Episodes
West Side Story meme described in the episode.
Say My Meme, Jun 07, 2021, Musical Theatre

Musical Theatre

Matthew Shifrin is the host of the new Radiotopia Presents podcast Blind Guy Travels – and he's also somewhat of a "meme skeptic." Blind since birth, Matthew hasn't engaged much with the visual culture of memes. So in our neverending crusade to bring memes to tohe people who have the least access, we attempted to turn Matthew into a meme enthusiast by tapping into one of this favorite subjects: musical theatre.

Episode Transcript

Will Butler:

You're listening to Say My Meme, the podcast that describes the internet's best memes for a blind audience. I'm your co-host Will Butler from Be My Eyes, and I'm joined by Caroline Desrosiers from Scribely. This week on the podcast, we're talking with Matthew Shifrin, celebrating the release of his new podcast on Radiotopia Presents, called Blind Guy Travels. Matthew is an incredible storyteller, musician, and radio producer, and as we learned a bit of a meme skeptic, we tried to turn him today by pulling some memes on one of his favorite topics, musical theater. Here's the episode.

Matthew Shifrin:

I'm Matthew Shifrin, thank you so much for joining us on Say My Meme. Oh, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me Will.

Will Butler:

Matthew has a show coming up produced, with Radiotopia, the independent podcast network that produces so many wonderful podcasts, the show is called Blind Guy Travels, and Matthew would say it's a culmination of a lot of events in your life. Isn't it?

Matthew Shifrin:

Oh, very much. The show is really a combination of on one hand, kind of my life as a college student, in the sense that we get to see a senior recital that I give as a musician going to music school, but also we get to see various projects that I've been working on the Lego instructions for blind kids that I invented, and the origins of how blind people can learn to gesture, and what it's like doing public speaking and giving TED Talks as a blind person, or hydro blind people, what's it like when you are online dating as a blind person? What's that process like? So the show really aims to take these familiar experiences that you think you know, and really delve into them, and explore them from a different perspective.

Will Butler:

Did you say you learned how to gesture?

Matthew Shifrin:

Yeah, it was amazing. I realized that... I was in a school play as a kid, and there was this play called The Little Red Hen. And the trouble was, I was the farmer in this play and I was supposed to interrogate all the animals. And my parents were rehearsing with me, and they realized that they had a problem, because I did not know how to point. It was something mythical to me, and I only read about it in books. Oh, the man pointed at the side. I don't know. He did something with his index finger, and he moved it to where he saw the sign, and then that showed that he was referencing the side. But as a blind person, it was something that I never did because, what if you pointed the wrong person, and parents tell their children so many times, "Oh, don't point Jonny, it's rude."

Matthew Shifrin:

So that was something that I never really used, but the trouble was, then I was asked to do a TED Talk. And this terrifying because with a TED Talk, you can't just stand on stage and talk at people, even though it is called the TED Talk, they don't expect you to just talk. So I realized that I needed help, and I found a gesture coach, and she's an expert in nonverbal communication, and she basically taught me how to gesture. That was amazing because I'd never had this freedom of the hands and the body to know exactly what they're doing and why they're doing it. If you give me a prop, then I'm fine because my hand is occupied. But when the hand is just a hand, it's a floppy hand, because it has no goal and no purpose. So it was really amazing to learn how to give your body purpose, and how to make it compliment the words that you're saying, and how to help tell the story using it.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Caroline Desrosiers:

That's so interesting. Did it feel like learning how to gesture was learning how to perform, or performative in that way where it's something that you had to... It was like a new skill they had to learn?

Matthew Shifrin:

Oh, it was a whole new skill. I had to write out every single gesture and how to perform it. "Oh, whoa, when do we say this, we need to..." I don't know, "Take our left index finger and hook it diagonally over there. Right thumb, and move the hands concentrically forwards and backwards in a circle."

Caroline Desrosiers:

It sounds [crosstalk 00:04:32].

Matthew Shifrin:

And just-

Will Butler:

Wow, talk about like making gestures, like really dry.

Matthew Shifrin:

... Oh, very.

Will Butler:

What's your favorite gesture, Matthew?

