There are certain world events that have undeniably shaped the members of Generation Y, including the Great Recession and the time Taylor Swift got the inspiration for a terrible song she would bitterly release years later. There is one generation-defining event, however, that is unlikely to be recognized by the majority of historians as impactful in any way. I am talking, of course, about the death of Vine.
Vine was huge: millennials everywhere dealt in Vine references, made videos of themselves experimenting with the medium and derived such slang as “on fleek” and “yeet” from the ultra-consumable six-second viral videos. The app was perfect entertainment as you could scroll through people’s brief videos for hours, watch one a million times, unpack it with your friends and still walk away wanting more.
Sadly, the app and its accompanying references ultimately faded from relevance, and so did its pervasiveness in youth culture. Some key terms did happen to catch on lexically (the fleeks and the yeets) and gained traction completely separate from the app. But just as nobody’s eyebrows are on fleek any longer, every Vine reference seems to have quietly exited from people’s vocabulary and the cultural landscape in general.
In the past few months, however, I’ve noticed an opposite trend, in which a growing number of people making subtler nods to Vine’s legacy. If you can hang, you’ve probably caught a cool friend of yours slip a reference into casual conversation every now and then as well. Doing so suggests hipness to, and a nuanced appreciation for, what was once so ubiquitous and is now somewhat underground.
Essentially, making Vine references can be cooler now than it was in 2014; which allusions you do or don’t get indicates, in a sense, how enriched you are in internet lore and where exactly your cultural intelligence lies. Making a solid and obscure reference tells your peers just how into stupid, experimental internet humor you are. Even if no one around you is actively making references of this nature, someone in your circle is bound to pick up on a joke if you make it.
So, whether you were on the frontline of Vine at its peak, or you’re just now joining the party like myself, here are some underrated Vines that are worth referencing. These may not have sparked any revolutionary memes, copycat videos or slang terms that received Merriam-Webster-level recognition, but they are iconic in their own right and are necessary to show that you’re well-versed in the app and its less obvious offerings. Tipping your cap to these Vines will show you to be a worthy and gripping conversationalist, and put you on a more intimate plane with other docents for this finely aging brand of dumb humor.
1. “Fuck it up, Kenneth”
No one has ever served a look quite like Kenneth did that day: Whether it was his first day back after summer vacation or just another school day, he was killing it – fresh threads and poses included.
Referencing this Vine is also the perfect opportunity to show appreciation for those in your life who slay; simply emulate the speaker’s words of encouragement for young Kenneth by being as avid a supporter of a friend’s aesthetic. Not only will you have a good laugh, but also a confidence boost for your pal.
2. “I’m Liberian”
Shakespearean-level wordplay, an uncomplicated setup and a punchline that’s a bit of a thinker: Is this not what Vine embodied all along?
This one is a classic from the serious setup and dumb payoff to the stern commitment with which the punchline was delivered. Whispering “a child” as an answer to select in-conversation questions will never be unfunny.
Such a stoic and oddly inappropriate response to being woken up by having water poured on your face. I really just hope she’s all right, but, even if not, I’m glad she greeted a liquid like she would any person she didn’t immediately recognize.
It haunts me how good this guy is at his job and how tepid a response he’s met with. I’ve never seen anyone spin a sign at this velocity and with such agility and precision, but the individual filming was unmoved, and confused even.
Snubbing the man’s talents, they commented instead on the lone counterproductive effect that his gift has on the root of his job (which, I concede, is directing patrons to Quizno’s). It’s sad, but hysterical that she zags this way and brings the attention to his one flaw rather than his many strengths.
Also known as “Grandma falling toward dresser during ping-pong,” or more simply “Whoa!” It’s not that it’s funny seeing old people get hurt; it’s just that this person’s elderly mother went in so hard when the stakes were so low; as a result, she not only disrupted their game of table tennis but shattered some plates along the way.
Her little spill really changed the course of their evening, I can guarantee you that.
7. “‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ cybergoth,” or at least that’s what I Googled to find it
Here’s a meeting of everything you hold dear: the whiny, mid-2000s sound of Panic! At the Disco, monochromatic onesies and mocking a fringe dance craze by expertly mastering it. That may only be what I hold dear, but there’s at least one thing in there for you I’m sure. What you have here is a Vine that’s hard to reference outright, but with the right pal and the right overlap of your senses of humor, you’re in for a good laugh and a weirdly specific knowledge of what the other finds funny.
