The concept of a joke is a very old one. The word comes from Latin, and the Latin word is from the Proto-Indo-European root "to speak." The idea of joking is as old as the idea of language itself. Dick jokes are basically antiques, and should be carefully wrapped up like the precious gifts they are. Shlong wang trouser snake.
Depending on how you look at it, jokes and joking being as ancient as they are, it seems that in 2015, all jokes should either be perfectly crafted comedy goldmines or utterly disgraceful fusterclucks of a soup sandwich, since all the good material has already been used up. As it happens, modern jokes are kind of a mix of both. But sometimes, jokesters manage to craft a prank so egregiously ill-wrought that the damn thing nearly destroys either the joker or their victim in catastrophic ways. How does a joke ruin your life, you ask? You'd be surprised. Hilariously so!
#5. Kitty Porn
Who hasn't been in a situation in which a goofball friend emails them porn? I spent the better part of my college days receiving pornographic images of transgender people, grandmothers, large groups of friendly gay fellows, amputees, little people, and those with weak bladders from one of my friends -- who, in retrospect, had a lot of dysfunction in his life. To a very specific kind of person, nothing is funnier than sending pornography to someone whom they know doesn't actually want to receive it. This person is often called an "unfunny asshole." But there are a lot of them out there.
"It's funny because I made them look at butts!"
By and large, receiving unsolicited porn is a minor inconvenience in your day. You open an email, and then either make a face and delete it or kind of nod a little and save the files for later. Such was not the case for Andrew Holland. A friend sent him a video of a woman having sex with a tiger. As a result, Holland was arrested and put on bail for six months. When word got out, he was harassed so mercilessly by online vigilantes that he suffered a near-fatal heart attack. He lost his job, and was forced out of town by the relentless harassment, which included physical beatings. He was also labelled a pedophile by people who just started to make guesses as to what he was charged with, which caused him to lose contact with his daughter for over a year. And to this, you might think "Good, that's what you get for having sick porn on your computer." Except he didn't.
As it turned out, the tiger in the video was actually a man in a tiger suit. Somehow, in defiance of logic and the ability to both see and hear things, no one noticed until after this debacle spiraled into an utter shitstorm of life-ruining stupidity that the tiger in the video could speak, and said things like "They're grrrrrrrreat!" And let's not forget, it was also a man in a suit. When have you ever confused a man in a suit with the real thing?
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"Are you insane?! Stop dancing! Run, run for your lives!"
How did Holland get victimized so brutally? He was the first victim of a newly-enacted law against "extreme pornography," and prosecutors wanted a great case to use as their first one. So they prosecuted the shit out of him without anyone ever stopping to watch the video. It wasn't until he'd been through several rounds in court that someone took the time to listen to the audio and discovered that the "cat" could talk, resulting in charges being dropped. But the damage was already done.
So let this be a lesson to you porn-sharers: You may destroy the lives of your friends. So only do it if it's funny enough.
#4. Justine Sacco's Twitter
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Do you remember Justine Sacco? She became infamous in 2013 when she went to South Africa. With one single tweet from an airport, she literally ruined her own life. No hyperbole or anything; she screwed herself like a light bulb in a whirlpool, and even became the inspiration for the book So You've Been Publicly Shamed. What terrible thing did Sacco do? She made a joke. This joke:
Let it soak in for a moment. Roll it on the tongue and get a good feel for it. What is it? A bad-taste joke? Sure. What did it mean? What would happen if you had said it? For Justine, it meant viral insanity. She tweeted right before getting on an airplane, and had no access to Twitter for the entire 11-hour flight. When she landed, she got a text from a friend saying that she was sorry. "Sorry for what?" Sacco wondered. Then the shit hit the fan.
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Sorry, I mean the #shit hit the #fan.
Sacco was the #1 trending topic on Twitter across the entire world. Hundreds of thousands of people had retweeted or responded with disgust. The company she worked for (as a PR person, no less) had announced that they found it outrageous and offensive, but that the employee in question was unreachable.
You could follow in real time the storm of madness, and the eventual realization everyone had that they were ahead of Sacco in this game. The anger was mixed with excitement, as people realized she didn't know any of this was going on. So they were now all in on the counter-joke, which was going to be her landing and discovering that her life was over, all in real time. In fact, someone went to the airport just to snap a pic of her when she got off the plane.
"What a creep."
Sacco lost her job. Workers in Africa threatened to walk off the job at the hotels she was booked to stay at. The world was raining shit down upon her, and it wasn't stopping. Imagine one of your stupider moments being held aloft for the world -- the entire world -- to see and make fun of and criticize. That was what Sacco had done to herself. She made herself a villain solely through sucking at telling jokes.
#3. The Talk Show Mom Fake-Out
Remember when you were a 13-year-old girl? I sure do. And with being a 13-year-old girl in mind, you can probably imagine how strange and difficult it would be to have your mother move away many years earlier to live in another country, leaving you behind. Such was the story of Autumn Allen, a girl in Cambodia whose mother had moved to the US at least seven years earlier, and had not seen her daughter since. Lucky for Autumn, a show called Like It Or Not was having a Mother's Day special, and promised to reunite her with her estranged mom-- ohmygod who's chopping onions in here?
Some sources say that Autumn hadn't seen her mom in a decade, which would have made her three when her mom left. So it's not hard to understand why the girl said it would have been a dream come true to actually meet her mom on the show. It's also not hard to understand why she started crying when local pseudo-funnyman Chuop Rolin came out dressed in drag pretending to be the girl's mom while the host mocked her for believing they were actually going to follow through on their promise. Stupid eighth-grade girl, having hopes and dreams based on the promises of adults! You idiot!
That'll learn her to express emotion!
You'll be happy to know that publicly devastating a child is not a cultural thing. It's actually frowned upon just about everywhere, except on TLC. The Cambodian audience was quick to express their disgust with the show, to the point where the producers eventually sent the girl a letter of apology. She gracefully accepted, and made a statement saying that she didn't think they were trying to be malicious -- which was nice of her, since it seems like that was all they were trying to do.
Like, really hard.