Matthew Shifrin:

That's an amazing question. What's interesting is, I know that the gestures that I know are very specific to this TED Talk. So, if I need to emphasize the size of an object, I can do that. Like, "Oh, we take our hands and we make a big circle with them. And that shows how big this thing is." But I don't really know the more common everyday gestures, just because they're not... I don't know how to phrase this. Like thumbs up or thumbs down are useful, but when would you... You're not going to use them in a conversation. The basic hand gestures that I do know are not really applicable to daily life.

Will Butler:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:05:29].

Matthew Shifrin:

And I just say any gesture that I can do so that it doesn't look robotic and like some sort of maniacal puppet, is my favorite gesture.

Will Butler:

Wow, that's so incredible. Well, and it strikes me that memes are what we do on the show, is we described memes, which a lot of them do involve gestures and facial expressions. So the fun thing, I don't know, and Caroline you could speak to this then fun thing about unearthing descriptions for these memes is that a lot of them do raise questions about things that I personally have just missed, you know?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Right, yeah. No, it could be, as you said, all in the facial expression or all in the gesture, and that visual directly relates to the punchline. So we really, at times dig into what these look like or what is their meaning, so that we can really help people understand this meme fully.

Will Butler:

Well, Matthew we're super excited to listen to Blind Guy Travels, and I assume with the online dating episode, you're going to leave us in suspense on that one. I just want to know how it went.

Matthew Shifrin:

Oh, absolutely. But stay till the end. There'll be a great surprise, after the credit's waiting for you.

Will Butler:

Well, that will be available by, I assume, just searching Blind Guy Travels on any of the podcast services?

Matthew Shifrin:

Yup.

Will Butler:

Amazing. So, Matthew, I have to admit, we were a little bit nervous going into today's episode of Say My Meme digging up some Memes for you because we heard word on the street that you were somewhat of a meme skeptic.

Matthew Shifrin:

Alas, that is the case.

Will Butler:

I don't want to paint you as a villain here, but Matthew, maybe you can tell us just a little bit about your understanding of memes up to this point. What do you know of memes.?

Matthew Shifrin:

I think that memes are really valuable, as a cultural reference point for a lot of people, and they become popular on the internet because each one has a flavor to it, or some wisdom to impart, or some humor to give us. But my meme experience has been very limited, just because, let's say my parents who are sighted, let's say they find a meme, and most of the memes that they enjoy are text-based, and the whole fun of them is in the text. And if they're just a joke that's like graphical text, then I get it and enjoy it. But a lot of the picture-based memes, they're so hard to describe, because a lot of them are just, I don't know. The way that someone reacts to something, and the caption might be funny, but their facial reaction to an event is really what sells it.

Matthew Shifrin:

So then when you're describing this reaction, you need to make some sort of ridiculous metaphor to try and sell it. And you'd be like, "Oh, well, oh." It's like, "If you were a fly, and I tried to swat you, and then..." I don't know. Just some, some ridiculous metaphor that barely makes sense, to try and get this expression across. And oftentimes, unfortunately it just falls flat.

Will Butler:

Right. Well, I think you nailed it. I think that is probably the most difficult thing to translate. Across all of our meme descriptions, I think we found the facial expression ones to be the toughest cookies. But Caroline, can you give us some background on how you went about sourcing this week's memes, with all of this in mind?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Sure. Well, we know that you love musicals Matthew. So, first of all, I just tried to think of some really popular musicals, that people love and start there. And then once I had list going, I just searched the web, and I picked ones that tI thought would be funny. And that also, they are funny for a few different reasons. You don't have to have seen the musical to get the joke. They relate to something else about life or our experiences that people can relate to. So, I selected a group of memes that I hope will have broader appeal beyond musicals, but definitely are for musical fans out there.

Matthew Shifrin:

They're multifaceted memes, if you will.

Will Butler:

Yes.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Exactly.

Will Butler:

And Matthew, as we go through the memes today, maybe not only can we talk about whether or not they tickle your funny bone, but if they suck, let's try to figure out what makes them funnier. You know what I mean? Like we can build off of these.

Matthew Shifrin:

Of course

Will Butler:

The whole beauty of memes is that the whole internet participates. So, here we are, breaking new ground. Caroline, we also made an effort to pick memes with different formats. Can we talk a little bit about that before we dive in?

