Naaman Zhou: the funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet)

·6 min read

In ancient Rome, a large rectangular space known as the forum was the centre of public life. Before the city, it was a marsh. They drained it and made it a meeting place, between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. People did things, built things, engaged in the daily business of speaking to each other. Now, most of it is in ruins.

Today, I have the intense honour of contributing to this now long-running column of funniest things on the internet. Before me, many other funny, plugged-in people have added their own monuments to this increasingly crowded public space. These are mine:

1. Cranky Kong is a widower

I consider fan-made Wikipedia pages to be some of the funniest text online. For some reason, these pages exist for almost every cultural product ever created, including the various Donkey Kong video games. There is something about their syntax that maximally activates the humour cortex of my brain. It’s that level of gravitas, that faux academic tone, applied to various kinds of fictional video game ape.

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2. Walking clock

Now I’m not saying the below clip is funnier, or even as funny, as anything the original golden age of The Simpsons (seasons 2-8) ever produced. But when you have seen as much Simpsons as I have, you have to find new and daring ways to enjoy it. This may not be funny to people who have not seen, or do not remember the original joke. It may not even be funny to those who do. Let’s find out.

3. Olivier Giroud is scared of Alf

I love football. Not just as a sport, but as a social phenomenon. Les Murray famously called it The World Game, and it is so often a nexus for history, geopolitics, culture, and people. Sometimes this expresses itself in the form of the French footballer Olivier Giroud and the American 90s sitcom Alf. When the Guardian put together its interactive of every player at the 2018 World Cup, this is the anecdote they began Giroud’s entry with. I consider it to be some of the most efficiently funny writing ever published.

4. Dogs act

Funny things aren’t relegated simply to well-known tweets, or a viral video – or a French footballer’s fear of an alien that eats cats. They can be an accident, a fleeting moment, an organic interaction observed by you, and only you. This is a celebration of those rare little mushrooms. Hopefully you have your own equivalent.

This is a Facebook comment of pure rage that I happened to see in 2017. I put it to you that it’s the funniest reaction anybody can have to the Bachelor, or really any television show.

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5. Billy Eichner on Ratatouille

It is inherently funny to express an appreciation for the 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille. Many other people have also noticed this. But it wasn’t always like this. Before the Ratatouille renaissance, before Ratatouille the musical, when TikTok was still a sparkle in Vine’s eye, when Remy was still on the garbage heap of the Disney pile, Billy Eichner flew the flag for the much-maligned gastronomically blessed rodent. And this, I believe, is funnier than everything else combined.

6. I came to work on an egg

I beg you to please read this article before reading my explanation. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the dog from barking etc. etc. Click through, read the article then come back.

Related: I came to work on an egg

Written by Guardian Australia’s own Warren Murray, “I came to work on an egg” actually has a very reasonable explanation. It is a reference to a long-running series of adverts from the UK Egg Marketing Board. In fact, many people will see and have no problem with the phrase: “I came to work on an egg.”

Whether you know that or not, it’s brilliant writing. I did not know the context, and it made me giddy with laughter. “Having come to work on a lightly poached egg … I was shocked to learn that it may already be too late for me,” is an opening line that rivals and beats Proust.

7. Two Aussie Drongos

The prank is simple: if you call two people and put them on speakerphone to each other, they will be confused. I watched this clip in 2015, thanks to an expertly-headlined Junkee article, and my friend Sam Langford and I created a Facebook group chat (just for us) called 2 Aussie Drongos that we’ve used ever since. (Language warning.)

8. UK rappers

It’s so great when you can read text in an accent:

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9. Stevie Jacobs being attacked by a pelican

My actual favourite Stevie Jacobs moment is when he is scared by a giant chicken – but Benjamin Law already included that in his 10 funniest things.

Instead, please accept when Stevie Jacobs was attacked by a pelican. Which I discovered when James Colley placed it on his list of Australian news bloopers.

10. Look Around You

In year 9, my science teacher rolled down the projector screen that sat above the whiteboard, told us to stop what we were doing, and showed us this. He did not tell us it was a joke. Look Around You is a surrealist parody of old-school science educational videos, written by Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz for the BBC in 2003.

Kate McCartney has already picked this for her column, and I can’t back it enough. Imagine though, that you are 15 years old, and spend the first two to three minutes thinking it is real. I swear some of us were taking notes. It is a formative and indelible memory for me, as my mind turned in cartwheels, and the slow ripple of confusion and realisation went through the class. It also counts as being “on the internet”, because our teacher showed it to us via YouTube, not the TV, making it perhaps the first viral video I ever saw. An analog precursor to this entire column. Thanks ants (Thants).

Follow Naaman on Twitter @naamanzhou

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