This Day In Internet History – March 30, 2007: Philosoraptor

Coub

Greetings, Internet historians! Today we celebrate Philosoraptor, everyone’s favorite Cretaceous deep thinker. 

Are you brave enough to participate in our Philosoraptor Battle Royale? Think deeply, dear reader, and choose a winner in each category!


Philosoraptor was a mega-popular meme in the early 2010’s, featuring an illustration of a velociraptor (get it?) combined with life’s deepest/silliest thoughts. The first Philosraptor popped up on March 30, 2007, looking like this:

Know Your Meme

But, in time, the image changed to the illustration of the contemplative raptor that we all know so well today, created by visual artist Sam Smith. The definitive version of the meme took hold of the Internet around 2009 and multiplied to a worldwide sensation.

Some misguided soul even wrote a song about it.

These days, Philosoraptor is considered a classic internet meme.

imgflip

Happy anniversary, Philosoraptor!

 

 

 

This Day In Internet History – March 20, 2005: Chuck Norris Facts

Military.com

Powerful, rugged, virile, invincible.

These adjectives don’t even come close to describing the manliest beefcake to ever karate kick his way into our hearts, Mr. Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris. Today, we celebrate Chuck Norris “facts” — a series of satirical and exaggerated claims designed to bust our guts and blow our minds about our favorite bearded action star.

Everyone knows at least one Chuck Norris fact, but did you know that the Chuck Norris Facts meme didn’t even start with Chuck Norris? It started with, believe it or not, Vin Diesel. In 2005, Diesel was the action star of the moment. However, on the Internet forum SomethingAwful, commenters vigorously debated whether he was worthy of the praise. According to The Daily Dot, “the forum members began attributing strange ‘facts’ to Diesel, funny but impossible feats of strength, intelligence, and prowess.”

On March 20, 2005, a Vin Diesel random fact generator was created, but Diesel just wasn’t a powerful enough figure in our culture’s imagination to merit the honor. It was a disaster, and only one person could save the day: Chuck Motherflippin’ Norris. When Diesel was replaced with Mr. Delta Force himself, the meme went berserk. Thirteen years later, it is legendary.

Let’s celebrate with some of our favorite Chuck Norris facts!

This Day In Internet History – Feb. 17, 2001: O RLY

Know Your Meme

Greetings, Internet historians! I am RLY excited to share today’s lesson with you.

Giphy

Yes, RLY! Today’s lesson involves an owl, some trolls, a computer virus, and Barbra Streisand — all wrapped up in the meme known as “O RLY.”

If you’re having trouble reading it, “O RLY” is an abbreviation of “Oh, really?”

 

A Brief History of O RLY

Seventeen years ago on this day, professional photographer John White published an image of a snowy owl looking, as he put it, “silly.” 

Why is the owl making that ludicrous face? According to White, it was cooling down after a particularly vigorous flight. It was panting, kind of like a dog.

Photograph by John White

White didn’t know it at the time, but the aviary subject of his photograph was destined for Internet stardom. Only, not for four more years.

In the meantime, it was 2001 — the era of online message boards. Yes, dark days — dark days, indeed. And what did people do on online message boards? They were sarcastic. They said dumb things to each other and responded with incredulity, saying things like “Ohhhhh, realllllly?” 

According to Know Your Meme, the phrase “O RLY” can be traced back to early 2003 on the forum of Something Awful, “where it was used as a deadpan response to anything you found doubtful, unimpressive or just plain dull.” I can’t think of any better adjectives to describe online message boards.

From the message boards of Something Awful, this is the first known instance of O RLY

Still, it wasn’t until 2005 that the O RLY retort found its soulmate in the image of John White’s snowy owl, on the imageboard website 4chan. That’s when an anonymous user overlaid the image with bold, white text, resulting in this gem:

Know Your Meme

Perhaps in part due to its simplicity, the O RLY image caught on with 4chan users instantly. They used it to respond sarcastically to posts not only on 4chan, but on multiple other forums, thus catalyzing its spread far and wide.

Over a short amount of time, the meme became synonymous with low-level trolling, and eventually spawned over 9,000 different iterations.

Some of the most popular O RLY versions are:

Gangsta Owl

Bodybuilding.com

O RLY Baby

Giphy

O’Reilly O RLY

Uncyclopedia

Two Controversies? O RLY?!

A couple of controversies involving O RLY led first to its ubiquitousness, then to its demise.