Matthew Shifrin:

Yes. Yeah, definitely there's an aspect to each meme. Each one is slightly different, and they use a unique format that is common and cross as many other memes out there on the web. So when we're moving through and describing these memes, we're also going to try to break down the format for you, and what distinguishes that and what you'd need to know, in order to get the punchline.

Will Butler:

So, there's no right or wrong answer here, and we're all friends, but we're going to throw some musical memes at you Matthew. How does that sound?

Matthew Shifrin:

Fire away?

Will Butler:

Okay. All right. Caroline, you can take it from here and I'll just try to be helpful, however I can.

Caroline Desrosiers:

All right. Okay. So the first step, we're going to start with a little musical called Hamilton. So Matthew, are you familiar with the musical Hamilton?

Matthew Shifrin:

I am.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Okay. Well, maybe instead of me talking about the background then, maybe you could tell our listeners a little bit about what Hamilton is all about.

Matthew Shifrin:

It's a rap-based musical about Alexander Hamilton, the American historical figure. And in revolutionary America, we are attempting to break, go away from Britain, and Alexander Hamilton, our protagonist is one of the main players in this historical kind of cat and mouse situation. And there's rap music, and there's gorgeous dancing supposedly, I can't prove it. And there've been many Tonys and many a teenager bopping out to this musical in their bedroom, I can assure.

Will Butler:

Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Matthew Shifrin:

Yes. So this meme, yes, it's about Hamilton and it specifically references the song, The Room Where It Happens. And if you remember that song, it's from Act 2, and it's a duet with Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, who is a lawyer and politician, and I think eventually a vice-president to Jefferson. But basically in the song, Burr is telling Hamilton to stop talking so much, and be more politically savvy. Burr likes to go with wherever the wind blows and Hamilton really likes to take a strong position. So he's trying to basically give him advice. And then while they're talking, during the song, Hamilton is ushered to a secret dinner with Jefferson and James Madison, and Burr reacts to that, and he's a bit jealous.

Matthew Shifrin:

So, basically the song is about... Burr wants to be in the room where it happens, or to say that in another way, be a party to important decisions that decide the structure of our country. So, Matthew, did I capture that correctly, or do you have anything to add about that song that you remember?

Matthew Shifrin:

You've done your research, that's for sure. Oh my gosh, I feel [crosstalk 00:14:21].

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes I have.

Matthew Shifrin:

So what is this meme?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, okay. Also for this meme, yes. You also have to know about a little bit about cats and I-

Matthew Shifrin:

What about them?

Caroline Desrosiers:

... I'm just going to say a strange interest or desire that cats have, that a lot of cat owners can relate to. So there's a reference to only Hamilton, but also cat behaviors in this meme. All right.

Matthew Shifrin:

Do they like boxes and laser pointers?

Caroline Desrosiers:

It's not that one, because they have many strange behaviors, it's another one. And as a cat owner, I can definitely say that this [crosstalk 00:15:08].

Matthew Shifrin:

Do you speak cat?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes. Okay. So, you're ready to get into the meme?

Will Butler:

Let's do it.

Matthew Shifrin:

Ready when you are.

Caroline Desrosiers:

All right. So, I'm going to describe the image first, and then the punchline. Leslie Odom Jr. portraying Aaron Burr on stage during the play Hamilton. His face expression is very serious, like he's fixated on something, or he's stopped in his tracks. And the punchline is, "My cat when I'm going to the bathroom." I've got to be in the room where it happens.

Matthew Shifrin:

Wait, I am not a cat owner. What's going on here?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Matt, I don't know if you've experienced this with cats, but they do walk in to the bathroom when you're in there. And they're just strangely fascinated by that. If you close the door on them, they will meow at the door. And I think it has something to do with they know you're kind of held captive in that moment, and that you will definitely give them a few pets. So it's a good opportunity for them to swoop in.

Will Butler:

They have the upper hand.

Caroline Desrosiers:

They do, and they know that.

Will Butler:

This is when you're sitting on the toilet?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes, yes. So basically, if I could break this down, this is a high-brow poop joke.

Matthew Shifrin:

It's right.

Will Butler:

You are correct.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah.

Matthew Shifrin:

That's a great way to phrase it. I would've never considered phrasing it that way, but you you're right.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Right.

