Arts & Culture

The Big Jewcy: Neetzan Zimmerman – Meme Machine At The Daily What

You think your video will go viral? Ask Neetzan of The Daily What. He’s the best judge of these things. Read More

By / June 1, 2011
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

Double Rainbow remix, “Tiger blood,” planking, Sad Keanu: these are memes; or as the always reliable Wikipedia puts it, “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”  Of course the meme that keeps on going is the infamous LolCats site.  Because at the end of the day, when Charlie Sheen is just another drug addicted millionaire, and the “hide your kids, hide your wife” guy is playing your local Six Flags, people will always love pasting misspelled words onto pictures of their cat.

As the founding editor of the site The Daily What, Neetzan Zimmerman’s job is to find new things that at first might seem strange and esoteric to the general public, but with the help of Zimmerman’s trained eye, soon go viral and are namechecked by millions.

I know this might seem like a completely banal question, but what is your work day like?  It must be pretty fun to find the strangest stuff on the internet.

I spend about 18 hours a day online — pretty much every waking hour. Multiply that by seven days a week and it can get pretty exhausting. Then again, every time I feel stressed I just remind myself that I get paid to look at funny cat videos and bounce right back.

A typical day consists of reading the entire Internet, posting all the cool stuff I find, and then reading the entire Internet again. I repeat this process several times, sneak in a meal or two, and wrap it up around midnight. In between I also manage several talented writers, moderate the comments, and respond to incoming e-mail. All in all, never a dull moment.

What sort of things do you look for when considering a Daily What post?

In order to be considered post-worthy, an item has to either be viral, in the process of going viral, or have to potential to go viral. As long as it meets one of these requirements, it really doesn’t matter what it is. In fact, on any given day, it can be absolutely anything: A cute dog; a funny hat; a salacious political scandal. Part of the fun is waking up every morning to a blank slate full of viral possibilities.

Is there such thing as the uber meme?  Like is there one internet meme that puts all others to shame?

I think, at the end of the day, only a handful of memes have true staying power. If I were put on the spot and had to pick one meme above all others I’d have to go with the classic RickRoll. A person who has never been RickRoll’d cannot honestly say he has ever been online.

The Daily What is part of the Cheezburger family.  Have you ever created an Lolcat?

I created a LOLcat, but I deleted it.