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December 2nd, 2008
The Online Episode
Five Classic Viral Videos
Check out these five classic videos to appear in January 7ths online episode that have become common references offline due to their overwhelming popularity.

1. The Evolution of Dance

Whether you love it, hate it, or just think it’s boring and not worth the energy to think about, Judson Laipply’s “Evolution of Dance” is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube and deserves recognition.

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2. The Numa Numa Guy

Gary Brolsma rose to internet stardom by dancing in front of his computer’s screen lipsynching to this track by Moldovan pop music group O-zone. This video has been reposted thousands of times on the net and has even been referenced by the popular animated series South Park.

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3. The Dramatic Chipmunk

In actuality a gopher, the clip known as “Dramatic Chipmunk” originally comes from an appearance by J-pop group MiniMoni on the Japanese TV show Hello! Morning. Taken out of context, this 5 second video has become one of the funniest and most popular 5 second clips online.

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4. Star Wars Kid

The Star Wars Kid is one of the biggest internet phenomena of our current era. Star War Kid’s footage was released online by his classmates when they found his home made footage at school in Montreal. Originally shared and popularized through the peer to peer client Kazaa, this footage has found its way to popularity on YouTube and has even been referenced by the popular comedic series Arrested Development.

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5. Chocolate Rain

Tay Zonday hit an internet goldmine with his music video and song “Chocolate Rain.” His video quickly rose to millions of views and becoming the winner of the Music category in the 2007 YouTube Awards. His internet fame has been referenced by popular comedy shows such as The Daily Show, South Park, and countless interviews and appearance on talk shows. Zonday was later paid a hefty sum for a Dr. Pepper ad compaign promoting “Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper” with his song re-recorded as “Cherry Chocolate Rain.”

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What is it about these clips that makes so many people laugh? Is it a factor of finding the lowest common denominator of humor? Or is there something more complicated going on? When are these clips about mean-spirited humor and are they in good fun?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • Eeez

    YouTube is America’s Funniest Home Videos 2.0, minus Bob Saget.

  • kevin

    Looking forward to seeing “Hamster on a piano eating popcorn” up here too! Good pop history on viral videos. Cheers!

  • M

    I love all of these! Hilarious stuff

  • MC

    The truth is, that “gopher” is actually a prairie dog. Yet another confusion :P

  • Mike

    the dance video and Chocolate Rain are classics.

  • A O

    OMG, Weezer’s Pork ‘n Beans Video just got a million times funnier!

  • Paul Klusman

    “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats” on YouTube was the #1 viral video on the entire internet two weekends in a row in April 2008 according to viralvideochart.com.

  • Anita Ware

    Those video Clip’s were Hilarious!!

  • Anita Ware

    I Laughed My Ass Off At Those Video Clip’s!

  • Robert HP

    While there is a certain egalitarian appeal going on here (look – not just the agent backed, well-financed comics are funny!), I think there is definitely a Candid Camera, train-wreck watching aspect to the kind of humor that thrives on YouTube. The late night talk shows exploit this kind of humor, from Stupid Human Tricks all the way back to Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. It’s a category of humor that will never die, but has an embarrassingly high level of pathos and patronization to it, IMHO. “Chocolate Rain” is a great example – Zonday didn’t record it to be humorous (and Star Wars Kid clearly was quite serious), but viewers find it pathetic or laughable in some way, when it’s really quite a poetic, honorable attempt at performance. Not my favorite kind of comedy.

  • Oberon

    “What is it about these clips that makes so many people laugh?”

    Chocolate rain is not funny at all. It’s about the continued existence of black oppression. Oh people are so dense. I just lost some respect for pbs.

  • sadie

    The hamster made my day.

  • Peter D. Kinsey

    Isn’t there a privacy issue with the sharing of the Star Wars Kid’s video?

  • Sheri

    I agree that Chocolate Rain and the Star Wars reenactment are not comedy whatsoever. When I see my fellow humans berating someone’s earnest efforts, I feel terrible for the victim and lose faith in people. They are indeed mean-spirited and not my kind of humor.

  • Marco

    These videos are all hilarious for their own reasons. Though Tay Zonday was serious, he would’ve never gotten this much attention if he had tried to play at clubs or get a record deal. Any publicity is good publicity right? Plus, he got to do a Dr. Pepper commercial because of it!

    Now the Star Wars kid is a different story. People laughed at that video because it talks to everybody’s inner child, reminding us of what we considered serious (And how cool we thought we looked) while playing. I think people genuinely love him for this video as opposed to pitying him, though he may feel differently about it. (I heard he had issues following the popularity of the video and had to be pulled out of school and put in psychiatric care. My buddy went to school with him, small world eh?)

    Numa numa is hilarious for the first few times, then you never want to see it again.

    Evolution of Dance is hilarious/awesome/wicked.

    The best of the list is Dramatic Look Goafer. I must’ve seen it at least 50 times and it continues to be hilarious!

    I would’ve wanted to see Sneeze Panda up there! Maybe a baby laughing. Where the hell is Matt? would’ve been a good addition too. I think the internet can be hilarious as long as you know how to filter out the smut.

  • Jeanette

    I don’t get it or maybe you don’t get it. “Chocolate Rain” isn’t funny or meant to be funny. You want funny songs try “Mean Little Kitty” by Mr. Safety or “First Semester of Spanish Love Song” or Jib-Jab’s stuff. There is some geniunely funny stuff out there.

  • Jake Eagle

    AW, come on! PBS didn’t use the original version of the Numa Numa dance! go to http://www.newgrounds.com, the orignal source of the video, to watch the full unedited version with the original authors MX flash style comedy. http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/206373

    Newgrounds, Everything by Everyone

  • EricJ

    These are priceless! There is something classic in all of these pieces. The high energy of The Evolution of Dance the exuberance of The Numa Numa Guy, the fantasy of The Star Wars Kid to the foe tension of The Dramatic Chipmunk! I love ‘em

  • toby

    We can just all get along. :-)

  • Phil

    Jeanette, “Chocolate Rain” went meme due to ridicule of Tay Zonday, not because the song itself is funny or meant to be funny. Tay just rolled with the punches better than most.

    The same with the Star Wars kid and to a lesser extent the Numa Numa guy. The Star Wars kid was actually pretty mad about the video getting out, as some people had found the tape after he left it in the camera.

  • LN

    It’s the voice. (period). This young man is the new voice of Morgan Freemand, etc. etc. His career is guaranteed. Who cares what he’s talking about…we will all listen to what he says. Go for it young man

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