No aspect of the web culture has become more prolific than the Meme.
A Meme is like a viral video, in that it often spreads virally, but is more like a mad-lib: it provides you with a general structure & image and you fill in the blanks to get laughs. The real beauty of the meme is the seemingly infinite number of combinations that can come from such simple parts.
Nowhere can the proliferation of Memes be more clearly demonstrated than in the local phenomenon that is: Cape Shore Memes.
The idea is simple: find an element of Newfoundland culture (past/present, political/pop), add a caption or comment and hope people laugh. And people must be friggin laughing: at 95,000 Facebook likes, they have as many followers as Hey Rosetta and the IceCaps combined.
The page itself was created five years ago by a figure known as ‘The Bay Man.” Back then it was just a place to post re-imaginings of the now famous Jeff Foxworthy bit “you might be a redneck if” with “you might be a Bayman if.”
Since then the page has pumped out original content and even started a number of their own memes, perhaps the most famous being the “Newfie word of the day.”
Since then it has grown to become arguably the most popular source of Newfoundland humour on the web.
I spoke with one of the three administrators of the page; a fellow who will remain nameless but said that I could refer to him as “The Meme King”:
“We get a lot of messages. I can’t stress it enough, like, a lot of ‘newfie word of the day jokes’” The Meme King explains. “People send me a lot of stuff, personally sometimes, saying ‘put this up on your page, this is hilarious!’… I gotta let my buddies down easy like, y’know, ‘you gotta work on that.’”
But while the suggestions are constant, The Meme King says that most of the content of the Cape Shore Memes page comes from himself and two other administrators. The Meme King says they have never all met in person. They each keep their identities anonymous and their participation in the page as much of a secret as possible.
“Some of the closest people too me – I have to let them know – mostly because they are around me half the time when I’m making them. A lot of my buddies are really funny guys so they can be an inspiration. But for the most part I find it cool that we keep anonymous. And at the end of the day, why would people wanna know who we are?”
The Meme King says that much of the content is motivated by current affairs; a kind of modern take on editorial cartoons. The page takes up classic joke-telling tropes that can be seen in Codco, Buddy Wassisname, and other folk-comedy acts and makes them wildly accessible in a way never before possible.
As far as plans for the future, The Meme King says that he and the other two administrators plan to actually meet this summer when they have some time off from their jobs – all of whom work flat-out as tradespeople – and try and find a way to make an honest buck from their mountain of material.