The Brave New World of Meme Comedy

The Brave New World of Internet Meme Comedy

by Rob Giuffre


Internet memes have existed since the advent of the internet, but with websites like Instagram and Snapchat breaking into the mainstream with hundreds of millions of active users (Instagram reached 400 million active users in September 2015, handedly surpassing rival Twitter for second most popular social network), many talented comedic minds are being discovered via internet memes.


A meme is defined by Wikipedia as “an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the internet.”  This leaves a whole lot of room for interpretation.  


We spoke with George Resch, better known as “tank.sinatra” (222k followers) on Instagram, and perhaps most well known as a key content contributor to “thefatjewish” (7.6 million followers), to obtain a better understanding of this new frontier of comedic art.  


Before a discussion can even begin, however, we must address the reality that many professional and even amateur standup comedians and comedy writers would dispute the premise that internet memes are a legitimate form of comedy.







This is something Resch has come to terms with, even though he strongly disagrees.  As he explains, a meme is something very spontaneous, where one has to capture a fleeting moment before it disappears. Whereas with standup comedy, performers work at crafting a set and tell the same jokes again and again.  Where standups might make snide remarks over how simple it is to create a meme, meme makers will claim standups are inauthentic for telling the same jokes over and over on stage as if new.  For Resch, both are different formats requiring different delivery systems, but both have comedic value.  


As millennials continue to embrace politically correct culture –forcing standup comedians like Jerry Seinfeld to refuse to perform at college campuses– is comedy as we know it shifting from the comedy clubs and theaters to websites like Instagram, Reddit, Imgur, 4chan and chive?  The jury is out, but one thing is certain, the new world of meme comedy is here and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.


But is there money to be made?  Is internet fame worth anything?  For Resch the answer seems to be “not really,” at least not yet.  While “thefatjewish” seems to have monetized his internet presence with public appearance gigs, product endorsements, a book deal and even his own wine label (White Girl Rose’), it seems for the vast majority of meme content creators, it is little more than a hobby.


As for “tank.sinatra,” a construction company executive in real life, being part of the meme movement and being shouted out by the likes of “thefatjewish” is enough compensation. For now.


Listen to Rob’s interview of tank.sinatra here (via SoundCloud): The Brave New World of Internet Meme Comedy


Rob Guiffre is an Bronx-based educator and freelance writer. 


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