Will Butler:

Oh Matt, you're never going to be able to think of that Hamilton song the same again. So you're welcome.

Matthew Shifrin:

Never. Thank you.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Right. I know. And I just love this, that a cat, they picked out that a cat's persistence about getting into the room is similar to Burrs' persistence to get in the room where it happens. But they're both pursuing that with the same intensity. So I think that's the joke here.

Matthew Shifrin:

It's also very forthright. It just gets to the point. One sentence and there you go.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Right. It's [crosstalk 00:17:34].

Matthew Shifrin:

No long set up, and just a cat in a sentence, and here we are.

Will Butler:

All right. And it seems to me that the visual almost doesn't even matter here, Caroline?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, I would say, it kind of plays a minor role. It's more about the background of knowing Hamilton, and knowing what they're talking about in that song. And then knowing also what cats do, when it comes to you going to the bathroom. So I think it's more about the punchline than the actual image.

Will Butler:

Matthew, if you had to rate this meme on a scale of one to 10, what would you rate it? Knowing that your scores may be a little weighted?

Matthew Shifrin:

Let's see. I'm allergic to cats, but I like musicals. So how should I weigh this? 6.5 to seven.

Will Butler:

It's a safe bet.

Caroline Desrosiers:

All right, all right. Pretty good.

Will Butler:

That's a pretty good score coming out the gate from the meme skeptic.

Matthew Shifrin:

True, but it's the way you described it. Caroline, you did your research. That's the thing. If I had just seen this meme, I wouldn't be as impressed, but you went all out, you saw the musical, you knew the actors, you speak cat. You really pulled out all the stops for this one.

Caroline Desrosiers:

So it's a 6.5 to seven for effort?

Matthew Shifrin:

Yes.

Caroline Desrosiers:

You boosted the score a little bit.

Will Butler:

Yeah. Oh man. What else have you brought, Caroline?

Caroline Desrosiers:

All right. Next step. Probably one of my favorite musicals of all time, West Side Story. I love it. And it's near and dear to my heart, and I'm a little bit worried about the New West Side story coming out, I don't know about you Matt, because I really connected with the original.

Matthew Shifrin:

Have you read sometimes books where he talks about what the process of writing it was like?

Caroline Desrosiers:

No.

Matthew Shifrin:

Highly recommended.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Tell us about that.

Matthew Shifrin:

So he has two books. One's called Look, I Made a Hat, and the other one's called, Finishing the Hat. And in these books, since he wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, he has all these juicy tidbits about the process of what it was like working with Leonard Bernstein, and how they went about finding all the actors, and what the auditions were like. And there's just so much juiciness that if you guys need some gossip from 60, 70 years ago in your life, this is the place to get it.

Will Butler:

Amazing.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Awesome.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah.

Will Butler:

Okay. This is a good one. So what have we got, Caroline?

Caroline Desrosiers:

West Side Story Jets characters, Riff, Action and Ice, leaning against a chain link fence that divides two outdoor basketball courts. They're all looking suspiciously, with dark narrowed eyes in the same direction, and holding their fingers up, as if to snap their fingers. And at the bottom of the image, a closed caption reads, "Finger snapping intensifies." Punchline, When the Pfizer gang see the Moderna boys on the streets.

Matthew Shifrin:

That's great.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah. So reactions?

Matthew Shifrin:

It's very relevant. [inaudible 00:21:36].

Caroline Desrosiers:

It's relevant.

Will Butler:

Relevant and unamused, Matthew?

Matthew Shifrin:

It's too close to home. Now [crosstalk 00:21:44].

Will Butler:

Exactly. These Memes, sometimes Matthew, the memes, they don't make you laugh. They just make you a little bit sad.

Matthew Shifrin:

Wary of the world around you.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Right.

Will Butler:

It is such a... Like I've seen some of these memes coming out about Pfizer versus Moderna. We did one earlier, it was like the guy and the girl in the club, and he's whispering in her ear like, "Are you Pfizer of Moderna?" And at first I was like, "Oh, that's funny." This is like booze is a good joke, but everyone is asking each other.

