In this article, the simultaneous occurrence of humor and stereotypes in memes is discussed. It is assumed that both humorous elements and stereotypes are well suited for use in memes, as they increase their recognition value. The results show that stereotypes, if taken up in a humorous way, have a highly ambivalent and multifaceted meaning. In addition, we are going to discuss this phenomenon in detail in order to find out more. For example, why are memes effective means of communication and how they can influence our state of well-being. So, let’s browse through 60 funny memes and find out more about the concept behind them! Warning: famous funny memes are included where you least expect it!
Funny Memes Aren’t Simple Amusing Pictures
Funny memes are not just simple pictures that serve as amusement. In them, the ideas about the world in which we live are reflected in many different ways. Funny memes seem to allow a special way of dealing. This is because they are characterized by a decidedly humorous impetus. What explains the success of this Internet phenomenon, namely that it can make people laugh, then becomes problematic when sensitive topics are taken up in memes.
According to Limor Shifman, memes are “circulated, imitated, and transformed by Internet users, creating a shared cultural experience”. In doing so, Shifman chooses a sociological approach that focuses on the communicative aspects of memes. In addition, she clearly focuses on the importance of dissemination and access by internet users.
The author describes memes as “a group of digital entities that share common characteristics in content, form, and / or attitude”. So, memes are always a collection of individual artifacts with similar properties, which also, Shifman said, “are created with awareness of each other”.
Significant elements can be related to a specific image (or image detail), meaningful gestures or facial expressions within the image, a film reference, but also a specific font or content aspect that runs through all units. And, once established, it can also be transformed again.
Significant elements are central to memes in order to do justice to the aspect of being viral. They give funny memes their specific, characteristic form, which defines them first as a group of units. At the same time there must still be room for change within the memes. Although significant images or videos are becoming viral, they can hardly be used as templates for funny memes, as there is hardly any room for change.
How Humor Works in Funny Memes
According to Anton C. Zijderveld, humor is a game with cultural meaning. This can relate to linguistic, logical, emotional or simple everyday aspects. The motives for this can be very different. In addition, they are playfully changed in the least serious mode. Stylistic means such as hyperbolization (exaggeration), escalation and inversion take effect.
Funny Memes With Animals
For example, animals are particularly suitable for the humorous representation of facial expressions and gestures. Grumpy Cat represents bad mood and pessimism. In addition a koala bear looks frightened and wide-mouthed. Therefore, animals have a special humorous potential.
The humanization of animal gestures and facial expressions can easily make a dash to human sensations without letting the relationship seem too realistic. In this way, everyday problems can be excellently illustrated by using exaggerated expressions. At the same time, it also creates a distance to the often tragic, disappointing or sad events described in these memes (for it actually only happens to the depicted animal).
Pop Cultural References in Funny Memes
A similar principle applies to pop cultural references. Even excerpts from well-known films and series are often used in a humorous context. Here, too, usually exaggeration and reversal come as a humorous means to the course. However, gestures and facial expressions gain importance through the context of the film or series to which the reference refers. In most cases, the key points in the plot are particularly funny or tragic moments, which serve as templates to transfer them in everyday situations. Significance is thus gained with the help of pop cultural references, and a humorous gain is achieved through re-contextualization in everyday situations.
When Stereotypes Meet Humor in Memes
Berger assumes that humor acts as a kind of hedging mechanism. The latter allows people to reflect the often unconscious rules and norms in everyday life. Thus, their situation in the dominant everyday world.
The spectrum of this reinsurance ranges from supposedly casual remarks in everyday life to the critical reflection of social conditions in the “great humor” of political satire. If stereotypes also come into play, the first mechanism of the interaction of humor and difference constructions becomes clear. So, two people can make fun of gender stereotypes, maybe exaggerate or playfully reverse them. That’s because both know that they regard these cliches as obsolete.
The Incongruence in Memes Generates Laughter
While serious interaction requires a coherent narrative, humor allows for jumps and digressions. Instead of authentic and true narratives, absurd, completely exaggerated stories can be narrated. Humor often unfolds its effect through an incongruence, that is, the lack of fit between two objects. So, two things are brought together, which – according to the standard of serious communication – do not belong together.
The incongruence brings together things that would not have come together in serious mode, backed up by the playful lightness of humor (“… is just fun”).
Stereotypes are – as already shown – already over-drawn representations. Deppermann / Schmidt also found in their conversational analytical studies that stereotypes are often addressed in the most ruthless mode in order to avoid the seriousness of the topic and to focus more on the aspect of entertaining.
