Dominic DiTanna Wants you to Star in his Ocean City Show
By Jayne Jacova Feld

If you’ve spent time on the Ocean City boardwalk over the past few summers, you may have seen the spectacle of people lining up for a chance to be in Ocean City’s most viral videos. To be more specific, it’s TikTok star Dominic DiTanna’s Boardwalk Show. You may have even told DiTanna a joke or performed your talent for him – and his 3.8 million TikTok followers. Every evening like clockwork, DiTanna, who grew up in Mt. Laurel and Ocean City, sets up in front of Shirt World between 7th and 8th streets. It’s just him and an iPad, microphone and a small placard stating, “Star in My TikTok Video.” And lots of people take him up on the offer.

The show is winding down as the season changes and DiTanna follows the sun. He’s moving his small production to Southern California after Labor Day in a great position. Thanks to the enthusiastic reception he got in OC this summer, his TikTok fan base has more than doubled. In fact, the Ocean City show, he says, is in large part what made him TikTok famous in the first place.

Q: How did you get your start on TikTok?

When TikTok started getting big, I got on by making videos telling my girlfriend jokes. She was also getting big doing dances, and I started gaining a following.

Q: How did you figure out how to grow your audience?

I was no one famous but I cracked the TikTok algorithm. I realized you don’t have to be famous to get a big following. The more you post, the more TikTok pushes your videos out to people who would like it.

So in the summer of 2019, when TikTok was getting really big, I had this growing following and I wanted to make videos in Ocean City, where I’ve spent every summer of my life. I had to figure out a way to post 10 or so videos a day and the Boardwalk Show was the answer.

I used to shoot surf videos for my friend who owns Shirt World on the Boardwalk, so he let me set up here. I got a street performance license and I made a cardboard sign that said, “Tell me a joke.” My dad made me a better sign and it just took off. In just one month of making videos 7 nights a week I went from 800,000 followers to well over a million, with 175 million views. It was a crazy hit. People would form huge lines to get on the show.

@dominicditanna HIS PERFORMANCE TALENT IS INCREDIBLE!!!! #ocnj #ocnjboardwalk #oc #nj #boardwalkshow #dywtgv #summer #boardwalk #aystasg #areyousmarter #tiktoktaughtme #2022 #anybodyswelcome #beach #joke #jokes #tellmeajoke #singer #sing #singing ♬ original sound – DOMINIC DITANNA

 

Q: What are some Boardwalk Show highlights?

There have been some amazing singers on the show. Interesting talents do really well. A few weeks ago, a little kid came up and did a full performance of a song from “Hamilton.” It was just so incredible. He was very passionate about what he was doing, like he practiced his whole life for that moment. Also, “Tell me your funniest joke” goes viral a lot if the person tells the joke with good delivery and enthusiasm.

Q: What do you think makes the show so popular?

I think it’s because anyone who wants to do it gets on the show. If you think about shows like “America’s Got Talent,” you can perform for the show and not actually get on TV. The kind of person who will work up the nerve and take time out to try out for a show like that, perform a magic trick or sing, to them it’s so disheartening to get cut. Anybody who comes and stands in line on my show will be posted. It’s free and, because I have so many followers, it gets seen. It’s like I’m opening up my platform for anyone who wants to be on the show.

Q: What are your South Jersey creds?

I grew up in Mt. Laurel and went to Lenape High School for freshman and sophomore year before we moved to Ocean City when my dad got a job in Wildwood. My parents still have their house in Mt. Laurel and their shore house, where I come every summer.

Q: Before you got onto TikTok, you called yourself a street photographer. What’s that mean?

Before TikTok, I was mostly doing photography. I would do photo shoots for people in public places, like Times Square, Miami Beach or the Santa Monica pier. I’ve also been a portrait photographer and used to do surf shots. And I’m a musician. I just officially released a new song called “Better Days,” and it’s already had thousands of views on TikTok.

Q: How do you make a living on TikTok?

I earn a living by doing brand deals with companies that I partner with. I create and post videos to my page so that brands can reach my audience.

Q: Have you figured out the recipe for TikTok success?

A lot of people struggle with this: They get upset if they post something and it doesn’t catch on. But the thing is you have to post a lot and post consistently – that’s why the Boardwalk Show works. If I tried to perfectly write out a video idea, perfectly edit it and perfectly do everything – it would take me 5 hours to do one video. I can post 10 in an hour with what I’m doing.

Technically nobody is saying I don’t have my own game show. TikTok has given me the ability to have my own game show using a little iPad, a wireless microphone and a sign. I didn’t have to go to Hollywood to do this. And I’m having such a great time. I feel blessed and lucky to be doing something fun that brings joy to so many people. It makes me happy.

September 2022
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