Caroline Desrosiers:

They are. I think it's an identity thing. Like they want you to label yourself as a Pfizer or Moderna. They want to know the vaccine that's coursing through your body. And this is relevant. And I don't know, it's just some weird thing that's happened, and I think that the creator of this meme has picked that out. They're like, "We've got the Pfizers, we've got the Modernas." And it's making this like West Side Story commentary, and I love that the finger snapping intensifies. It's like, we're all holding our attention about it-

Will Butler:

Right, right.

Caroline Desrosiers:

... and our expression is only our finger snapping.

Will Butler:

Yeah. Don't even mention Johnson & Johnson.

Matthew Shifrin:

Absolutely.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, I know.

Matthew Shifrin:

Then we'd have to start stomping.

Will Butler:

Okay. All right.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Oh my gosh.

Matthew Shifrin:

All right.

Will Butler:

What else have we got here? I'm not going to make you write that one, Matthew, because I don't want to know the score.

Matthew Shifrin:

Well, it depends Will. Which one are you? Pfizer or Moderna?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Okay. Sound of Music is the next meme, but we're just going to pause on that. So hold Sound of Music in your head and in your heart. But first, we're going to talk about Flex Tape.

Will Butler:

What?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Matthew, have you ever heard of Flex Tape?

Matthew Shifrin:

I have. I don't believe that it works, but theoretically it's been advertised everywhere.

Will Butler:

Wait, what is Flex Tape?

Caroline Desrosiers:

It's a strong rubberized waterproof tape, and it was created by a jolly fellow named Phil Swift, who is the CEO of the Flex Seal Family of Products. And Phil loves to make cheesy infomercials, demonstrating the effectiveness of his Flex Tape. And these are all over the internet and he, to be honest, has like a cult following, that reminds me a lot of the way people were obsessed with Billy Mays, the OxiClean spokesman, if you remember him.

Matthew Shifrin:

No, I do.

Caroline Desrosiers:

So he makes these cheesy infomercials that are just so animated, and I don't know, maybe we had this void that was waiting to be filled by another enthusiastic inventor, but Phil Swift is our guy of the moment. And basically in these infomercials, he slaps tape on problems. And like as Matthew said, there's not really any information provided on how long it holds. Right?

Matthew Shifrin:

Absolutely. And he says, "Oh, whoa, my car, it just got cut ina half, but I have flex tape." And then he claims to tape his car back together, and drives off into the sunset.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, that's pretty much it. Yeah.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Caroline Desrosiers:

So flex tape can fix anything.

Will Butler:

Anything. Okay. So how is this The Sound of Music meme?

Caroline Desrosiers:

They actually are two images. They're Flex Tape images, they're freeze frames from one of his infomercials, but the reference is to Sound of Music. And the format for this meme is called a label meme because basically the creator has slapped on, a lot like Flex Tape. He's slapped on these text overlays, over different subjects or objects within that image, and it creates a new humorous interpretation of these Flex Tape infomercials. So basically the format is like slapping a label on one thing to call it another, if that makes.

Matthew Shifrin:

The Flex Tape it means.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes, exactly.

Matthew Shifrin:

Okay. [crosstalk 00:26:31] [inaudible 00:26:31]?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah. So we're finally getting back to Sound of Music, don't worry.

Matthew Shifrin:

Okay.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes. So, here we go. The first image is Phil Swift. And what he looks like is, he's a short fellow with a pot belly, and he's wearing blue jeans and a short sleeve black polo shirt, with his little Flex Tape logo. And he's holding out a hand and winding up to slap a giant clear tank that has this major leak that's just gushing water. And in the second image, it's a closeup of Phil's hand, slapping the Flex Tape over the leak, and there's water spraying in all directions. So, you've got these two images, and the punchline labels are, Phil Swift is the von Trapps. The leak is Nazi Germany, and the Flex Tape he slapping on the leak is fun songs.

Will Butler:

Does it work? Wait, do you get that Matthew?

Matthew Shifrin:

I do, I do, because it's a label meme. There's more processing time required for the humor to engage, at least for me. Maybe that could be lacking the immediacy of the visual image, that could be part of the issue, and I think it brings up an interesting point about... I'm just going to ramble here for a second.

Will Butler:

Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Shifrin:

But if we think about how people interpret humor, and if you take a really long joke that has a lot of lead-up, and then it has a punchline, then a larger group of people that are going to be able to engage with that joke, not necessarily because the joke is funny, but because it's this whole experience. They've all been in on this together, and they've been trying to guess what the punchline will be. And if the punchline is something they didn't expect, and it's really funny, then they're in it. They've bought it, they're along for the ride.