You’re out with your good friend, some hot T is brewing and you have to, in some way, communicate about it, though completely nonverbally. You find a way because, fortunately, you’re at the point where you can speak through imperative eye contact and fervent gesticulations alone – even with your mouths full.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but this is where all of your friendships should shoot for.
Sometimes the funniest thing to say is absolutely nothing at all, and to simply talk in a circle instead. Going into it the first time, I didn’t think this guy was going to be funny, but he really won me over in the second half of the video.
What he delivered was such an unexpected and (in the best way) profoundly stupid payoff that I can’t say I saw coming. More than anything, I come away from this Vine with respect.
10. “Is anybody in here??”
Do you ever find something so stupid that it’s also so, so hilarious? The guy here is just doing his part, being polite and conscientious, but no one will throw him a bone and answer a simple question. His face in the last frame is “sheesh” personified and his perturbed, “what the heck; come on, guys” neck motion adds sincerity and depth to his tangible frustration.
11. “Uh, I’m not finished”
So good. The theme of palpable tension makes yet another appearance here. There are few things more inherently human than accidentally talking over someone and Vine brought that to life along with the sheer aggravation that it inflicts on the interrupted; poor Tyler was only trying to cook, and couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
I think everyone has walked his same path before, will do so again and will have a solid comeback the next time it happens to them.
12. “Hi, my name is Eminem”
That’s right – ridicule him! Even though I think people are back to liking Eminem, poking a little fun at him never hurts.
The dub, first of all, provides an uncanny impersonation of him. Then there’s the rap itself, and finally, there’s the delighted and stupid reaction of one particularly enthralled audience member. Her over-impressed “Oh my God” makes the whole thing, eclipsing even real-life Eminem’s career.
13. “What’s your name?”
Leave it to a Vine to have the slightest of curveballs drive a joke home in five seconds. Seeing such a collective overreaction to something completely meaningless is the kind of humor I’ve been waiting for, too.
It’s also worth noting that the meat of the joke was done by the third second; I like to imagine this group brainstorming how to spend the last two seconds, and deciding that they would end by choking the one girl as they end up doing. The freakiness and obscurity surrounding the last bit makes it match the first half in quality, without question.
I want to meet the person who was listening to the sweet “Demons” and thought, “I should desecrate this with an ‘It’s Always Sunny’ reference.” Fans of the show will immediately recognize the crude joke and why, in relation to Imagine Dragons lyrics, it’s especially funny here.
Saying this phrase altogether will put a spring in your step while giving you a moment to refine your Danny DeVito impression.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Admit it, you were rooting against this guy from the moment he opened his mouth. He did nothing but brag about his free taco (while sporting a less-than-PC mock accent) and, truthfully, got exactly what was coming to him. Layer the somber Enya song over the incident and you’re engrossed in a fully realized narrative.
16. “This bitch empty; yeet”
Same! Honestly, what more is there to comment on other than the fact that Vine had gotten self-referential by this point, with “yeet” appearing in different iterations independent of one another? Oh, and whoever got hit with the can – I hope they realize how worth it their pain was.
Same, still. Yet another kid who went in cockily and quickly learned he’d overestimated himself. I’m sure most can extend some empathy his way; however, it’s best he find out as early in life as he can just how dreadful vodka is.
Also, there’s some mystery shrouding the person filming this Vine; it could be an equally clueless kid around his age or someone older who’s egging him on for kicks. Either way, the takeaway from this, and a number of other Vines, is that the abuse of one’s white privilege by co-opting traditionally black linguistic features will instantly come back to bite you. On Vine, justice lives on in the form of fallen, free-of-cost tacos and vodka someone had to spit out.
Watch as the Rachel Carson of today gives a cost efficient, everyday way to be more environmentally friendly. Drunk or not, she perfectly hit the word “bitch” with accompanying choreography, so I trust her judgment. Let her soak and wash herself in peace, please.
19. “Suck my ass”
Look, nobody’s perfect: Everyone’s gotten ahead of themselves in the moment and taken a little too long to hatch up a rebuttal. The thing is, she was going strong with “suck my ass,” but started to stumble only afterwards.
