If you’ve never encountered YouTube Poop, you’ve probably never delved too deep into that weird side of the internet. I can’t precisely recall how I first stumbled across it, but it’s something you can’t forget when you do. As one of the most confrontational and polarising forms of YouTube content, it’s widely seen as large-scale trolling. Even its moniker is off-putting. However, is there something of merit in the folds of their merciless edits? The deeper you fall into its aggressive charms, the more it warrants analysis. Firstly, for the uninitiated, exactly what is a YouTube Poop?
Many researchers and fans trace its true beginnings back to 2004. Confused by the inclusion of Windows Movie Maker on his new PC, a young Matt Mulligan (known online as “SuperYoshi“) made history when he imported a random episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 into the program to play around with. In essence, Mulligan did nothing more than tinker with the program’s features out of pure curiosity. Many YouTube viewers contend that the results should be in a hypothetical internet museum. For its influence, perhaps there’s truth to that. For its artfulness and quality at face-value would be a stretch; yet, with the subjectivity of art, it would be worth letting you judge for yourself:
I’d Say He’s Hot On Our Tail
This was made on December 22, 2004. I had recently installed Windows XP on my computer and noticed the program Windows Movie Maker. I didn’t know what the hell it did; so I imported Recycled Koopa, and this is the result. Originally titled “The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 REMIXED!!!“, I submitted it to Sheezyart and people loved it.
– Matt Mulligan in a YouTube Poop Wiki description
Admittedly, I find very little to enjoy about I’d Say He’s Hot On Our Tail (as it’s since been titled). In its early days it was, probably, nothing more than the subversion of expectation that caused adolescent giggles. Mulligan embraced the unpredictable reception he received. Through watching his early releases, it’s hard to conclude whether his development was conscious or merely the result of further experimentation. Nonetheless, he did show a definite improvement in comic timing. Essentially, these early “poops” are deliberately terrible from an editing standpoint. Assessing them on those grounds is unfair.
What people like Mulligan, and other early innovators, blazed a trail with was something quite ahead of its time. Instead of being an exercise in high-quality editing, the appeal is elsewhere. In later works in particular – like LUIGI IS RACIST – the skill is in discovering something unintentionally funny and accentuating it in the extreme. One of the founding elements of YouTube Poop is the use of repetition, which is something you can link directly to Mulligan and his contemporaries. This is in no way an invalid approach to comedy. Its power and influence as a comedic device is discussed at length in an inspired routine from Stewart Lee, a highly-respected comedian who utilises techniques strikingly similar in his own work:
Poopisms – Stutter Loops and “Ear-Rape”
In the video above, Lee essentially describes the earliest founding appeal to creating YouTube Poop. Under that light, these videos may have more validity than first considered. Their unconstrained nature also works in their favour. They have a certain punk-like aesthetic. Indeed, much of them are deliberately controversial. Poopers, as they call themselves, are purposefully confrontational. An order quickly arose from their chaos. Clear rules saw themselves set, at first unspoken. Now, what constitutes a poop is quite strictly outlined. While wide-reaching, and incorporating a range of techniques, many of them trace back directly to creators like Mulligan. These are known as “poopisms”.
They boil down to four key disciplines; stutter loops, reversal, ear-rape and sentence mixing. However, there are many defined spin-offs. Advanced poops also use a variety of less prevalent, and more specific, tropes. Stutter loops are simple, but possibly the most integral. They consist of repeating a short snippet of a video indefinitely. Since, stutter loops have taken on a life of their own. Through the use of added effects, and in conjunction with other disciplines, they have had the most influence by far.