Matthew Shifrin:

But what's interesting about this label meme, is that it doesn't really try to convince us of anything. It just makes a statement, and then waits for us to just somehow react to it. And it's a really interesting, and a very different approach to humor, than what I'm used to, just because I've never used label memes, and it's really interesting to see how it subverts to more standard uses of humor.

Will Butler:

Caroline, do you think that in general, label memes are kind of like they do take a longer processing time?

Matthew Shifrin:

Yes, definitely. I think I probably, maybe three or four times longer than it normally takes to understand a meme, because you're looking at all the different labels and you have to process them all together, and then you have to think about Flex Tape, and you have to think about Sound of Music, and there's a lot going on.

Will Butler:

Yeah. And there's no set order in which you look at the labels, it's just whichever one you decide to start with.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, yeah. And also oftentimes, processing these memes quickly, you don't actually appreciate them. And I find myself, in my doing the research behind this, and spending a little bit more time on these memes, I actually like them more at the end of that research. I don't know if maybe it's just the time commitment, but basically what this creator is saying is, if this leak is Nazi Germany, this tank is going to explode, and they're talking about the tension of 1938 in Austria, which was a pivotal year, and it's the year that Sound of Music takes place.

Caroline Desrosiers:

So, slapping fun songs on that, but then knowing what would ensue or take place in history after that. And I actually thought, this is one of those memes like yes, it's funny. Like you might go ha ha, but also it's interesting and clever, I think.

Matthew Shifrin:

And awfully dark.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes. Awfully dark, exactly.

Will Butler:

Okay. So, is there one more Caroline?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes. All right. So this meme is about the movie version of the musical Grease. Matthew, have you experienced Grease? Are you familiar with that musical?

Matthew Shifrin:

No. Not really.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Okay. I was absolutely obsessed with Grease as a child. I really loved it, sang all the songs.

Matthew Shifrin:

(Singing)

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes. So, this one, the references to one of the songs in Grease, and just to share a little bit more about the musical, John Travolta plays Danny Zuko, who is a leader of the T-Birds, which is a high school greaser gang. And this-

Matthew Shifrin:

Okay. I was always confused because I thought that Grease, the title was referring to the country, and I was very, very confused as to how the country called Greece-

Caroline Desrosiers:

Oh, it's so funny.

Matthew Shifrin:

... had to do with these high school gangs. [crosstalk 00:32:44].

Will Butler:

Matthew, you've got to see grease. It's so good.

Matthew Shifrin:

And hey, no [inaudible 00:32:55], no [inaudible 00:32:55], it would be great.

Will Butler:

No, just rolled up jeans and grease back hair, and hot rods.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, basically that sums it up. Wow.

Matthew Shifrin:

You just did Caroline's work for her.

Will Butler:

Oh, sorry.

Caroline Desrosiers:

What's that?

Will Butler:

Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to your work for you Caroline.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Oh, no, no. I love that. So this references a song from, You're The One That I Want, and I'm going to call this meme an exploitable, and what an exploitable is, it's basically an image that has been manipulated for humorous effect, and it changes the meaning. So, we often seem meme creators using Photoshop, to transform what's in the image and redefine it, and then make it funny. So in this meme, they have photoshopped to people, and made them look like they're shiny dill pickles with arms. So keep that visual in your head.

Matthew Shifrin:

That's quite the image.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah, and we'll come back to it.

Matthew Shifrin:

After they'll come more fixed, shiny pickles.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Shiny [crosstalk 00:34:20] pickles.

Matthew Shifrin:

I woke up this morning, and I said to myself, "Today, I'm going to see some anthropomorphic shiny pickles."

Will Butler:

Very [inaudible 00:34:33].

Matthew Shifrin:

Hey, at least I'm not a giant bug, it could be worse.

Will Butler:

Exactly.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Exactly. Not too bad. So the first image is Danny Zuko flashing a smile, and he's wearing his signature T-Bird's leather jacket with a white shirt, and his hair greased back. The second image is like a classroom photo, that looks like it's from a math textbook, and it looks like a teacher and a student, and they're doing multiplication on a chalkboard. And the creator of this meme has used Photoshop to transform, these people doing math into dill pickles with human arms. So the punchline is, Danny says in the first image, "I've got dills." And below that they're multiplying.