In memes, therefore, the coincidence of humor and stereotypes reveals an enormous ambivalence, which decisively influences their character. Content can be hurtful and subversive at the same time. It can be clear in relation to one aspect and at the same time completely unclear in relation to another. Moreover, humor acts as a kind of creative engine for dealing with the differences in construction, which results in contradictory and multi-layered interpretive offerings.
Humorous Memes vs. the Classic Cabaret
One of the most important techniques of meme makers is re-contextualization. Various contents of the pop culture are combined in such a way that a satirical insult arises. Humor can only be understood if the observer brings along the necessary context of knowledge. If you look at the internet as a stage, you can draw parallels between memes and the classic cabaret.
Parodies and debunking are typical elements with which the memes play. While satire is a sharp weapon of political criticism for cabaret, memes are only conditionally political. Because they have to be understandable very quickly due to the high competition and usually aim only at the quick laugh, you can not tell long stories with them. However, you can certainly read a kind of mood of the Internet community on specific, even political, topics.
The process of satire is no longer reserved for the classic media. Anonymous forums allow creativity without fear of consequences. In most cases, we only get pictures that are widely accepted, otherwise they would not be forwarded and they would disappear from the collective memory of the Internet community. Popular memes allow insights into the topics that are currently occupying the web community.
The Current Context of Funny Memes
To date, memes have evolved significantly. So, we slowly came to the conclusion that memes are not only for schoolchildren. With this understanding, the target audience of memes expanded. They became more complex and their creation was approached more meticulously.
It seems to me that in order to understand how memes will develop in the future, they can be compared with the development of literature and art. For example, when meme creators begin to think of memes as a social phenomenon, we can talk about modernism. Conversely, playing with forms, styles and endless allusions are signs of postmodernism.
The creators of memes now, in fact, are already thinking about this form of the work, experimenting on it. Many are trying to create a meme that will study the meme, while remaining popular.
The Popularity of Humorous Memes
In general, memes are folklore works where the author is not important. They are distributed due to forcing (active promotion), as they are often created on the basis of an information feed. Memes fall between the funny and the important: they use strange news to reflect on the situation.
If you go deeper, memes are like poetry. More specifically, they are concentrated work, both socially sharp and funny. But at the same time they are shorter than a joke and than a poem. A tiny picture or phrase may contain a so much meaning that can actually impress people. They have a high impact force due to their laconic characteristic.
According to the studies made by neuro-physiologists, everything that causes strong emotions (whether it is positive or negative) is much better remembered. Acronyms such as LOL and others – they all remain in our memory because they somehow evoke emotions. The more meaningful and concise the signature and picture, the better they complement each other, the wider the effect of the meme becomes. As a result, people repeat them – and memes become viral, they are forced everywhere.
Where There Humorous Memes Before the Internet?
Memes were around long before the existence of the Internet. In fact, they have been around since Dawkins invented the term, appearing since 79 AD. in a ruin of Pompeii and until the 1970s, in graffiti.
Sator Square is a palindrome of the five words “SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS” – one on the top of the next. You can read in any direction (assuming you read Latin), including upside down and back. Although no one really knows what it means, it has been shown for centuries in different cultures around the world, including France, England, Syria and Italy.
Frodo Baggins, the fictional character of JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has also become part of a meme. The phrase “Frodo Lives” has been plastered all over graffiti, buttons and even stickers. It was frequently used by people who felt that Frodo, who was sent to Mordor on a death mission by powerful people with their own agendas.
Another example of memes occurred in the early 1990s: Godwin’s Law. Although it was originally designed for a newsgroup discussion forum, it remains in effect today, as it did almost 30 years ago. Godwin’s Law states that “As a discussion on Usenet grows larger, the likelihood of a comparison involving the Nazis or Hitler is closer to one.” Once the thread reached this point, it was traditionally taken into account and anyone who mentioned the Nazis immediately lost any credibility in the argument.
Internet’s First Funny Memes Occurrence
The first viral internet meme can be traced back to a particular dancing child, which was spread around the internet, before finally appearing in an episode of “Ally McBeal”.
In 1996, graphic designer Michael Girard created a software that showed how motion could be programmed and projected through computers. The final design was the model of a child who demonstrated different movements like Cha-Cha-Cha. Girard’s employer then sent the developers a demo to show off their software capabilities. One of the demos arrived in the mailbox of a Lucas Art’s employee, who turned the video into a GIF and shared it (mostly through forums and emails, but also on the growing web). And so, it became a widespread viral sensation.
The Hampster dance was another popular memory of the early internet. It was a site containing rows of animated GIF hamsters dancing to a version of “Whistle Stop” – a song used in Walt Disney’s “Robin Hood” credits. The site was created by a Canadian art student who was in competition with her sister and a friend in 1998, to see who could generate the largest web traffic online.