First Controversy: The Streisand Effect

When O RLY merchandise went on sale in 2005, photographer John White got a little miffed that he wasn’t receiving royalties. He decided to make his opinion known publicly. However, in the process of chastising popular bloggers for stealing his photograph, White found himself victim to the Barbra Streisand effect — by trying to censor the meme, he accidentally brought extra attention to it, thus making it more popular than ever.

Streisand effect aside, the craze didn’t last long. Why? My guess is, it had something to do with the virus.

Second Controversy: The Virus

In 2006, tons of computers got infected with a worm known as W32/Hoots-A. How did the virus work? Essentially, invasive malware sent pictures of the O RLY meme to the infected user’s printer, nonstop. Yeah, it’s fair to say people got pretty sick of it after that. Search queries for O RLY dropped to nearly zero within months.

Thus, the meme was over.

Still, it is used from time to time in today’s internet culture by people who want to come across as not only sarcastic, but extremely ironic. Kind of like a Nobel Laureate wearing a t-shirt that says “Jenius.”

TL;DR

What, you didn’t read all of that?

Giphy

Alright, you friggin’ slouch. Here are the main points, in recipe form:

  • Take one picture of exhausted owl
  • Stir in sarcastic message board users
  • Combine until meme
  • Bake with the heat of the photographer’s ire
  • Destroy it all with a virus

And, voilà! You’ve made an O RLY meme.

Okay, class. For homework tonight, think about how nothing represents internet culture better than loving something and then immediately hating it with the same fervor.

 

This Day In Internet History – Feb. 12, 2011: Deal With It

(Imgur/tycarnahan)

Alright, internet historians. Limber up because this one involves sport.

I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase “Deal with it.” It’s the ultimate three-worded slogan of dismissiveness. And it’s even better in sunglasses.

4GIFS.com

We’ll get into the origin of “Deal with it,” but that’s not what we’re celebrating today. No, this is the seven-year anniversary of when internet culture merged with one of America’s favorite traditions, poor sportsmanship.

The Incident

On Saturday, February 12, 2011, Ohio State University beat Wisconsin University in a basketball game. It happens, right? What occurred next was not so expected. The crowd swarmed the court. A demonstrative Wisconsin fan made his dissatisfaction known by spitting — yes, spitting — on OSU’s star freshman, Jared Sullinger. Come on, dude. That’s uncalled for!

But, apparently, Wisconsin team coach Bo Ryan didn’t think the saliva rocket was such a faux pas. In a press conference following the game, Ryan dismissed the incident, saying “All I know is, we won the game. Deal with it.”

Wisconsin’s expressive coach, Bo Ryan. | Giphy

You probably guessed that that wasn’t the end of it. Good job, detective! On March 7th, 2011, #DealWithIt became a trending topic on Twitter when Ohio State University fans flipped the script on Wisconsin’s home turf. The OSU student section displayed support for their basketball team with over 1,000 red embroidered towels that read “DEAL WITH IT.”

OSU’s “DEAL WITH IT” rags. | Know Your Meme

That day, Ohio State crushed Wisconsin, 93-65. In your face, Bo Ryan!

A Brief History of “Deal With It”

With the sports connection behind us, let’s explore the history of the phrase. In 2005, Matt Furie, creator of Feels Good Man, posted this gross webcomic.

Matt Furie’s webcomic, “Feels Good Man.” 2005 | MySpace

I don’t know if it’s worse to get spat on by a rival fan or farted at mid-meditation by a furry bipedal creature. You be the judge. (Side note: Matt Furie is the same artist who created Pepe the Frog, but he later killed the character off when he became synonymous with the alt-right.)

Not long after the comic was published, the “smug dog” animated GIF was posted on SomethingAwful, and the meme took life.

Matt Furie’s original “Deal with it” GIF | SomethingAwful

As the years passed, creative people posted many iterations of the meme, usually in GIF form.

Giphy

 

GIFAK.net

 

Photographer Chris Clanton made real-life GIFS

High School Musical’s Corbin Bleu made a conspicuously sunglasses-less music video. I do not recommend it.

And the most iconic version of the “Deal with it” meme? This dude casually cascading across a Slip ‘N Slide (with sunglasses added digitally in post). This one gets me every single time.

4GIFs.com

And there you go! I hope you learned a little something about sportsmanship, pop culture history, and silly GIFs today. Oh, you didn’t learn anything? Tough break, pal!