“Suck my ass” – a misheard, riffed-on “kiss my ass” – should’ve been the weak link in this scenario; but her words ring true, as she’s on the same playing field as her haters, being no good or better than anybody else.
Imagine, if you will, the opulence of an elevator anyone nearby can see into; the security one must feel with themselves to literally dance as if no one were watching; and the use of the “Kill Bill” siren, but under swaggier circumstances. This kid ought to get together with the guy spinning the Quizno’s sign from before – wouldn’t that be wild?
If I could sit down with any person, dead or alive, and pick their brain, I would pick the two women in this video; I have to know if they were flattered and swooning over his declarations or horrified because the song only had one chord to it. Yet another of Vine’s greatest mysteries.
With socks that high and humility that bubbly and pervasive, any one of us would be lucky to be half the dad this guy most certainly is. For someone whose glory days coincided with the height of the Macarena, he’s adapting with astonishing speed and grace to more current dances and coyly showing off that knowledge.
What makes things even more dad-like is that these aren’t even relevant dances anymore; referencing this long-outdated Vine exactly as it is should bring you that much closer to fatherhood.
23. “I like that laugh”
First of all, journalists have some of the toughest jobs. I’m sure this interviewer didn’t go into work that day thinking Justin Bieber would make fun of how she laughed, but she undoubtedly thought about it for her entire ride home. Does she have a terrible laugh? Absolutely, but the whole world didn’t have to know that, Justin.
While I’m thinking about it, this also serves as proof that Justin Bieber was never well-socialized; the interviewer probably thought very briefly, “Wow, this pop icon is about to pay me a compliment!” but saw soon after that he had a more childlike appreciation for her laugh, thinking of it as actually being pretty stupid. At the end of the day, no one came out of this one smelling like roses.
Any Vine that leaves you asking more questions than you went in with gives it an enigmatic, artistic spin that makes it more a short film than a Vine.
What are they doing? What’s going on? Where is this? Who built this park? Or is it a playground? What’s its function? Where can I do this same activity locally? Surrealism at its best. Also, the first guy swinging side to side is enough on its own to warrant passing this Vine down to future generations.
The surrealist side of Vine strikes again. For the second time, I’m left to wonder: Is she okay? (She can’t be – she’s running sideways but also backwards and screaming.) What led to this exchange? What’s his accent? Where is this from? Why is she running? With each question posed, it becomes more of an art installation than a video.
26. “(Raccoon attack; funny)”
To round out this surrealist trio: How’d that raccoon fling itself so leisurely at that guy? Did it have a spring-board on-hand behind the car? Did a buddy of the guy’s throw it at him? Is the guy who got hit with the raccoon alive? Was all of this planned ahead of time? Also, the guy filming wildly overreacted; stop running and help your friend!
Credit even for the dead means hope for us all. I must admit, though, that in my earliest binge viewings of this Vine, I was iffy about it because of the first half, but what will always win me over is the delivery of the last line; that ghost so gleefully has a plan in place now and a method of getting itself in a Subaru before the day’s over, swaying gently with excitement over it all. Also, like, why a Subaru? Comedy – get into it.
Before diving into this one, I should stress that I’ve shown it to a few people in the flesh and what I’ve gathered is that it’s somewhat of an acquired taste. For me, the subtlety of the camera angle, the Viner making herself laugh and the specificity of the audience to whom this is funny create a gut-busting combination.
It’s so damn funny in part because of the rollercoaster ride she takes you on; you think she’s going to be devastated due to not having her entrance into the world documented, but instead she calls back to bratty kids who didn’t have the specific video they wanted to watch on a long car ride. It’s niche, it’s nuanced and if you reference it and are met with silent glares, I’ll laugh from afar.
29. “I can’t swim”
What you’ve got here is maybe the single purest moment ever recorded on film. I usually don’t buy what Vines with kids in them are selling, but this one’s different: Raven’s loved ones are exuberant, raising her up and memorializing her big day through sand writing. Raven cutely crashes their party, reminding them that no one ran it by her beforehand to confirm whether or not she could swim.
Why, then, since she can’t swim, did they bring her where that would matter most? They dropped the ball in that respect, but out of it they got a precious moment and a good reference for you to whip out in the event that someone you don’t like invites you to the beach.