After generating only 600 views in 8 months, her site suddenly went viral. In just four days, her site was visited by over 600,000 people, gaining popularity through email, blogs and even bumper stickers.
The Evolution of Funny Memes
With the widespread use of social media and sites like Reddit, 9GAG and 4Chan, memes have become increasingly popular and went viral overnight, with millions of daily visitors aiming to have a laugh or two.
Before the internet came up, memes tended to have political or cultural significance, and their popularity lasted much longer than they did today. While some memes of today may still show longevity, most go from viral to forgotten in a relatively short time. This is partly because of how fast the internet is moving (there’s always something new to get your attention) and partly because it’s easy to create memes.
Memes have also moved away from political or cultural topics to focus on pop cultural references and sarcastic life observations, making them relatable, funny and easier for them to spread like wild fire on the web.
A significant case of evolution in a meme should be “LOLCats” and the entire language surrounding the meme itself. “LOLCats” use a creative spelling style with their memes, called “lolspeak”, personifying the cats described in the pictures. They are using spelling mistakes and inappropriate times to make sentences in a common structure,.
Starting with 2010, the LOLCat Bible Translation Project has completed a translation of the Bible into “lolspeak”, including even the New Testament’s translation. But things don’t stop here. More specifically, an esoteric programming language called “LOLCode” was born, using the same speech format in “LOLCats” memos, to form an ever-evolving memory beyond a simple image.
Why Are Funny Memes Effective and Amusing?
If you are a faithful user of social networks, or the Internet in general, then you know that memes are all around. Even the media uses funny memes now. So, why do we like memes so much?
Long before there were social networks and cat memes, the word meme referred to an anthropological concept. That is, a cultural product of transfers from one individual to another. On the internet however, these took another comic and satirical twist. And to understand them, we have to go through all the reasons involved.
They Send a Message in Which We Find Ourselves
The fact that we find ourselves in a meme is the main reason why we like some of them, and some of them not. More specifically, a university student will feel identified with the “lazy student” meme. Moreover, someone who has a job will feel identified with the “overbearing boss” and decide to share the afferent meme with his friends from his WhatsApp group or other similar platforms or apps. Our experiences and past will determine our taste for certain memes. Even so, we are still able to appreciate other types of memes. Although we might not identify ourselves with the message, we can still understand it. Or, we can simply like it because it’s funny.
We Use Them in Different Levels of Communication
WhatsApp groups are more full of memes than texts. This is because it is easier to communicate a complete idea with a meme. In comparison with sending a voice message or a written one, they are more effective.
Memes Confer the Feeling of Complicity
Memes in general and funny memes in particular make us feel better because we feel that we are not alone. This means that we are returning to the first point for a bit.
Many memes are about real-life situations, ephemeral and short. Many of them are banal complications and others a little more complex. Regardless of which one, you know that there is someone who made that meme that knows how you feel and what you are going through.
Memes Generate More Positive Than Negative Reactions
Funny talks promote lasting friendships and memes are perfect for this. Even to flirt with a girl or let a guy know that you like what you feel for him can be done with memes. These are messages that, for better or worse, generate a smile on a person’s face. Said person sees them and therefore, they associate you with whatever you send to them. In other words, you can find similar tastes and interest with other people.
The image was captured by the boy’s mother. He was 11 months old at the time. Laney Griner shared her son’s photo on Flickr, which was quickly shared by millions of users, reaching its highest popularity by 2012.
What is Next in the World of Funny Memes?
Knowing the future is beyond our reach. However, we can ensure you that memes will cease to be imprisoned by static images. The future of humorous memes began with trends known as vines. The latter are short videos, usually funny, that express daily life situations or show jokes made to citizens.
In the same way, almost 20 years after the Dancing Baby, the use of gifs in communication is already common. In addition, the meme has already begun to take its first steps in the incursion of the moving image. Although the most rigorous explain that gifs could not be considered memes, this is not so. In fact, what is done in a gif is a sequence of memes. So, it is not so exaggerated to think that if it is not a meme, at least it is an evolution of the meme. This is because it has the same characteristics with an exception, namely the apparent movement. Also, in this way, the possibilities of its content increase.
In conclusion, funny memes aren’t a simple phenomenon. On the contrary, there is a lot hiding behind a seemingly humorous image. As seen in this article, humor and stereotypes go hand in hand. In addition, memes aren’t new to the world of communication and they shouldn’t be treated as such either. Starting with the first meme and going all the way to current days, the evolution is fantastic. So, don’t hesitate to enjoy funny memes and other types of memes as well!