I was in year four in 2005 when YouTube launched. My friends and I were just tentatively buying our first CDs with our own pocket money. Some of us had pen pals, some of us had Nintendo DS consoles.
I first encountered YouTube the following year, and my life was unavoidably different after that. By 2008, I was that particular pre-teen who had the lyrics to the Candy Mountain song from Charlie the Unicorn completely memorised. I’m not exactly proud of that, but it’s not fair to say that I’m ashamed, either.
I’ve always found social media more intimidating than entertaining, in the public-facing sense. But low-stakes comedy on the internet? Magnifique. Formative. Essential. Joyous. I would love to share some with you now. I confess I’ve been building a shortlist on the notes app of my phone for some time in case the opportunity to write this article ever presented itself.
In no particular order:
1. Uh Oh Y’all
Just thinking about this tweet makes me laugh. It is so simple and so absurd.
The delight in discovering the implied rhyme of hazy/Swayze. The image of a person doing this every time they have one too many drinks, their friends no longer entertained by it, the stakes so low and yet the issue so unsolvable. Delicious.
2. Oskaar gives his thoughts about daylight saving
This 2009 video message, ostensibly sent to a man named Dave in Western Australia by his cousin Oskaar in Iceland railing against the daylight savings debate in Australia at the time, is an absolute classic. Oskaar, in complete darkness, struggling with his camera, a man driven by passion and outrage, pleading with people half a world away to save their daylight, begging them to see sense as he flails in front of a freezing pitch-black ocean: “If I had your hour I would RIP it from your HANDS!”
This is a video that I come back to multiple times a year. Having grown up in the ACT, enjoying daylight savings my entire life, I feel for Oskaar’s position. An image that will never leave me; the tone of voice in which Oskaar says, “Think about me, Dave,” his face filling the screen, the face of a man reckoning with the absurdity of a nation of people to whom daylight is an infinite resource.
3. Steamed Hams Inc
The foundational comedic influence of The Simpsons cannot be argued with, and I don’t know anyone who would want to try. While the rich history of meme-ing The Simpsons is long and ongoing, one of my favourite traditions in the art form is mucking around with Steamed Hams. Perhaps you recall: Principal Skinner has invited Superintendent Chalmers to his and his mother’s house for lunch (his mother is not invited to lunch). What follows is an endlessly quotable romp of misfortune that results in Skinner’s mother’s house burning down.
Which brings us to this video: a recreation of Steamed Hams cut up and pasted back together to the tune of English virtual band Gorillaz’s 2005 hit song Feel Good Inc.
There is so much to love about this video. Far apart from anything else, it’s one of the most impressive pieces of audio editing I’ve ever heard in my life. Every single sound used to recreate Feel Good Inc is a sound lifted from the scene in question; there are no shortcuts here, and it is a demonstration of an extremely skilled and deft hand. The first time I saw it, I had it stuck in my head for a week. Five stars.
4. Garfield Minus Garfield
Garfield Minus Garfield, created by Dan Walsh in 2008, is wonderful in its simplicity and execution. The title is self-explanatory; these are Garfield strip comics with Garfield edited out. What we are left with is Jon Arbuckle, human, on his own, and it turns out there’s a strong possibility that he’s having a nervous breakdown. My older brother was the one to show me Garfield Minus Garfield, and like all comedic gifts from an older sibling, it will be with me forever.
5. Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar
This is a very specific edit of the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me. Several of my friends will recognise it; I show this to people at the drop of a hat. I have played this from friend’s car speakers without warning; I have coopted DJ privileges to blast this at other people’s houses mid-gathering; I have made people promise to sing this version of the song with me at karaoke. I won’t spoil it. It’s going to get stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
6. Wasp Mom Goes to the Nail Salon
Caitlin Reilly is a genius. Specialising in character comedy, her recurring Wasp Mom is a favourite of mine, and this is my favourite appearance of hers.
This woman exists and we’ve all seen her; her cadence is captured perfectly here. If you find yourself wandering around the house saying “The nut? The NUT?” over and over again to yourself, never fear. That happened to me as well.
7. Chris Fleming’s WUG
There is something so delightful about watching this for the first time and realising what WUG stands for when you first get to the chorus, so I’ll do my best not to spoil it. Suffice to say that this song, nay, anthem, is a Chris Fleming original that’s honestly a balm to me whenever I’m struggling to come out the other side of a less-than-pleasant social interaction.
This video has everything; it’s funny, it’s real, it’s an absolute banger. I could watch Chris Fleming play a man struggling to fit his hands in his pockets all day. A particular shoutout to LaQuandra Seymore and Brian Heveron-Smith, both of whom make this track soar. “Fair Enougher” as a descriptor of a person is in my vocabulary now and it’s here to stay.
8. Karma Got Its Kiss for Me
This video, originally posted on Twitter in 2017, no longer exists in its original form. This re-upload to YouTube is titled “Girl Has Breakdown Over Ticket” but in my heart, when I think of this video, it’s always “Karma Got Its Kiss For Me”. What an expression! What an idea! What a motif! We see a young woman in crisis, tipped over the edge by the receipt of a driving infraction for failing to pull over for an emergency vehicle, something she was not aware she had to do.
This video, to me, encapsulates perfectly the experience of entering adulthood and being anything but ready for the systems you’re accountable to and the responsibilities you suddenly have. I, too, have been told off for things I wasn’t aware were required of me! I, too, am insecure about my hairline sometimes! I, too, make punchlines of my panic while helplessly sitting in the feeling that everything is happening at once and I can’t do anything about any of it! And haven’t we all? Have not we all been exactly where this poor person is, crying in the backseat of a car, aware of your own absurdity but powerless to do anything about it, while your friends tease you from the front seat as an indirect expression of care? Literally go off, queen.
9. “EMERGENCY!!! THERE’S A NEW ONE!!!!!!”
Poetry. Excellent timing, excellent camerawork, excellent concept.
10. Zendaya is Meechee
Full disclosure: while the movie in question was airing, after this video was made, I would sometimes find myself walking past the particular posters that Gabriel Gundacker performs this jingle in front of, and as such this video is lodged in my prefrontal cortex for the rest of time.
How exactly does a person articulate what’s so appealing about this? Is it that the melody is really good? Yes, but that’s not everything. Is it that stringing together the actor’s names and characters as displayed on these posters to form sentences that make lyrics is funny? Yes, of course. But why? What exactly is so captivating about Zendaya is Meechee? It’s something about advertising, I think, and something about the earnestness with which this song is performed. Zendaya is Meechee. LeBron James is Gwangi. Danny Devito is Dorgle. What more is there to say?
• You can find Liv Hewson on Twitter, catch them in the indie film Under My Skin, and in The Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix.