peanut butter jelly time2002 was my freshman year of college. Streaming video was still something of a novelty, and it was the first time I'd experienced connection speeds faster than 56k. That's when I discovered this, a music video of a squirrel with a high-pitched voice singing Violent Femmes-style lyrics about "gonads and strife."

My mind was blown, having never experienced anything like it in my life. My roommates and I must have watched it dozens of times. Sure I'd seen comedic absurdism before on Monty Python's Flying Circus and some late-night Adult Swim stuff like Space Ghost Coast to Coast, but this upped the ante in a big way. It was the age of eBaumsworld and Albinoblacksheep, a weird antediluvian period after the advent of streaming video but before the creation of YouTube, when bizarre absurdist content thrived but still felt fresh and exciting. My friends and I couldn't believe the stuff that we'd see on the web.

But does this sort of thing hold up today?

Here was another big hit from around the same time. It's also indicative of the absurdity that was so popular then.

Warning: Most Videos Contains Swears

Yatta


Chances are you've seen a hundred similar "lol Japan" videos at this point. In the early '00s though? Not so much. Remember Andy Milonakis? I challenge you to watch this whole thing:

The Superbowl Is Gay


Ugh. If someone sent this in to the Urlesque tips line I would have audibly yelled, "NOPE!" and closed that tab within seconds. Back in the early '00s though? The kid got his own show on MTV. If that doesn't say something about how the appreciation of humor on the web has evolved over the last decade, I don't know what does.

Why? There's just so much absurdism on the web that this level of weirdness has become the norm. There are thousands of videos posted on YouTube each year that probably would have gone viral a decade ago. Created content can't just be "lol random" anymore to go hugely viral. It has to be smart, or at least touch on some broader cultural reference.

Secondly, the barriers to entry are as low as your little sister putting the words "farty buttz" into your mom's computer's text-to-speech application. Anyboy can make a video that is "OMG so random." We've moved on.

A caveat: There is still plenty of satisfying absurdism on the web, but it's not manufactured. Earlier I covered the "Wat" phenomeonon, which is a celebration of images and videos that make absolutely no sense. However, the absurdity of these "random" bits of cultural ephemera is almost always organic, derived from some real-life situation or unintentionally hilarious scenarios. It's never some kid at his keyboard thinking, "Huh huh, what if I just put a talking butt with two legs that says, "Ding dong!" and then just walks offscreen?"

I say that the age of creative absurdism on the web is over. You'll never see YouTube Poop on Jimmy Kimmel or see another We Love the Subs, is what I mean.

Here are a few more videos to celebrate that weird, wild era. Pour one out for these forgotten web stars.

Mario Twins



Space People



Peanut Butter Jelly Time



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