just change it to Louise Cody? But then I thought no, ya know what, it’s gone too far now and everybody knows me as Classy Cody, I’ll leave it as it is.”
Louise has more than 76k followers on TikTok, that’s more than the capacity of the Avia Stadium. Throw in her Instagram fanbase as well, and she has more than enough followers to fill Croke Park. What do those numbers mean to her when she thinks about them? Or does she even think musch about them at all?
“Oh God! When ya say it like that! [Laughs]. I don’t even think about them, to be honest. I can’t even remember the point where my TikTok really took off. Honestly. I suppose, in the beginning, I wasn’t really being my true self. I wasn’t not being myself, I was just holding something back. But it just continued to grow the more I actually started to show my personality through my videos. In my head, it’s not a huge deal. As in, it doesn’t faze me. I don’t get too hung up on it. I think if you get hung up on numbers, that’s your downfall. That’s where you change how you act, how you post, everything. Your content becomes around numbers. You stop being yourself. And it’s fairly obvious from my stories on my Instagram – when I put up drunk stories [laughs] – that I don’t care! But yeah, when you think about it like you said there, and in terms of the Avia Stadium, that is overwhelming. I don’t know why they follow me! But here we are [laughs].”
Louise mentioned once that before she joined TikTok, her social media platforms were just like everybody else’s really, just posting normal stuff, but nothing major taking off in terms of reaction. And yet, she was obviously still the exact same person, funny, witty, wholeheartedly genuine, with a really sharp but honest edge to her. When TikTok came along, did she think, ‘Yes, this is me!’, straight away? Or what were her first thoughts around that platform?
“I discovered TikTok in the first lockdown. I was working from home, in finance, so it’s fairly mundane. Head down, headphones in, heavy work, just getting it done. So I don’t really get a chance to show my personality too much through my work. Unless I was in the office where I could be talking to people, and probably not getting as much work done [laughs]. I started messing around with videos out of boredom at the start, and I had a few viral ones at the start. Then I got up to 1k followers. Then I started doing Sunday night lives [videos], going ‘live’ when I was watching the NFL (American Football). I gained a kind of core crew of followers from there who are still with me. I would have been on ‘live’ for the entire duration of a game, could be three hours. I don’t know why I started doing that, other than just because I could, because I had reached the number of followers where TikTok allowed you to go ‘live.’ I’d seen other people do it, so I kind of just chanced it, totally out of boredom.”
“It was very nerve-wracking, the first couple of them”, Louise declared, continuing, “I was probably having a beer – or two! – for those, just to take the edge off [laughs]. I’d be thinking, this is insane! I’m sitting here talking to myself, it’s uncomfortable! But then as more regular followers started coming in, I got more comfortable with it. And now, nothing fazes me. And to be honest, TikTok has done that for me. I probably would have spent an awful lot of time thinking about what people thought about me. But now, I actually couldn’t care, like. At the start, with my content, I would have held parts of myself back. And I’d be the same when I’d meet people. Like, I’m full-on! I would consider myself a bit of a weirdo [laughs]. I’m quite energetic. So there are times with that blunt honesty, that people are not ready for it. Because my style of humour would be kind of like…abuse! [Laughs]. So I’ll be sneering everyone and laughing, and people will be thinking, ‘She’s a bitch!’ [Laughs]. But now I’m myself from the get-go when I come into groups of people. It’s given me a confidence I didn’t have before, just through putting myself out there.”
Although Louise had said that she couldn’t really remember there being a point when she knew her TikTok was really taking off, I wondered if there had been a moment when she first realised that the kind of traction she was getting was more than would be expected from just the usual family and friends kind of following?
“It’s mad, because I spent my whole life growing up in Laois, and going anywhere in Ireland I’d be told, ‘Jesus, that accent!’ [Laughs]. But it was my videos where I was speaking that did really well, and everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, I love your accent.’ And that, for me, was like…Because again, that brings it full-circle back to the confidence thing. Because for a long time, I thought my accent was horrible! And I would openly abuse myself [about it] before anyone else could. If anyone else tries to abuse Laois, I’m like, ‘I never said it was good, I just said I’m from there’ [laughs]. I gained an awful lot of Australian and American followers because of the videos where I’m talking, cos’ they ‘love my accent.’ And I’m like, that’s nice! [Laughs]. When I was in college, there would be an echo of me talking in the room. As in, I’d say something, and even just how I’d pronounce stuff would be imitated. But I don’t think I have a bad Laois accent! If I was on a night out and someone came up to me and asked me where I’m from, I’d be like, guess! And they’ll be like, Kildare? [Laughs]. But to be fair, my mom is a Kildare woman, and my dad is a Munster man. But my older brother has a very thick Laois accent [laughs].”
Louise continued, “The South Park stuff actually, but that was only during 2021 when I did my first one of those. But constantly underneath my videos [in the comments], it’s all do another South Park one! But that comes with it when you have a video that goes viral, you gain followers for that genre. They’re there for that. So if you don’t continue to do that, then you’ll lose them. And I can understand that. But no, there was no one time when I realised anything. I wasn’t focusing on the views, or the likes or the followers, I was just posting what I thought was good, and it just grew from there.”
Speaking of her content, what Louise produces is amazing. And it doesn’t just happen. There’s clearly a lot of time, talent, and effort that goes into what she does. But my first question on her content could really only be one thing…does Louise have some kind of background in drama?
“No! Not at all. And I’m kinda raging that I don’t! I would have been in pantomimes a little bit, but I was never front and centre. It would have just been in the chorus. But when I was in those, I was quite nervous about them, that was early secondary school. But I love it, and it’s something that’s only come to the forefront with TikTok, that it’s a passion of mine and I probably should pursue it in some way! I might have left it a little bit late to do it now. But I’ve always been so animated. That’s something my friends will always say about me. I’m the kind of person who, if my friends are going on a night out and I’m not going, they’ll be like, ‘Why are you not coming?!’ I bring – without wanting to sound big-headed or anything – a level of entertainment! [Laughs]. No matter what mood I’m in, I’ll always be animated and energetic, and say something because I always talk before I think! I’ll just come out with something, and they’ll be like…, ‘Whaaaat?!’ [Laughs]. I’d love to be on stage. But, time, ya know!”
South Park, as Louise had indicated already, clearly has a very special place in her heart. And because of that, it has a very special – and regular – place on her socials as well. I asked Louise to talk me through the process of deciding to do a South Park post, for example, from choosing something to getting it just right…
“South Park got added to Netflix, and I was rewatching it. I was never allowed to watch it as a kid, but I used to wait until my parents went to bed and then sneak up and watch it! Because of all the cursing in it. That’s probably one of the reasons why I am the way I am today, I am like Cartman! [Laughs]. So yeah, I was rewatching that through lockdown, and I was like oh my God, I hadn’t seen it anywhere on TikTok. So I was thinking it was definitely something I could do. I obviously enjoy the show, and I’m good at lip-syncing. So I did one, and it just took off! Then a lot of other Irish TikTokkers started doing them, so I kinda feel like I somewhat set a trend at the time. People think I put an awful lot of time into my videos. And I do, in a sense. But I’ve gotten so used to recording them now. And I say this to everyone, because it’s something my family has always said to me…if I was as good at life as I am at remembering lyrics, I’d be laughing! [Laughs]. I can just listen to it once or twice and then I have it. Then maybe two takes. And then change views. Sometimes I don’t do every person in it, because that leaves an opening for someone to duet it which is more exposure for the video. Looking at my social media, you would think I spend an awful lot of time on TikTok, I don’t. I post every day at 5 o’ clock. I don’t record every day. I have a heap of drafts saved. So on the weekend, or even if I have ideas during the week, I’ll hear a sound and I’ll be thinking about it. I’ll click into the sound and go through each video and see what everyone else is doing, because I don’t want to be another video that makes you go sure I’ve seen this ten times already. So I try to make it relatable number one, and I try to make it unique, so that people will look at it and be like, ‘Yes!’, and send it to their friends, and so on, and so on. It probably was time-consuming at the start because I didn’t really know how TikTok worked. But now that I do, and if you’re consistent with what you’re posting, and do it at the same time every day, then your algorithm pushes people to your page. In terms of recording, though, it doesn’t take me long to do videos at all.”
As her following grows, and so does her reputation, does Louise feel under pressure to keep putting stuff out there? Would she feel comfortable stepping away from it to take a break?