Speed Society

This Day In Internet History — January 23, 2012: Bad Luck Brian Blows Up

(Know Your Meme)

Six years ago on this day, a photo that was deemed “too bad of a picture for the high school yearbook” caught the attention of the Internet, where it has since resulted in, one assumes, at least a billion ROFLs.

This is the story of the meme called Bad Luck Brian.

The Main Event
On January 23rd, 2012, the picture of a gangly, ill-dressed sophomore was submitted to Reddit with the caption, “Takes driving test . . . gets first DUI.” The post wasn’t immediately a hit. It didn’t even receive 5 up votes.

The first ever Bad Luck Brian meme | Buzzfeed

But, like so much exquisite art, it inspired creativity in others. A few hours later, someone had recaptioned the photo, “Tries to stealthily fart in class . . . shits.” The pants-pooping joke caught a bit more traction than the DUI joke, receiving over 3,000 up votes.

KnowYourMeme

In March, meme-sharing website 9gag got ahold of Bad Luck Brian, where it finally blew up, garnering more than 48,000 likes in under 24 hours. In a matter of days, it was all over Pinterest, Buzzfeed, and Funny or Die.

MemeExplorer

The Internet absolutely loved memeing Bad Luck Brian with “embarrassing and tragic occurrences.” The image quickly became a template on Quickmeme, with over 100,000 interactions in just a few weeks. It was truly a meme for the people, by the people.

Smosh
The Rhetoric of Memes
MetalInjection.net

The Story Behind Bad Luck Brian
Who is Bad Luck Brian? And just how awkward is he, really? Bad Luck Brian is actually named Kyle Craven. He’s a full-grown man with a job in construction, a family, and a dog, living in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Surprising, huh? You thought he was just some dweeb in a picture who maybe crapped his pants in school, but no. He’s a real dude. And even more surprising? He’s not awkward at all.

Look, he’s a parent like you! | All-That-Is-Interesting

Craven says the yearbook photo was meant to be silly from the very beginning. “I took the picture as a joke back in the day,” Kyle tells All-That-Is-Interesting.com. “I didn’t really look that awful. I rubbed my eyes, made the goofy smile, wore the vest and all that.”

But his mischievousness rubbed the authorities the wrong way. The high school principal called him out of class to reprimand him for ruining his own yearbook photo. “She pulled me out of class and told me to go to retakes,” says Craven. Apparently, “it was too bad of a picture for the yearbook.”

It’s plain to see that Kyle has the spirit of a jokester. There’s enough evidence in place to believe his story about being in on the prank. Check out these silly photos from around the same time.

Alright, Kyle. We believe you. | All-That-Is-Interesting

Luckily, his friend, Ian, uncovered a copy of the rejected yearbook photo a few years later, in his early twenties. Realizing he had a gem on his hands, he uploaded it to the Web and called Kyle right away, reportedly telling him, “Hey man, no big deal, I just made you Internet famous.”

Good Luck, Brian
Kyle Craven is cool with internet fame. He’s even tried his hand at merchandising, but admits that T-shirts and stuffed dolls didn’t turn out to be the cash cows he had hoped. Ultimately, he has decided to just be satisfied with being a recognizable character online, while focusing on his job and family in real life.

He says his favorite versions of the Bad Luck Brian memes aren’t the poop references or crass jokes, but the ones that present a clever story with economical language. Here’s his number one:

QuickMeme

Let’s close it out with a quote from Kyle about the nature of celebrity in modern times.

“You think back 30 years ago to who was famous and they are movie stars or the president. [Younger generations] love social media and Internet content. It’s amazing how many younger people you talk to are talking about Instagramers and YouTubers. It’s broadening the category of being a celebrity today.”

(Quote from All-That-Is-Interesting.com.)

Happy anniversary, Bad Luck Brian!

 

This Day In Internet History — January 15, 2006: The Dancing Baby Becomes A Granddaddy (Of Memes)

(YouTube/uninvitedinno)

Greetings, Internet historians! Some of you may remember a little television show from 1997 called Ally McBeal (come on, it was only 21 years ago). When you think of that show, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’ll wait.

If you didn’t say “that stupid dancing baby,” then you’re a damn liar.

Don’t get me wrong, Ally was a compelling protagonist — and who didn’t love the frequent cameos from theme song performer Vonda Shepard? We all loved all that shit. 

Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart with theme song performer Vonda Shephard (Credit: 45worlds.com)

But the thing that stuck in the deepest recesses of our craws was the animated dancing baby, AKA Baby Cha-Cha, AKA Oogachaka Baby (I swear to God I’m not making these up).

Baby Cha-Cha (Credit: Giphy)

When Ally McBeal tanked, the baby didn’t get thrown out with the bathwater. In fact, to this day, Baby Cha-Cha holds a revered place in Internet history. Called “the granddaddy of memes,” the dancing baby was one of the first ever GIFs, as well as a pioneer of what it means to go viral.

A Brief History of Dancing Baby

The story of how the dancing baby got on the Internet is actually a fascinating peek into the history of modern technologies.  

Back in 1996, animators Michael Girard and Robert Lurye developed Baby Cha-Cha as a product sample to demonstrate what their 3D character animation software could do. Why they chose to create a weird dancing baby and not, say, a sick as hell werewolf snapping zombies in half and firing a machine gun at a blood-red moon, is beyond me. But, okay, a dancing baby. Fine. Cool. Whatever.

Impressed by the 3D animation, Ron Lussier of LucasFilms fixed up the file and emailed it to a slew of co-workers. They, in turn, forwarded it to their pals, and so on. I’ll beg the reader to remember a time before Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, etc., when people actually had to EMAIL interesting things to each other.

Dear Meg Ryan, You’ve gotta see this dancing baby!!! (Credit: Giphy)

It didn’t take long before the baby danced into email inboxes all around the country. Says Lussier, “I heard people say they had received it back again from people outside the company, across the country…it quickly traveled to the Internet and became the strange phenomenon that it was.”

Then, the dancing baby became one of the first ever GIFs. Perhaps even THE first. Web developer John Woodell, whom I will now call a “GIF pioneer” created a compressed animated file from the source, to demonstrate a new technology that converted moving images into GIFs. By the way, GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, and you can pronounce it any way you damn well please.

Credit: Giphy

And that’s when Ally McBeal got hold of it. Used as a metaphor, the dancing baby appeared often on the show as a hallucination, meant to represent McBeal’s biological clock. (I found out recently that the character of Ally was ONLY 27 YEARS OLD! Come on, The Patriarchy, give a lady some time!) The baby usually sashayed along to Blue Swede’s cover of the B. J. Thomas song “Hooked on a Feeling.”

Since Ally McBeal averaged about 12 million viewers per episode, the dancing baby immediately became a superstar. Its image was brandished on merchandise and parodies swept the cultural landscape. Even The Simpsons did a take on it, called “Dancing Jesus.”

Credit: YouTube

Baby Granddaddy

On January 15th, 2006, some horrible person uploaded a video to YouTube called “Oogachaka Baby,” enabling people to watch the dancing baby at their leisure. The video gathered over 3.3 million views, prompting The Washington Post to call it “the granddaddy of Internet memes.” But, in my opinion, it’s a crime that not all of the 1,300 YouTube comments said: “please remove this immediately.”

Credit: YouTube

Don’t worry, the good news is that the dancing baby swiftly declined in popularity. People stopped feverishly searching the term “dancing baby” near the turn of the 21st Century, or, when they did, they meant to see actual footage of real babies dancing. Still, it’s not hard to stumble into long-running fan sites, like dancing-baby.net.

Shake Your Booty Into The Sunset

Let’s close it out with a quote from Ron Lussier (Remember him? He’s the one who emailed the dancing baby to all his friends in 1996). This comes directly from the FAQ section on his fan site.

Q: That baby is so stupid and ugly! Why did you do that?

A: I’m glad it bothers people. I think that’s cool!  🙂   I fixed up the file because I thought it was really bothersome in a cool way, but also bothersome in a crappy unfinished way. I tried to, at least partially, finish it. That’s my “enhanced” version you used to see on many web pages.

Thanks a lot, Ron! See you in hell, buddy!

This Day In Internet History – December 6, 2004: Numa Numa Is Born

(YouTube)

On this day in 2004, a New Jersey man named Gary Brolsma procured for himself something we all long for: Immense fame simply for being a silly goof on the internet. But, like a wish upon a cursed monkey’s paw, it came with a price.

When Gary (or whoever got ahold of the video) pressed the upload button on Newgrounds in December of 2004, did he know that by doing so he would become a viral legend? Did he know that dancing and lip-syncing to the song “Dragostea din tei” by the Moldovan pop group O-Zone would make people freak out with laughter and inspire countless parody videos? Probably not. But he did it anyway. The man took a chance.

