Photos: How Do You Translate Memes Into Live Stand-up?

Photos: How Do You Translate Memes Into Live Stand-up?

Meme makers are taking their subject matter and talents to a surprising place: the stage.

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An IRL meme from Touching Grass.
An IRL meme from Touching Grass.
Photo: Courtesy of Alex Rubin

Instagram’s meme makers are taking their talents to a surprising place: the stage. But more so than the static images they post, their shows  resemble stand-up comedy.

Memers explained to Gizmodo how they translate online humor into IRL shows.

“There are a lot of things that people laugh at online that they don’t laugh at on a screen live,” said Annie Rauwerda, who runs @DepthsofWikipedia on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, explained. “When you have this person up there reacting to internet humor or adding to it or showing what part is funny as some sort of audience surrogate, that can be helpful.”

“A lot of stand-up is just showing up at a bar, so you have to talk about more normal things. With memes, people get excited to hear about Big Chungus and stuff like that. If you go to a bar and say ‘Big Chungus,’ half the people won’t know what that is,” said Tony Zaret, who runs @tonyzaret on Instagram, said. “People online, they want to hear more references to things like YouTubers and video games. At a stand-up comedy club, you can’t talk about that because there are more people that enjoy leaving their houses. They want to hear about things like marriage.”

Click through to see pictures of memers putting on live shows, three in particular: Touching Grass, a variety show staged in Philadelphia in late 2022; a punk art show in Baltimore that featured a meme cake as well as music and more traditional visual art; and @DepthsofWikipedia’s live show in New York City in December 2022.

“Touching Grass was sort of like a meet and greet, sort of like a rave. We were calling it a meme art show,” said Joelle Bouchard, who runs @namaste.at.home.dad. “It gives you a chance to come meet the people that you’ve had this parasocial relationship with online. We have a ton of fans, but we seem so intangible to them.”

“It’s like the newborn baby of art and comedy,” she added.

If you want to read more about shows themselves, Gizmodo published an in-depth story on the trend last week.

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A meme from Touching Grass

A meme from Touching Grass

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Photo: Courtesy Joelle Bouchard
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RIP 2009

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Photo: Courtesy Joelle Bouchard
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Meme: “I just wanna like go crazy and staple my nuts to a wall at a super hipster party one day”


Meme: “I just wanna like go crazy and staple my nuts to a wall at a super hipster party one day”

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Photo: Courtesy Joelle Bouchard
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Ena Da, aka @park_slope_arsonist

Ena Da, aka @park_slope_arsonist

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Memers vibing at Touching Grass

Memers vibing at Touching Grass

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A memer DJing at Touching Grass

A memer DJing at Touching Grass

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Memers selling merch at Touching Grass

Memers selling merch at Touching Grass

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Soylent sponsored the Philadelphia show

Soylent sponsored the Philadelphia show

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Some memers wore costumes

Some memers wore costumes

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Memers vibing :)


Memers vibing :)

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12 / 26


Memers vibing :)


Memers vibing :)

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A meme cake from a Baltimore art show created by @venerealdisneys

A meme cake from a Baltimore art show created by @venerealdisneys

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Photo: Courtesy Alex Rubin
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RIP the cake, someone grabbed a handful of it at the end of the show

RIP the cake, someone grabbed a handful of it at the end of the show

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The @DepthsofWikipedia live show in New York City in December 2022

The @DepthsofWikipedia live show in New York City in December 2022

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Photo: Blake Montgomery/Gizmodo
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There exists a list of sexually active popes

There exists a list of sexually active popes

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The shape of a Pringle

The shape of a Pringle

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“Throbber”

“Throbber”

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“Straight ally”


“Straight ally”

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The host tasked an audience member with creating a “Pringle Ringle”

The host tasked an audience member with creating a “Pringle Ringle”

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A bagpiper closed the show


A bagpiper closed the show

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In what sense did you mean “Is the Pope Catholic?”


In what sense did you mean “Is the Pope Catholic?”

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The sound of the internet


The sound of the internet

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I prefer my bread with motion blur

I prefer my bread with motion blur

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That’s all, folks!

That’s all, folks!

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