“Yeah, I definitely would. Like, I have it in such a way now that it’s like a system. I even have all my apps on screen-time limited, because there was a time where my eyes were bloodshot, the screen-time on my phone was wrecking my eyes! And I sit in front of a screen all day as well [for work]. So it makes me very anti-social if I’m spending a lot of time on my phone. I noticed it in particular when I was around my family, that they’d be talking to me and I wouldn’t hear them. They’d be getting thick with me, then I’d be getting thick with them. So I limited that. As I come across sounds, I’ll record like a dummy shot, me saying something into it just so I have the sound saved, rather than throwing it into my favourites. That’s how I keep the ideas. Then when I come back to it and watch the dummy-recording, I can say right, that’s where I was going with that idea. I’d plan everything, save everything, and post day by day then.”
Louise was also one of the co-presenters on the Off The Laois podcast. If you haven’t heard any of the shows, they’re well worth listening back to. While each episode had a tendency to start off somewhat wild and funny, possibly going in any direction, they also tended to settle down into fairly serious, honest, revealing – but still funny – conversations. And with Louise, of course, never being shy! But what was the connection between the presenters, I wondered? How did the whole project come about? Did everyone know each other already?
“So what happened is Eamon Callaghan owns Vision 85, it’s a work-hub in Laois where you rent out workspace, hot-desking, stuff like that. He had the idea that he’d really like to start a Laois podcast, because there was nothing like that happening. He scoped out a few personalities, and there were quite a lot of big personalities. He got them all into one room and that kind of filtered out who worked well with who, or who was interested and who wasn’t. But no, none of us knew each other at all. Like, I follow David Cuddy, but I never met him in my life before. I followed Bob Flavin, but I never met him in my life before. And now, I literally talk to Bob Flavin and David Cuddy every day! And David isn’t even on the podcast anymore. So, it was just an idea that Eamon had, himself and Matt Kerry just thought of people, threw them into a room, got some ideas, and it became what it is now, which is myself, Matt and Bob. I’ve always kind of wanted to do a podcast, so I looked at this as an opportunity to learn what it takes to be on one, and the work that goes into it. There’s an awful lot of structure involved in it. And time! [Laughs]. With editing and stuff. So I always had a goal that I’d gain enough knowledge to do my own, and that may come some day.”
So was Louise also involved in some of the behind-the-scenes work such as the editing of each show?
“In the last two episodes now, I’ve taken control of the structure because I’m an organisation freak! When there’s no structure – and you’ve probably noticed from some of the episodes – it’s just been go-with-the-flow, just talk about whatever comes up. But with the Valentine’s show, I had all the questions prepared, and the two before that as well, I was prepared with questions. To be honest, it gave me that kind of step-up as well, because I was going in and sitting back and just taking part. But I had to lead it when I had the prep done, and that’s what I needed to be learning to do.”
When the podcast does enter a more serious mode, Louise is very open and honest in what she shares. Is that something that comes naturally to her anyway, or is it more the setting of the podcast and being there with the lads that makes it easier for that to happen?
“Well no, it’s not that really, because like I said, we didn’t know each other at all. The first few episodes we were all quite open with each other. And I would be a quite open person anyway, probably to my own detriment! I wear my heart on my sleeve! I will constantly talk about how I feel. I didn’t think there was going to be teenagers or young people listening to the podcast and looking up to me, but I was kind of like well if they follow me and then they do go listen to the podcast, I want them to know that I’m not perfect. I want them to know that I have had my issues, or that I have had this or that. That I’m a real person. Because with social media it’s so easy to look at people and think [everything’s perfect]…it’s like this fake persona, ya know. Whereas I try to be as real as I can. Obviously with my Instagram photos, I’ll take one and put it up, that’s a proper photo. But in terms of my content and my videos, and even my stories, I’m very much me. And it’s the same with the podcast. I was probably a little bit quieter in the first few episodes, but I think it’s very important for me to be open. Without revealing too much, obviously. Ya don’t want to know everything about people [laughs].”
Louise mentioned teenagers or young people looking up to her. Is that something that’s very much in the back of her mind now, as she becomes a more recognisable public figure?
“Well, to be honest, that’s been from day-one. My little nephew, he was eleven at the time, he’s twelve now, he always followed me. And he always wanted to be in videos with me. I don’t know why, but I don’t look at a female following and think about younger girls looking up to me. He’s the one that drives me. I think about if he was to watch me, and would this affect him? I know he looks up to me, and that’s what I would channel everything towards.”
~ You can follow Louise on TikTok and Instagram by searching for Classy Cody. Episodes of the Off The Laois podcast are available on Spotify.