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How do you translate memes into live stand-up comedy?

How do you translate memes into live stand-up comedy?

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An IRL meme by Touching Grass.

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

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

Memer explained to Gizmodo how they translate online humor to IRL shows.

“There are a lot of things people laugh about online that they don’t laugh about live on a screen,” explained Annie Rauwerda, who runs @DepthsofWikipedia on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. “If you have that person up there responding to internet humor or adding or showing which part is funny as a kind of surrogate for the audience, that can be helpful.”

“A lot of stand-up gigs just show up at a bar, so you have to talk about more normal things. With memes, people are happy to hear about Big Chungus and stuff like that. If you walk into a bar and say ‘Big Chungus’ half the people won’t know what that is,” said Tony Zaret, who runs @tonyzaret on Instagram. “People who are online want to hear more hints about things like YouTubers and video games. You can’t talk about it in a stand-up comedy club because there are more people who like to leave their homes. They want to hear things like marriage.”

Click through to see images of memers hosting live shows, specifically three: Touching Grass, a variety show set to premiere in Philadelphia in late 2022; a punk art exhibit 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 like a meet and greet, like a rave. We called it a meme art show,” said Joelle Bouchard, who runs “It gives you a chance to meet the people you’ve had this parasocial relationship with online. We have a lot of fans, but we seem so incomprehensible to them.”

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

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

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