Matthew Shifrin:

(Singing). Right?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yup. That's electrifying, and you would... It's electrifying. You'd have to know the line of that song from, You're The One That I Want, to get you this meme.

Will Butler:

Oh, my-

Caroline Desrosiers:

You absolutely have to.

Matthew Shifrin:

... God. What a strange meme.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:35:54].

Will Butler:

Strange and beautiful.

Matthew Shifrin:

Kind of fascinating and it's-

Caroline Desrosiers:

I think it's beautifully composed.

Matthew Shifrin:

... What dark corners of the internet do you frequent to find these things?

Caroline Desrosiers:

I'm partial to the weird ones, I think.

Will Butler:

You are.

Matthew Shifrin:

You must be an expert meme detective. If I ever need a meme, you're the first person I'll call.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Oh my gosh. I am relentless when it comes to finding one that I like, and that makes me laugh and that I think people will enjoy. I'm absolutely relentless.

Matthew Shifrin:

So let me get this straight. He's up there going, (Singing), and then below that the pickles are multiplying?

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yes, yes.

Matthew Shifrin:

So stupid. [crosstalk 00:36:43].

Caroline Desrosiers:

Yeah. And it's stupid, and it's cute, and maybe that's it, for this meme.

Matthew Shifrin:

That's [inaudible 00:36:52].

Matthew Shifrin:

That's all it needs to be though.

Will Butler:

Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Shifrin:

It's enough.

Will Butler:

Yep, yep.

Caroline Desrosiers:

It's enough for me. Yeah, it's like with all these memes, of course, they're for the fans, therefore the soap cultures. They really enjoy these musicals, or knows exactly what it is. It's like they are a part of an inside joke or something. I don't know. What do you think Matthew?

Matthew Shifrin:

And they just love their pickles.

Caroline Desrosiers:

Oh, I just love pickles.

Will Butler:

Yeah. Well-

Matthew Shifrin:

It's all about the dills.

Will Butler:

... Pretty incredible. Matthew, thank you for coming on this journey with us.

Matthew Shifrin:

Thank you for showing me the power of Photoshop, and magical pickles.

Will Butler:

Caroline, as always, I'm blown away.

Matthew Shifrin:

You were very, very thorough.

Will Butler:

Matthew, what were big takeaways from today? Did we move the needle at all on your relationship with memes, or would you rather consume your culture in another venue?

Matthew Shifrin:

I think you've really helped me understand the sheer variety, the variety of memes, the styles of memes, the types, offshoots of humor that are used in memes that you don't see in a lot of other mediums. And I think it's really wonderful to be able to engage with this totally different style of... They're basically miniature stories, if you think about it. And it's a wonderful approach, and it's very different, and it's very unique, and it's very... It just tells a story in a completely different way, and you sit there and you think to yourself, 'Oh, what did I just see?" And then you're like, "Well, what did I just see?" And then you just have much more time to ruminate and let this meme feel like a vintage wine in the end, after you've given it a lot of thought and really pondered it.

Caroline Desrosiers:

We're kind of slowing down to talk about these little bits of internet culture, and taking the time to really understand them when normally we just move on. Well, we can't think of a better use of our time.

Will Butler:

No, no, and of course not. And Matthew, I love the description, and the analogy of just sipping on a fine wine. I love that. I love that image.

Matthew Shifrin:

Oh yeah. And it's true.

Will Butler:

Matthew, again, thank you for coming on this journey with us, and I'm so excited to go listen to Blind Guy Travels, it's going to be releasing all through the summer, right?

Matthew Shifrin:

Yeah. Every two weeks, a brand new episode appears.

Will Butler:

Amazing. So everyone, please go, listen and follow along in the journey with Matthew, and Matthew I hope you'll come back someday. Maybe you'll bring your own memes.

Matthew Shifrin:

Oh, of course. I'd love to.

Caroline Desrosiers:

[inaudible 00:40:05].

Will Butler:

Say My Meme is officially back for season two, and if you want to be a part of Say My Meme, send an email to hello@saymymeme.com.