(YouTube)

This video, which has over 27 million views, is, as The New York Times puts it, earnest but painful.

A Brief History of Numa Numa

Gary Brolsma was 19 years old when the video hit. And it hit hard. In fewer than three months after its release, it had been viewed more than two million times on Newgrounds. Then it ballooned up to 18 million. From there, the video was copied and shared on countless websites. By November of 2006, Numa Numa was the second most-watched viral video of all time, with over 700 million views.

According to Brolsma, his mom woke him up one day when she discovered news vans from CBS, NBC and ABC parked outside their house. She didn’t know about the video, and thought her son had gotten himself into trouble. No, mom, your boy just went viral.

In a whirlwind of press coverage, Brolsma made appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Tonight Show, and VH1’s Best Week Ever. The Numa Numa video was ranked number 1 on VH1s Top 40 Internet Superstars.

But the attention got to be too much. Brolsma didn’t know how to deal with his unexpected launch to celebrity. The New York Times revealed that he was an “unwilling and embarrassed Web celebrity.” He canceled an appearance on NBC’s Today, in favor of isolating himself to seek refuge from fame. He stopped taking phone calls. He quietly sulked around his home.

He didn’t stay down forever.

A supportive story in The Believer made the case that the Numa Numa video “singlehandedly justifies the existence of webcams… It’s a movie of someone who is having the time of his life, wants to share his joy with everyone, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks”.

The story goes on, “Everyone wanted to be the Numa Numa Guy—to feel that un-self-consciously self-conscious joy he felt in his body, flailing around in his chair and lip-synching a stupid pop song in a language he didn’t understand.

He may be shy, but there’s no question that Brolsma is an entertainer. His video made people laugh and forget their troubles for a while.

Time Goes On

Brolsma says he “wasn’t big on fame.” The attention got to be relentless. Still, he made the best of it.

In an interview with C-Net, he says his life essentially went back to normal after the fame died down. He has retained his small group of friends, and it’s thrilling when people stop him and ask for a picture. The marriage proposals are flattering, too.

Brolsma came back in September, 2006 with a professionally produced video, this time using a song written for him by Variety Beats.

New Numa 

(YouTube)

Then he teamed up with some other viral video stars for the “Numa Numa” 10-year reunion. 

(YouTube)

The man certainly knows how to milk it!

Parody Videos and Tributes

Numa Numa on South Park.

(YouTube)

I thought this was Britney Spears. It’s not.

(YouTube)

I don’t really know what this is but it has over 3 million views so who am I to judge?

(YouTube)

I hate this.

(YouTube)

Maybe don’t show this to your kids.

(YouTube)

Speaking of kids.

(YouTube)

So that’s the story of Numa Numa, one of the first viral videos ever.

Let’s close it out on some solid advice from the Numa Numa man. “If you’re doing something and your intention is to be funny and you’re not having fun yourself, it’s not going to work out.”

Now let’s all get out there and dance our weird hearts out!

This Day In Internet History – November 27, 2008: Thanksgiving Gets Rickrolled

(YouTube/brianstk)

Greetings, internet historians! You may remember a trend from the previous decade called “Rickrolling.” That’s right, I said “decade.” Yes, it seems like only yesterday that I attempted to open a video called Bert & Ernie Exclusive Kissing Footage, only to be cruelly redirected to footage of Rick Astley shimmying in front of a microphone. Alas, it was not yesterday. It was 10 ago that Rickrolling reached its apogee.

The Main Event

On November 27, 2008, the man himself, Rick Astley, took the entire Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by surprise when he suddenly appeared on the Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends float, singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.” For one brief, wondrous moment, it was like the entire country had been duped into clicking a prank link.

If you listen closely, you can hear a monster yelling, “I like Rickrolling!” at the end of the video. Well, bud, that makes one of us.

A Brief History of Rickrolling

On July 27, 1987, Rick Astley blessed the world with a sorta-soulful-mostly-cheesy, VERY catchy pop song called “‘Never Gonna Give You Up”. It was the debut song from his debut album. Well, folks, it was a hit. The song raced up the charts and hit number one in 25 countries, including the United States and Astley’s native United Kingdom.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your musical tastes), it was Astley’s only smash hit.

