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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Jennifer Wong

Jennifer Wong: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet)

Wong’s list, brimming with unexpected joys.
‘There’s nothing inherently funny, but …’: Jennifer Wong’s list, brimming with unexpected joys Photograph: Supplied

In a list of 10 things I find funny on the internet, two of them involve pasta. This ratio feels right for a food enthusiast. Carbs aside, you’ll also find my love of the deadpan interviewer format, nods to my Hong Kong and Cantonese background, my enthusiasm for language and my delight for spotting moments of joy and potential art disasters involving 600-year-old tapestries.

1. Penne pasta makes a phone call

This New Yorker cartoon is one of my favourite things in the world. I think about it at least once a week. There’s so much going on: the idea of pastas being friends and keeping in touch, the perfect characterisation of fusilli as a crazy bastard – even the cartoonist Charles Barsotti’s squiggly spaghetti of a signature delights me.

2. The Renaissance v Beyoncé

The wide-eyed deadpan interviewer Philomena Cunk, played by Diane Morgan, asks real experts questions about history and culture. Like this one: “Which was more culturally significant: the Renaissance, or Single Ladies by Beyoncé?” The fact that the experts take these questions seriously means that Cunk can escalate the comedy with pointed follow-up questions. For example, Cunk asks a professor of Egyptology something we’ve all wondered: “How did the Egyptians build the pyramids? Did they start at the top and work down, or start at the bottom and work up?”

3. Wistful movie parodies from Hong Kong

The format of Water Wild Month’s Instagram reels is simple and hilarious: what something is like in real life versus what something is like in the movies. Using repeat characters (one expressively faced actor, Shawn Fung, appears in almost all videos, which he writes and directs) and real-life locations around Hong Kong, the talented film-makers make me cry from laughing. Also, the reels are shot sumptuously like films, lending a romance to Hong Kong that only adds to their parody power.

4. If Thomas the Tank Engine had limbs

I have also cried from laughing at this Instagram account where various Thomas the Tank Engine toys have been altered to include plastic arms and legs. The toys then travel in various configurations on a plastic train track, bringing to mind synchronised swimming if synchronised swimming happened on land and there’d been an accident at the toy factory. It really takes anthropomorphism to a new level.

5. How to sell a new pasta that’s very long

I could watch Brian Park all day. His reels feature him in pretend situations, such as a creative meeting for the launch of a pasta that’s very long, and he nails the language beautifully in each scenario. “What is the core narrative?” he asks. “More pasta? More love? More more?” Endlessly creative, effortlessly performed.

6. Forest xylophone plays Bach

In a Japanese forest, a small wooden ball rolls down an elaborately constructed wooden structure and with each plonk of the ball, a musical note plays Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. I don’t think the intention of this video is to make people laugh but it does make me laugh. The sheer commitment to building this incredibly long and intricate structure; the vulnerability of the single wooden ball as it rolls and falls while surrounded by tall trees that could very well be its ancestors. On and on it rolls and plonks for three incredible minutes. Bach would probably be delighted.

7. Don’t wear such a big hat if you haven’t got a big enough head

As a Cantonese speaker, I adore this Instagram account which shares a Cantonese phrase of the day, usually slang phrases and very colloquial language with excellent imagery. Another favourite: “Even dragon meat tastes like nothing”, meaning one’s mood is so negative that they completely lose their appetite.

Succession meets Taylor Swift

This Tom Greg montage set to You Belong With Me delighted me even more after watching the Succession finale this week. The duo really do belong together and all that’s missing is Tom placing a sticker on Greg’s forehead to mark him as a most coveted item.

9. Cleaning a 600-year-old tapestry

There’s nothing inherently funny about the Met museum cleaning a 600-year-old tapestry. But when I first saw this, my whole body went cold and a little voice in my brain went: “Imagine if they realised it actually wasn’t supposed to get wet.” Somewhere in my brain, the thought existed of a Julius Caesar tapestry having a “dry clean only” tag. Mistakes are funny, so the potential horror of realising a valuable item is mistakenly submerged in liquids – I guess at that point all you can do is laugh.

10. Coffee expert reviews wooden toys

The marvellously knowledgable James Hoffmann brings such nerdy enthusiasm to his videos about all things coffee-related – as he does so here in his review for two wooden coffee machine toys for children. I love that he applies his real-world coffee knowledge to two simple toys and I also love his genuine delight in a bakery feature in one of them. It’s a pure joy.

  • Jennifer Wong’s standup show, Jennifer Wong Has No Peripheral Vision, is playing in Brisbane, Wagga Wagga and Canberra in June and July

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