30. “Y’all ugly”
If this isn’t a mood, I’m not sure what is. The beauty here is that this Vine fits almost any situation wherein you’re outnumbered by those you dislike who also don’t meet your same standard of objective attractiveness – great for a class in which people annoy you, for a party or work, if you find your coworkers less than savory.
For the full effect, practice witchcraft enough to the point that you can physically zap yourself right out of any snag.
Astronomy can get pretty tricky, I know, and that comet understands this all too well. What stumps and awes me here is the range of this Viner; playing both the eccentric, lovable, scene-stealing comet and its nameless scene partner, he should be spread thin, or maybe he’s just that good.
The fact that he also replicates the feeling of hurling through space through camera movement – straight legendary.
Vine lent creatives free rein, especially in this case – without the app, people may have never giggled over such a lewd mispronunciation. The stupidity of the joke’s basis aside, this Viner really gets into this persona; she provides full transparency and states that, no matter the condition, she’ll eat that fajita.
You should also walk away from this inspired to be more open to life; if not, watch it a couple more times and see how that shakes out.
No Vine compilation is complete without an appearance by Summerella. Her mom, a queen, delivers her half of the tune flawlessly – from when she turns her head toward the camera, to her inimitable “shiiiiit,” her movements in general and her hearty mom cackle at the end, she nailed it.
What’s fun in referencing this Vine is tackling it with a friend with whom you, in no way, have a mother-daughter connection. That’ll drastically shift your dynamic and your roles therein. Try it!
34. “Cancer?” / “Cancer!”
For me, this really raises the bar for what Vines can be and what ground they can cover and break. It’s so clever and built in the perfect way. I personally love a play on words that I never would’ve thought of myself, so this strikes me as genius. Any actual commentary might besmirch the joke, so I’ll refrain, but I hope this Vine blows your mind as much as it does mine.
Finally, I present the single most underrated Vine to bring this list to an end. To start off, the setting: to me, very clearly a Panera Bread, but I’ve also heard others saying a cafeteria. It could also be a generic coffee shop or a food court – the jury’s still out, and may never return, seeing as the app is dead. As for the storyline, the speaker castigated a publicly entwined heterosexual couple, asserting a staunch anti-PDA theme.
The unseen hero is audibly disgusted by the lovebirds, starting out at a tone of aloof but firm disapproval, before graduating to the second, more nasally, amused-but-still-not-into-it “what the fuck?” Things reach a breaking point when the girl ends her silence to demand an end to the heckling; but really, her meek “stop” reads like a polite request more than anything. Through all of this, the guy — half of their couple — sits stoically, stirring very little.
But it doesn’t end there. This Vine is so funny for a multitude of reasons, the foremost being the guy filming; he’s so grossed out, and the tactics he employs in handling his discomfort are kind of incredible. I have to know: Why that voice and those words? That’s what wows me most. The other huge reason this Vine is so mesmerizing is – get this – the fact that the guy in the couple may be (and probably is) a mannequin. “What the fuck” indeed.
Sit with me and weigh the evidence for and against, won’t you? The fingers on his left hand are so stiff, almost resembling plastic. He’s also got a very specific beachy, boyband, dreamboat kind of look; you definitely saw him chilling lifelessly in Hollister a couple of years back. So far, this is pretty damning evidence, yes, but none quite as much as the fact that he literally doesn’t move an inch one single time. If you’re not swayed by now, you must really be rooting for those two crazy kids’ happiness.
As far as evidence in favor of his humanity, why would anyone make a mannequin that assumed such an odd posture? Additionally, how would she have gotten him into the Panera if he didn’t walk? I don’t know, but what I do know is that this is without a doubt the reference that will come up the most in life. Whenever you’re befuddled like the one human male was here, switch out your standard “what the fuck?” for one in a funnier voice that’ll also relieve some tension. And for the endless number of big picture questions this Vine spurs, they can all be answered by simply wondering aloud: What the fuck?
Although this list of 35 doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many iconic Vines out there, this is a solid place for you to start and re-immerse yourself in their world. With these, you’ll have a working knowledge of top-shelf jokes to throw out and connect with other good-humored people. If your appetite’s been wet but you’re looking for more, dive into the YouTube rabbit hole and watch the hours-worth of Vines there that are just waiting to be unpacked and referenced fondly. And if nobody gets your jokes? Take a page from Carla Shaw – you don’t need friends that would disappoint you like that.