After the 80s, the song largely disappeared — until 2007. That’s when some prankster at 4chan got ahold of it, attached it to a misleading link that redirected to the music video, and the Rickroll was born.

If you haven’t gotten it yet, Rickrolling means that someone sends you a link for something that you’d be interested in seeing. The link has a disguised URL, so you can’t tell that it’s not actually the video you thought you were going to see. When you click it, you’re taken to the Rick Astley video. Burn!

Yes, it’s stupid. Yes, it’s valueless. What do you want me to say? It’s the internet, dude.

It didn’t take long for Rickrolling to gain steam online. By April Fool’s Day, 2008, it was part of the mainstream. Quite a few media companies Rickrolled themselves that day, including YouTube, which Rickrolled ALL of its featured videos (remember featured videos?!). Furthering the phenomenon, a website named ComedyCalls provided a way for people to Rickroll their friends’ phones.

Only a few weeks later, it was reported by the BBC that about 13 million people had been Rickrolled. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Astley said, “I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it. But that’s what’s brilliant about the internet.”

Proving he was a good sport about the whole thing, Astley leaned right into the unexpected resurgence of the song, and the meme, by pranking us all with the legendary Thanksgiving Day Rickroll.

www.dailydot.com

At current count, “Never Gonna Give You Up” has 374,352,518 views on YouTube. We estimate 374,350,000 of those were Rickrolls.

Get Rickrolled

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the best Rickrolls of all time. Feel free to use these links to trick your friends. They’ve probably forgotten all about this meme by now, so it’s the perfect time to pull one over on those unsuspecting idiots.

Chemistry class gets Rickrolled

The Foo Fighters Rickroll Westborough Baptist Church

Family Guy gets in on the action, as usual

Rick & Morty, too

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi pranks us with cats

Ted Cruz Rickrolls Trump

And my personal favorite, the R2D2 Rickroll

Happy 10-year anniversary to the Thanksgiving Rickroll of 2008!

This Day In Internet History – November 9, 2009: CBS Announces It Will Televise $#*! My Dad Says

Shit My Dad Says
(Twitter/shitmydadsays)

“Twitter got me a sitcom deal.”

Dads say weird stuff. It’s a universal truth. Most of us just get embarrassed in front of our friends, but writer Justin Halpern capitalized on the bizarre crap coming out of his dad’s mouth by creating a Twitter account called @ShitMyDadSays. To his surprise, the account quickly became a viral phenomenon and gained the interest of executives at CBS when it achieved massive popularity.

Read on to see how it all crumbled to bits!

The Main Event

On November 9, 2009, CBS announced it was developing a television sitcom based on the Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays. After its premiere on September 23, 2010, the series, starring William Shatner, was immediately maligned by critics. Check out these hilarious headlines:

The Pile of $h*! That Was ‘$h*! My Dad Says’ – SplitSider

CBS Quietly Admits the Shit My Dad Says Pilot Was Shit – Gawker

And take a peek at this brutal review, from Slant Magazine’s Kris King:

$#*! My Dad Says is a dismal show, harboring the worst qualities of every lame, four-camera, laugh-tracked sitcom on television. The jokes are painful, the acting is hammy, the characters are flat, and it simply isn’t funny. Ever.

God, I love journalism!

Remember, before it was one of the worst television shows of the modern era, @ShitMyDadSays was actually a wildly successful Twitter account, loved by millions. Let’s trace its rise from obscurity.

A Brief History Of Shit My Dad Says

In August of 2009, semi-employed comedy writer Justin Halpern moved back in with his parents and started Shit My Dad Says simply as a way to document his septuagenarian father’s profanity-laced, oddly wise musings.

It wasn’t long before word got out, thanks in part to comedian Rob Corddry tweeting out the link to a wide audience. Within a month, tweets from Shit My Dad Says were mentioned on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Halpern’s follower count grew into the millions.

Idea-starved executives took notice. First came the book deal. In October of 2009, Halpern signed a deal with HarperCollins Publishers. Upon release, the book topped the bestseller list for six weeks. Then came the jump to TV. CBS approached Halpern for a television deal just a couple of months after the Twitter account was launched.

The move by CBS represented a newfound willingness for traditional media outlets, like television, to incorporate intellectual property from new media, such as Twitter. Speaking of… has anyone at CBS seen my tweets? They’re worth at least $2 million each, don’t you think? Uh, I’m willing to negotiate.

Where Are They Now?