They can be devastating when paired with ear-rape, the practice of increasing volume to the point of intense distortion. This is one of the things that makes YouTube Poop unwatchable to many viewers. Poopers, in their considered mischief, like to catch people off-guard with suddenly aggressive audio. In this video, basic stutter loops are showcased with a dash of painful ear-rape. I advise that you decrease your volume:
The Golden Age of YouTube Poop (2007-2009)
Thanks to the influence of early pioneers like Mulligan, and other well-known names like WalrusGuy and Deepercutt, such techniques weren’t the only things to define the genre. In what many describe as the Golden Age, the source material for poops was fairly hemmed in. There were many contributions that used different sources, but you could expect most poops from the time to concentrate on a thinner purview. Of particular interest, and paving the way for future “dank meme” cultures in their repeated use, were cut-scenes from Hotel Mario and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon; two games of notoriously low quality. Other popular materials included Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, King of the Hill and Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
As a result, many in-jokes started to bubble up. The medium became, in some ways, rather musical. Our chromatic scale comprises of only twelve notes, from which all Western music derives. Similarly, YouTube poop could get a surprising longevity from different combinations of the same constituent elements. It was in this time that poopisms saw themselves set in stone. Sentence mixing (more on that soon) and reversal of clips became more common, while stutter loops grew more complex and ambitious. Most consider these years to be the finest, when creativity ran rampant and jokes hadn’t become tired.
The development of YouTube Poop in this time was prolific. In its first months, poopers still seemed unsure what sat in their hands. Inspired by uploads from Mulligan, their derivative nature was obvious from the outset. In this example from Deepercutt, uploaded in 2007, it’s clear that he took more than a leaf from I’d Say He’s Hot On Our Tail‘s book:
Yet, by the end of the so-called Golden Age, Deepercutt and his peers were far more accomplished and individual:
Poopisms – Reversal and Sentence Mixing
In the above video, Deepercutt’s Revenge of the Mad Madman, it’s clear just how intricate certain poopisms had become. Once, reversal was merely another way to play with expectations; a short action, or line of dialogue, would suddenly play in reverse as yet another tinge to the overall collage. Eventually, like many other poopisms, it found itself being used in far more interesting ways. For example, in Revenge of the Mad Madman, a scene from Spider-Man 2 is played (in an albeit edited fashion) where Peter Parker uses his superpowers to deliver pizzas more efficiently. After showing just how much effort he’s gone through to make the delivery, Deepercutt presents the recipient at the end to, in fact, be uninterested in pizza after all. In response, the entire delivery sequence is humorously reversed until Parker finds himself back at his workplace; fired.
Similarly, sentence mixing had come a long way between I’d Say He’s Hot On Our Tail and Revenge of the Mad Madman. Talented poopers like Deepercutt could use sentence mixing to create whatever context they might desire. This meant that the old ties of having Mario call Luigi “gay”, or Dr. Robotnik discussing his “pingas”, no longer applied. What might happen in a YouTube Poop, beyond the use of established poopisms and sources, was down entirely to the imagination of its maker. This is excellently displayed across the previous example, but it may be best to look at another…
One More Final: I Need You(Tube Poop)
Often touted as the death-knell of the Golden Age, One More Final: I Need You(Tube Poop) is also a fine snapshot of how far things had evolved. To those involved in the community, the events depicted within are as sad as they are hilarious. In actuality, and in no uncertain terms, it’s a profound piece of work. Its use of the old standard sources was considered, since WalrusGuy (its creator) was expressing a farewell to YouTube Poop. In addition, its sentiment seems to be one of passing the torch to future poopers; closing the door on an era.
It features all the same humour that followers of YouTube poop came to love. Conversely, it also shows a story of unpredictable emotion. The concentration is on death, with a particular obsession with suicide and feelings of absence. It’s dark and, surprisingly, deep, as there’s yet more to it than mere tragedy. Much of it carries subtext and self-referential nods to the entire genre. It’s a genuinely fitting tribute to the Golden Age as a whole, which was coming to an end as a result of fatigue and an overabundance of contributors.
In a post-credits scene (and I realise the irony of applying such terminology to YouTube Poop), WalrusGuy uses a conspicuously unedited clip of Dr. Rabbit, a character owned by Colgate. This carries with it a lot of significance, considering that his previous use of the character in his work had seen him banned from YouTube. One More Final: I Need You(Tube Poop) is his only official YouTube Poop since the ban. Looking back on his time in the community, it’s actually quite heartwarming that he left with the words of Dr. Rabbit, verbatim and free from stutter loop and ear-rape alike:
Remember what we’ve learned, and keep on smiling!
