My best friends and I have had a group chat dedicated to celebrity gossip that’s pushing 15 years now. But in our earliest years circa 2005 as post-college graduates navigating social media-free lives as assistants in New York City, we were IM-ing (on AOL) and BBM-ing (on Blackberries) about the scoop we read daily on Dlisted, Pink Is The New Blog, and Perez Hilton or who we’d spot IRL out in the wild. When Comments By Celebs came across our newsfeeds on Instagram in 2017, it was met with a collective, “OMG. THIS IS BRILLIANT!”
Co-founded by Emma Diamond and Julie Kramer—best friends and Syracuse University alumnae—Comments By Celebs was a result of Instagram changing the algorithm to spotlight comments left by verified users. The self-proclaimed “pop-culture enthusiasts” immediately noticed celebrities interacting with each other directly and sending screenshots to their own group chat.
Diamond, 24, said to herself, “I have to capitalize on this.” She enlisted Kramer, 22, in starting the account and soon after, they both decided to put grad school on hold and make social media-monitoring a full-time job. Since then, the Tri-state area-based duo has expanded their brand to also include three niche sister accounts, which they also run: @CommentsByAthletes, @CommentsByBravo, and @CommentsByInfluencers.
They also host a weekly podcast, but often produce bonus episodes as major stories like the Tristian Thompson and Jordyn Woods scandal or the 50 Cent and Lala Kent feud unfold. And finally, they can count Kim Kardashian as one the many celebrity fans they’ve amassed (Kelly Ripa, Chrissy Tiegen, Gwyneth Paltrow, and John Mayer all interact with the account regularly; Katie Couric has guested on the podcast). This milestone moment for their growing modern media empire was the tipping point in launching a Patreon page, where subscribers have access to exclusive and behind-the-scenes content.
“I think what’s happening is that we are, in a way, humanizing celebrities and making the public aware of their relatability,” adds Diamond. “Think back to ten years ago: stars seemed like they were ‘untouchable.’ Now, fans can see an authentic, behind-the-scenes view into these A-lister’s lives. It’s a very interesting shift. Something about reading a comment written by a celebrity feels more intimate than your classic paparazzi shot.”
In honor of our shared passion for celebrity and cannabis, and in celebration of Comments By Celebs recently reaching one million followers, I caught up with Diamond and Kramer to talk about how getting high helps them balance digital life with real life, the appreciation of a good old-fashioned bong, and the stars they want to smoke with most.
Comments By Celebs co-founders Emma Diamond & Julie Kramer.
Courtesy: Comments By Celebs
Katie Shapiro: When did you both first experience cannabis?
Emma Diamond: I smoked for my first time in high school when I was a sophomore. I was very curious and have the classic “I tried it and I thought I was high, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t as curious about drinking—and still am not really into it. As a senior, I started to really enjoy it regularly and since then it’s just always been a part of my life.
Shapiro: Same. Were your parents aware?
Diamond: I am an only child and my parents had me later in life. We have a very close and super open relationship. It’s more like a friendship where they have always trusted me and trusted my judgement. They never made weed a “thing”—it’s just been the understanding that I could smoke out in the open in my house, as opposed to having to go to a parking lot or somewhere I could have gotten in trouble. I think that level of communication makes for the healthiest relationship in a lot of ways. And listen, I learned from the best.
Julie Kramer: I was experimenting in high school and then around my junior year of college it became a substitute for having a drink. But my family is very opposite from Emma’s. My parents were always much more strict growing up and they never really had that awareness that I was smoking a lot of pot … until now [laughs].
Shapiro: How does the plant play a role in your routines today?
Diamond: We’re not the “wake and bake type.” We’re not our most productive when we are high so it’s the perfect way to wind down when we’re done working and have fun. There’s so much [content] to get through so we consider it our reward after being “on” all day and just laugh together.
Kramer: I truly admire productive stoners. I am just not one of them! It doesn’t help me during the workday. We know that if we are smoking, we are using it to relax. But I will say that during that time when we are unwinding, we have had our best ideas. The creativity just flows.
Behind the scenes of a breaking news story at Comments By Celebs HQ.
Shapiro: What’s a typical workday like?
Diamond: Initially, when we first started, there wasn’t this sense of urgency. It was pure humor. Now, we are this legitimate source of entertainment news and the go-to source for breaking celebrity Instagram news. There’s definitely now a heightened awareness for us and a constant need for us to be on our phones. We genuinely warn each other if we are getting in the shower.
Kramer: And our podcast has really started to grow. We are putting a lot of work into producing that and trying new formats for content that is more timely. We’re really focusing on this as a business. Yes, we have an Instagram account and that is our main platform—it’s where we started and we really feel that loyalty. But we’re also building a media company here, so we’re also constantly in brainstorming sessions, on phone conferences and in meetings.
Shapiro: As best friends and business partners, how do you work so well together?
Kramer: We are really good at stepping up when the other can’t and just try and not be too out of contact, unless it’s a 911. And we only physically work together three days a week. The other days are remote.
Lowell Smokes, Diamond and Kramer’s pre-roll of choice.
Courtesy: Lowell Herb Co.
Shapiro: How do you like to get high? Any favorite products?
Diamond: It really depends on what vibe we are going for. I appreciate a good edible—especially Dr. Norm’s chocolate chip cookies if we are in California. But mainly, we just love smoking flower out of a good old-fashioned bong. We’re traveling to Los Angeles a lot for business now and have a little tradition that after we get settled at the hotel, our first stop is MedMen to pick up a pack of Lowell Smokes and then head straight to Venice Beach to smoke a joint.
Kramer: Obviously, we still don’t have dispensaries in New York, so there’s something special about walking into one for us and have this informative, legal transaction. There is not a feeling of inherent shadiness, worry and anxiety that we still feel at home [when buying cannabis]. We’re very similar in what we like because we are together so often when we are smoking cannabis. Vape pens became a huge thing for me when I was still in school because they were so easy and discreet. I like Beboe a lot. But we appreciate the act of smoking and that ritual of it best.
Shapiro: What celebs do you want to have a smoke session with most?
Diamond: Chelsea Handler. She’s not on board [in following @CommentsbyCelebs] yet! And Chris Noth. He posted a photo recently smelling a bag of weed and had the best clapback. We were like, “Hallelujah!”
Kramer: Andy Cohen would be amazing, too.
Shapiro: As young entrepreneurs, are you worried at all about being vocal cannabis advocates?
Kramer: The stigma still exists and we have the power to be a voice behind it. The way we approach it through our account is, in its own small way, helping to remove the stereotype to show that it’s appropriate for other social media accounts to talk about it, too. Collectively, we can have an impact on the many challenges and issues surrounding legalization.
Diamond: No, honestly not at all. We made a conscious decision whether or not we were going to be open about that. It’s a big part of our lives and we see nothing wrong with it. Alcohol is not our thing. My mom passed away from cancer last summer and marijuana really helped her. I saw it first hand in my own home. Of course it’s used for fun, but there are also real medicinal benefits that she experienced and I witnessed. It’s not something I am shy about and clearly, it is not affecting our productivity and the success of our business.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.