March 24, 2009

One Picture, Two Memes: A Blowtorch Guide to Making Jokes

Sometimes I like to do some behind the scenes education for the kids. Today's post is about generating memes. Kids today know a lot about memes, but sometimes they don't know how to make them. But thanks to the ShareBro Meme Incubation Conclave, and careful study with noted meme creator, Carles, I've become fairly proficient at making memes from things.

Here is today's course material:

blowtorch breakdown

By following along, you will see that by using a single picture, we will generate two memes of different stickiness1.

Here is our source material:As you can see, it is a picture of Rashad McCants, Reggie Evans, and Andre Miller from a recent Kings/76ers basketball game. Let's make our first meme!


Our first meme is a basic meme, which tend to be stickier than higher level memes. This meme begins with Rashad McCants' face, which appears to have been distorted at the time of this photograph. Upon seeing his confused look and open mouth, I instantly noticed that he looked similar to the Jamie Foxx character in the upcoming motion picture The Soloist.

By isolating McCants' face and placing it next to a screencapture of Foxx's face from the upcoming motion picture The Soloist, we have created a basic meme:

Now a lot of blogs will stop at the basic meme. Because it's an easy joke and has maximum stickiness2, this is a pretty sound model for generating bloggable content. However, there is even greater comedic potential if we delve deeper in to the source material.


We will now generate a high level meme. High level memes require both the generator and the audience to be familiar with numerous aspects of popular culture, sometimes from bygone eras.

For this high level meme, we will isolate the entirety of Reggie Evans. As you can see in our source material, Evans appears to be pleading with the referee for some unknown injustice. You will also note that he is bald and is seemingly pockmarked (though this may just be beard follicles).

Now to generate the meme, I immediately thought of how similar Reggie Evans looked to the musician Seal. I then referenced Seal's #1 hit "Kiss From a Rose." By overlaying a particularly appropriate stanza from this beautiful song, I have created a high level meme. However, in order for this meme to be successful, I'm assuming the audience a) agrees that Reggie Evans looks like Seal, b) they know the hit song "Kiss From a Rose," and c) they realize that this lyric of desperation correlates with the look on Evans' face. Because all three of these factors must be agreed upon, this meme is significantly less sticky. It is through the use of high level memes that the Blowtorch has gained critical acclaim while not often crossing over to mainstream audiences.


Not everything is deserving of a meme. As noted on today's guide, Andre Miller's grimace does not strike me as particularly memeworthy. This is, in part, because Andre Miller is likely the least interesting person to ever play professional basketball. However, to each his own meme. If you feel this is memeworthy, by all means, create and share your meme.


I hope that this tutorial on Blowtorch meme generation has proven both educational and insightful. I may have given away some secrets, but the great thing about memes is that they belong to all of us. The Internet will support an infinite amount of memes, but only the best will receive international acclaim. Good luck in your own meme generation, and remember, have fun!

  1. Stickiness is how long-lasting the meme is. It is a scientific measure of how many people are aware and use the meme.
  2. In this case, it could be suggested that The Soloist become a McCants nickname.

1 comment:

carbs said...

You and KD must have conspired on today's double Seal reference. I'm on to you, gman.