How does an internet troll build his own following?
That's a question that Ken McCarthy, a.k.a. Ken M, can answer: He's the subject of a dedicated subreddit with more than 150,000 fans, as well as popular Facebook and Twitter pages. And that following is all for ... leaving comments. As the above video shows, those comments are funny enough to create a legion of devoted fans.
Calling Ken a troll is a bit of a category error — though he does lure in commenters with false premises and hilariously mistaken information, his act is more like a new kind of improv comedy. To my critical eye, he's an internet love child of early Smothers Brothers and Jack Handy, with a dash of Greg Packer, too. (Packer is a non-comedian famous for showing up as the "man on the street" in countless news articles, the same way Ken M is likely to pop up in comment sections.)
Ken experiments a lot. His persona easily transforms from that of a confused old man to a punctilious professor, but the result always has the same absurd sense of humor. Though his audience changes as well — he shifts between news comment sections and branded Facebook pages, among others — he adapts to each with jokes that he constructs on the fly.
The above video tries to tease out exactly how Ken thinks about his unusual comedic medium. It turns out that being a troll takes a lot of work — and a lot of patience.