When I was told to write one of these 10 funniest things on the internet columns my first thought was, “Oh no, the internet isn’t for remembering things.” My second thought was, “Oh no, I don’t know what’s funny.” And my third thought was, “They’re really letting anyone do one of these.” Does it count if it’s on the internet but was originally on something else? Because that’s a lot of things. So it’s always good to start with an existential lack of confidence in the fundamental structures of the game.
Most of my memories of laughing at the internet come from when I was about 15 – a period when the internet was on a big clumpy desktop in our living room, when I was cackling with my twin brother over things that almost certainly don’t hold up today, and which I can’t bear to go back to in case they don’t. One was a website that had little animations of a dinosaur that was critical of capitalism, which I’ve found impossible to google. There was also a deeply worried existential bat character that I screenshot to use as my avatar on my teenage LiveJournal.
Anyway, this list is as much “10 things I can remember from the internet” as anything else.
1. “How is prangent formed?”
This is just a man reading different questions from people about pregnancy where they’ve misspelled the word “pregnant”. For a list of queries, a high proportion of which were probably written amid deep human emotion, and that might be characterised as punching down, this builds a level of absurdity that I find irresistible.
“PREGANANANT” just hits the sweet spot for me.
2. Robert Pattinson’s hand-held pasta invention
Zach Baron’s GQ interview with Robert Pattinson is beautifully written, and the description about three-quarters of the way through of Pattinson’s attempt to cook his own recipe is gorgeous. It escalates into absurdity and, as Baron acknowledges, he’s not sure if Pattinson is doing a bit, being earnestly incompetent, completely unhinging from reality, or a bit of each. The best way to enjoy this is to read it out loud to a friend.
3. Laura Davis: Gobby or Shark
It’s no secret that I love Laura Davis. She’s glorious, and her deeply under-appreciated comedy chops are undeniable. Gobby or Shark is a clip of standup that’s a great example of her combination of brutality and wistfulness.
I’d recommend getting onboard with all her work, including her latest album, The Bus Show, which was recorded in a cupboard during lockdown and is one of the most successful versions of comedy-without-an-audience I’ve experienced.
4. Fresh Avocado
Why do I find people finding things funny so funny?
One of the things I can’t resist is other people laughing at stuff. It brings me joy and may well be one of the reasons I love doing comedy.
5. The Toast’s Two Mediaeval Monks Inventing Things series
The Toast was consistently brilliant and I’m sad it’s shut down, but I regularly go back to the Two Monks series when I’m miserable and it always makes me laugh. It’s hard to choose just one but here you go.
Daniel Lavery is one of my favourite internet writers, sliding effortlessly between the beauty of linguistic stylings that can be understood as a sort of stylistic historical fanfiction and an extremely modern internet sensibility. His book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You, is surreal and incisive.
6. Isaac by Jonny and the Baptists
A little song about Bible stories. It’s sweet, heartbreaking, gorgeously musical, political, deeply human and very funny, which is a lot to fit into 3:07.
In fact, the whole album is beautiful, and my favourite song on it isn’t comedy at all. I saw the show Love you, Hate Bastards in Edinburgh last year and it made me laugh and then cry hysterically, which is maybe not comedy, but is my favourite kind of comedy. I thought it was quite funny in retrospect that it had made me cry so much, so made a friend play the album in the car on a long drive, and was telling her when the sad song came up that it was the one that made me cry, and then I cried hysterically again in her car, to everyone’s great embarrassment.
7. Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas
This is a gorgeous short film, beautifully shot by the puppeteer Johannes Nyholm, predicated on the old premise that toddlers are tiny drunks or destructive Vikings. It’s way too much effort for a very simple joke; it’s weirdly melancholy, surprisingly provocative, existentially dumb and it makes me laugh.
There are a million videos of my two year old niece on our family WhatsApp finding normal things hilarious that are funnier than anything and I would include them here were it not a breach of her tiny dignity. That said, other people’s families are way less worried about baby privacy and this is a good example of the genre.
8. Chappelle’s Show: True Hollywood Stories – Rick James part two
These stories from Charlie Murphy of his Hollywood experiences are related hilariously by Murphy, re-enacted hilariously by Dave Chappelle, but the actual commentary from Rick James makes this a top-notch piece of comedy.
9. Kate McKinnon as Cecilia Gimenez
Kate McKinnon is always funny and these sketches are funny, sad and funny.
10. This tweet from Rebecca Shaw
I love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I love Bec Shaw, I have mixed feelings about puns. This is a rollercoaster for me, every time, and Bec’s commitment to enjoying it gives me hope.
• Follow Alice Fraser on Twitter and catch her, along with the comedian Fady Kassab, for Humour Us as part of the Sydney Opera House’s digital season on Friday 30 October at 8pm