As I might have mentioned above, the television series wasn’t exactly a homerun. After 18 episodes aired, $#*! My Dad Says (yes, the name was censored) was unceremoniously replaced midseason. It was not renewed.

Perhaps part of the problem was that CBS insisted on making it a multi-camera sitcom with a laugh-track, which didn’t exactly scream “new and innovative storytelling!” Or perhaps it failed because tweets are typically short, pithy, self-contained thoughts–often without an overarching narrative. Whatever the reason, it fucking tanked.

You can still visit @ShitMyDadSays for cranky, profanity-laced rants from Justin’s father, although it is rarely updated these days. At the time of writing, the most recent tweet was from May 9, 2017.

And Justin Halpern was savvy enough to leverage the failure of  $#*! My Dad Says as a platform to launch a successful screenwriting career, with credits on Surviving Jack, Cougar Town, and Powerless.

So happy anniversary to the day a hilarious Twitter account got turned into an unfunny television show. Do I sound bitter? I swear, I’m not bitching.

This Day In Internet History – November 2, 2010: Keyboard Cat Goes Mainstream

(Keyboard Cat/YouTube)

Greetings, internet historians! Let’s take a look back at a significant occurrence from seven years ago, when everyone’s favorite chill meme, Keyboard Cat, hit the paydirt. We caught up with the Keyboard Cat’s owner for an interview (seriously). But first…

The Main Event

On November 2, 2010, a 15 second ad featuring Keyboard Cat aired during the World Series. Oddly enough, it was for pistachios. Pistachios are not necessarily what I think of when I think of hugely lucrative businesses, but, according to Keyboard Cat creator Charlie Schmidt, “it’s been very profitable.”

The year 2010 saw Keyboard Cat at her absolute zenith. She had struck gold. But, oh, how quickly our idols come undone. In the ensuing years, Keyboard Cat has all but disappeared. Who knows where she is now? Well, I do. And I’ll tell you! We caught up with her owner Charlie Schmidt for an exclusive interview. But first, a brief history.

A History of Keyboard Cat

The internet has always been crazy for cats, but this cat was special. This cat was a musician. This cat wore a blue shirt.

The original Keyboard Cat was a cute little feline lady named Fatso, who tickled the ivories way back in 1984. About 23 years later, a video clip of Fatso found its way onto My Damn Channel, where it was appended to humiliating blooper clips (“An old man kicked in the groin? LOL play him off, Keyboard Cat!”). More recent incarnations, including the pistachios ad, feature (imposter alert!) a cat named Bento.

Before she threw away all her lo-fi punk rock integrity to star on broadcast television, Keyboard Cat was a bona fide internet sensation. See for yourself.

Man Falls Off Treadmill (Play him off, Keyboard Cat!)

Miss Teen South Carolina Doesn’t Know Geography (Play her off, Keyboard Cat!)

Ron Livingston Parodies Keyboard Cat (Play her off, guy from Office Space!)

The current incarnation of Keyboard Cat lives in Spokane, Washington, with inventor, artist, and cat trainer Charlie Schmidt. I tracked down Charlie to ask a few questions about his most famous protégé.

Mark: What was your opinion of the pistachios commercial?

Charlie: Killer.

Mark: Do you think Fatso would have liked it?

Charlie: No doubt it would have made her purr.

Mark: What was the process like?

Charlie: Trying to recreate random on purpose is no easy task. About as hard as recreating on purpose randomly.

Mark: What are some of your favorite reactions to Keyboard Cat?

Charlie: The first time babies laugh while watching KBC, junkies getting clean with motivation from KBC, so many people really appreciating momentary happiness.

Mark: How does/did Keyboard Cat deal with fame?

Charlie: There have been ups and downs, kind of like Brian Wilson. There are a few videos about his struggles. He lives here with 3 other male cats. There is definitely animosity about it all. Bottom line is he is a true professional when the camera is rolling.

Mark: What does Keyboard Cat want from us?

Charlie: Keyboard Cat wants you to smile and create and be nice. Seek your Inner Radish.

(Charlie Schmidt)

There you have it, folks. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that you can hit it big by being an iconic cat. So remember this day as the anniversary of the world wide web’s greatest feline talent abandoning all artistic integrity to score a huge paycheck — and to, uh, seek inner radish. Play yourself off, Keyboard Cat!

Check out Charlie Schmidt’s store at https://www.zazzle.com/charlieschmidt. Treat yourself to a cool t-shirt.