Enter Michael Rosen
At the very end of the Golden Age, poopers discovered English children’s author and poet, Michael Rosen. As a well-known name in his homeland, he had uploaded a wealth of videos to YouTube of him reading his stories and poems, for the benefit of the children he originally wrote them for. Unfortunately for Rosen, these would prove to be just about the most useful source for newer poopers, since the appeal of Hotel Mario and its kind had waned considerably. With his animated and excitable delivery, Rosen’s performances were just all too poopable (to coin a term).
One of the prime reasons for Golden Age fans becoming disenfranchised was the rise of the sex joke. While it was always a thread, people just got too sick of the prevalence of dick-jokes and their ilk. However, with the advent of Michael Rosen, the possibilities became too endless to explore. Without meaning any disrespect to Rosen, who was once the British Children’s Laureate, he was largely asking for it. Along with his facial expressions and exaggerated actions, his vast library of eloquent verse gave a sentence mixer everything they needed.
Poopisms – Advanced Sentence Mixing with Michael Rosen
Sentence mixing, and word splicing, had never been as elaborate as it became after the discovery of Rosen. He had, practically, said it all. His colourful patter allows for the simple creation of profanity and inappropriate language, but he also seemed to do half the work for the poopers. Entire sentences, and sometimes poems, would walk right into the hands of poopers, barely needing any editing to appear amusing and rude.
In the most sprawling, and impressive, poops, entire fractal storylines have been weaved from his humble recitals. ThePlamzJoker, a more modern pooper, has taken this approach to new heights. In what is, surely, the most enterprising YouTube Poop project conceived, he takes Rosen on a surreal science-fiction journey, well over an hour in length. Known as the Tomato saga, the use of sentence mixing and word splicing within has to be seen to be believed. I’ll be the first to admit that this is an extremely tough watch but, for those who can brave its challenging waters, it’s rewarding in equal measure. While, on the surface, it’s a messy mish-mash of someone else’s content, there’s more to keep in mind.
Across the course of this epic, ThePlamzJoker’s command of comedic timing and sensibilities develops considerably. It’s evident that there’s thought and method behind the splicing. The fact that the production seems of low-quality is actually an inherent feature of the medium; a feature that ThePlamzJoker uses to great effect intentionally. To go along with this, the story is something he’s constructed on his own. A lot of the time, his sentence mixing is so well-accomplished that Rosen is, simply, dictating from a script written by the pooper. I’ve not seen these practices done better than in Tomato, and it’s proof that poopers are far more than trolls.
Poopisms – Advanced Stutter Loops and Effects with Michael Rosen
Editing is at is most extreme almost completely in the sub-genre of Rosen YouTube Poops. The above is just a short sample of a rabbit hole that takes up countless hours of YouTube’s servers. Certain videos are nothing more than a test of patience; stuttering at every turn without a second’s coherence. These are some of the less artful contributions. That said, there remains a nugget of musicality within that you can’t ignore. With the addition of effects, stutter loops create a genre all of their own. Musicality becomes a feature of the visuals as much the audio.
Many of these effects actually grasped what makes Snapchat filters so popular years before they took off. Long before these filters allowed you to contort, inflate or otherwise manipulate your features in various ways, YouTube Poop was doing just that to Rosen and a myriad of other subjects. While it’s difficult to praise this flavour of YouTube Poop for its depth, or on an analytical basis, such advanced poopisms are undeniably hilarious. That is, when applied properly. There’s a lot of truth to the assertion that the Golden Era was a richer vintage. Once it was over, far too many people were trying their hand at YouTube Poop. This, partly, gave it a bad name. Yet, through it all, a sincere flame of comedic quality flickered.
