Few people are as honest online as Jessica Sorkin. Her highly successful Instagram meme account @TheHandyJ addresses topics of all sorts. Many of her memes poke fun at the perils of intimacy and relationships, while others hilariously adapt popular shows and movies like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Remember the Titans.
Sorkin maintains nearly 750,000 dedicated fans on Instagram alone. We sat down with the creative mastermind to discuss how her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy plays into her memes, what it takes to make a viral meme, and her plans for the future.
1. What were you doing before you became a meme influencer?
I’m a life coach believe it or not. I went to the University of Miami for a masters in marriage and family therapy and have been trying to save people, one person, or couple at a time, ever since.
2. How did you develop an interest in social media and internet memes specifically?
Social media has allowed me to live my “real life” while building a platform to affect people on a much greater scale than my professional life would have ever allowed me.
I’ve always thought laughter was the best medicine and memes allow me to relate and connect while offering people a smile, a moment. I just want to make people laugh.
3. What challenges did you encounter when you first started your account? How did you overcome them?
It was my personal account initially. I guess the hardest part was figuring out how to physically, literally make a meme. Once I figured out how to make a meme, there were no other issues.
4. You have a masters degree in marriage and family therapy. In what ways does your background influence the memes you create and curate?
My goal in life is to make people feel better. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. Even if it’s only for a second via a meme. My memes tend to poke fun at myself and single life and relationships as that aspect of life has always stood out and permeated my life.
5. What three factors make up a highly shareable, potentially viral meme?
Timing is everything and the meme will go viral if it’s “good” (i.e. relatable or hysterical). Anything related to current events or pop culture can go viral and has a good shot at doing so if you’re funny. Or if the meme is funny. The world needs more laughs so that’s huge and amazing.
Oh, and the algorithm. That’s the third factor. The only one that actually has any real effect.
6. When choosing whether or not to work with a brand, how you decide? Which brand sponsorship(s) are you most proud of?
I love AdamAndEve.com. Not only are they aligned with my brand but they believed in me when I barely had any followers. They were one of my original advertisers. They’re the largest sex toys website. It just works.
I won’t work with people who don’t have heavy budgets. Anyone else can’t afford me. While that may seem obvious, my issue isn’t even a financial one. The reason they can’t afford me whatever that is means they complain about my prices and try to nickel and dime me and that brings down the value and my enjoyment. So no cheapskates.
7. In what way has your life most changed since you started @TheHandyJ?
My own, personal dating life was better before @TheHandyJ.
8. Lightning round:
If you were stranded on a deserted island what three items would you bring?
Does the island have an outlet and WiFi? Besides my charger and phone, I don’t need much else. I’d prefer to starve. I guess there’s my dog and she’d love the island.
Let’s put the rest of my siblings and family as two. My mattress would be included, too.
If you had to choose: Stand-up comedy or internet memes?
For myself, I’d never want to be a stand-up comedian. I love memes. Their reach is never-ending. It’s quite incredible.
Instagram or Snapchat Stories?
I love Snapchat. It’s not Zuckerberg. It was better than Instagram but it just got an update and it’s as if these apps are in a race to see who can annoy their users more.
Now, I’d say Instagram Stories. I have a larger following there so might as well just post on there.
9. In the next five years, how do you hope @TheHandyJ grows and develops?
I hope I get verified and have some “job security.” It’s really unnerving and I don’t understand why I’m not verified given I’m not pretending to be anyone else and have lots of published stuff. I hope to reach millions of people. I hope I have enough content to keep the laughs coming forever.
10. What’s next for you? Any forthcoming projects or endeavors that your fans should get excited for?
I’m about to launch my first merchandise which is a collaboration with Arsenic. They’ll be advertised on my Instagram soon. Be on the look-out!
This interview has been edited for clarity.