What is Brainrot Humor?

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The days of relatable memes have passed. Tik-tok, Instagram Reels and X have been infested with a new form of absurdist humor: “Brainrot.” (Photo courtesy of Christopher Pharr)

For the past few years, a new form of meme has taken the internet by storm. Commonly referred to as “brainrot”, the series of meme entails anything considered to be brainless humor, without artistic or thought-provoking value,“rotting” the brain of the viewer.

Unlike other classic memes, brainrot does not feature a singular character, but instead is a collection of a vast amount of internet “in-jokes.” Over time, “meme culture” has adopted characters such as Sheldon Cooper (of Young Sheldon), Freddy Fazbear, Skibidi Toilet and many others.

Some brainrot content is also made to just be sensually overwhelming, such as Tik-tok user prollyjack’s popular over-edited clip from the show “Young Sheldon.” Most brainrot approaches humor from an absurdist point of view, not aiming for any “reason” for funniness. 

One of the most famous and representative examples of brainrot comes from user_092848293, in which a man repeats many mindless internet phrases in a monotone voice,“Level 5-gyatt rizz, Livvy Dunne rizzing up Baby Gronk, Ice Spice what the dog doin? Skibidi Toilet in real life only in ohio, we go jim, Zyzz, creatine alpha sigma cuh dey boad. [sic]”

While together meaning absolutely nothing, each of the terms used in that word-soup has extensive context in meme culture. Plugging any of those keywords into KnowYourMeme will pop up with countless results.

This form of humor may seem like slop to most, but brainrot may have more profound cultural influence than most think. Internet jokes pulled from video games, movies, and different spheres of interest across the internet combine into a collective consciousness of shared laughter.

Internet humor has constantly evolved throughout the years, from Lolcats and Advice Animals in the mid-2000’s, to MeIRL memes throughout the 2010’s. As the trend of brainrot continues to grow, it is overwhelmingly clear we are entering into a new absurdist era of internet humor.

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