OK, I admit it. I'm a sucker for the surreal, and most internet memes are surreal if nothing else. How something as goofy as Yo Dawg Yo or Dramatic Hamster takes off can never fully be explained. They seem to strike some universal humor chord in everyone, whether we understand why we're laughing or not.
I'll also admit that I, like many, tend to find humor in the misfortunes of others. Hell, America's Funniest Home Videos has made a fortune on the fact that we love to laugh at others falling down and screwing up. The FAIL! meme is a prime example of this, as is my current favorite thing on the internet, Keyboard Cat.
Like most memes, the idea is simple. Two years ago, Charlie Schmidt uploaded a video of his cat, Fatso, playing keyboards to YouTube. A couple of months ago, someone found it, and attached it to the end of a video clip of a kid in a wheelchair taking a tumble down an escalator, gave it the title "Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat," and an internet sensation was born.
The combination of someone's bad luck, the cheesy Casio-keyboard melody, and the cat's typical aloof expression as he is obviously being manipulated to appear to be playing make the whole thing, for some reason, hysterical. I literally laughed so hard tears were running down my face the first time I saw it.
Keyboard Cat has now played off hundreds if not thousands of videos, from fat guys falling off of treadmills to Glen Beck's guest passing out to the Hindenburg. Each variation involves the phrase "Play him off, Keyboard Cat" in some form, and often includes a second phrase, "That'll do, Keyboard Cat. That'll do," (a paraphrase of a quote from the movie Babe).
That's it. That's all there is to it. And yet, it floors me.
Here are a few examples:
And finally, the original clip. Play us off, Keyboard Cat...