Bringing it All Together: The Fesh Pince of Blair
While some of my analysis on Rosen and more advanced techniques began to jump into more modern examples, it’s worth taking a quick look back to 2011 before rounding up these musings on YouTube Poop. At the very end of that year, in December, a YouTube user named Dikekike (now known as KroboProductions) uploaded The Fesh Pince of Blair. Two years after the end of the Golden Age, this would bring together all the approaches that came before it and master them. Using three episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and a few other sources for good measure, this twenty minute gem plays like a surreal episode of its parent show. It feels like the Fresh Prince, only broadcast from some bizarre and nightmarish other dimension.
Most importantly, it’s very funny. In fact, its two editions (a sequel, Uncle Phil Yiffs in Heaven Again, followed) are more quotable than its source material, of which i’m a huge fan. Within the YouTube Poop community, it’s widely revered as a cult-favourite. Personally, and I know i’m not alone in this opinion, I believe it to be the very finest specimen of its kind. From its intelligent use of established poopisms to its adept understanding of humour, it truly fired on all cylinders. Much like Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Mr. Show, it uses some truly brilliant methods of pulling together previously disparate scenes into an interconnected whole. There’s a madcap coherence to it that pitches it at a far higher level than much of its kin. If you only watch one YouTube Poop in your life, I recommend you make it this one:
The Influence and Evolution of YouTube Poop
The influence that this odd sub-culture has had shouldn’t be underestimated. The society of memes we live in owes much to YouTube Poop. It carved out many of the beats we now recognise as commonplace in our everyday humour. Its lack of huge-scale popularity is due, mainly, to its abrasive nature. For me, this confrontation is the very thing that makes it stand out. We all sense how watered down our entertainment has become. Even on the internet, where freedom reigns, we’ve seen widespread infiltration from gate-kept yes-men. YouTube Poop is a reaction, and remedy, to the sickly feelings we get from the digestible mush that floods our screens and speakers.
The Important Videos playlist, which has become a go-to pit-stop for memesters of all kinds, has salient connections to the world of YouTube Poop before it. Watching Important Videos, it doesn’t take long to notice that each of them relies on the use of an isolated poopism. Perhaps this is what makes memes more popular than its antiquated fore-bearers. Where YouTube Poop will leap directly overboard with as many poopisms as it can, memes calm down and focus. In that sense, has YouTube Poop evolved into something else as opposed to dying a shameful, tedious death?
There are also noteworthy similarities between the axioms of YouTube Poop and comedians like Tim & Eric. With both developing styles with much in common, and at around the same time, it’s easy to assume that they would have effected each other. Likewise, the wildly beloved output of Super Deluxe and its brethren seems to be firmly in the same ball-park. What’s truly intelligent about the developments of Super Deluxe is how they’ve maintained a subversive appeal while formally smoothing the edges of YouTube Poop’s indiscipline. Again, this suggests an evolution of the form.
Poopisms in Secret Cave
As one final point, it would be interesting to note the ways in which the techniques have found their way to Secret Cave. In a recent post, we presented our latest original venture; the SCP Mini. As a quick description, they basically consist of around two minutes of footage edited by Benjamin (Secret Cave‘s co-founder). The original thrust of these was to compress our traditional podcasts into a more share-able context, using quotes from our interview guests and supporting footage. Eventually, Benjamin began making other short-form content that we released under the same SCP Mini label.
Blissfully unaware of it, Benjamin has been using poopisms en-masse all along. Having not yet fallen down the YouTube Poop rabbit hole, this article will be his first real excursion into the primordial goo from which he draws. Consequently, I do wonder to what degree these closing paragraphs will take him by surprise. Regardless, I doubt he could shuffle his way out of disagreeing with my belief that the above example, and others in our own playlist, are closer to the subjects of this article than he might feel comfortable with. Personally, I think it’s poetic that expression can have these evolutionary tendrils in the digital world. I think there’s something beautiful in the embryonic majesty of YouTube Poop. Once you’ve learned your poopisms, you’ll start to see them everywhere…
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