Top 20 Meme Stars: Where Are They Now?

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Top 20 Meme Stars: Where Are They Now?

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: David Foster
Who doesn't love a good meme? For this list, we'll be looking at the lives of regular people who shot to fame thanks to online memes. Our countdown includes “Hide the Pain Harold”, “Bad Luck Brian”, “The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy”, “Side Eyeing Chloe”, “Blinking White Guy”, and more!
Transcript

Top 20 Meme Stars and Where Are They Now


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Meme Stars and where are they now.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the lives of regular people who shot to fame thanks to online memes.

Would you want to become internet famous? Sound off in the comments.

#20: Kayode Ewumi

“Think About It”
The Think About It meme, otherwise known as “Roll Safe” comes from writer and star Kayode Ewumi’s web series “#HoodDocumentary.” Ewumi plays R.S., which stands for… Reese Simpson (to the government and parents at least.) To everyone else, he is Roll Safe, a self-professed triple-threat who knows that a beautiful woman is one with “good brains.” That in-episode admission is where the meme comes from, as R.S. taps his head knowingly. Since “#HoodDocumentary” Ewumi has created another comedy-drama “Enterprice,” which followed two budding entrepreneurs. Outside of the shows, Ewumi has set up his own production company that creates faith based content, and works as a youth leader in his church. Sadly, Roll Safe has been retired…

#19: Vladimir Brest

“Dramatic Dmitry”
“Dramatic Dmitry” is a classic example of a reaction image meme. In this case, the image is of Russian singer, songwriter and actor Vladimir Brest. Taken from the cover of his 2011 album “Paranoia,” the meme grew in popularity to point out when someone was massively overstating a tiny issue–AKA a ‘first world problem.’ After all, it depicts the pensive singer kneeling soberly on a cold beach. Ironically Brest considers himself to be a positive person, but welcomes his likeness being used in such a way, considering it inoffensive. Over a decade since the release of “Paranoia,” Vladimir Brest is still performing–on screen and in the studio.

#18: Darwin (Japanese Snow Macaque)

“IKEA Monkey”
While the “IKEA Monkey” was the source of laughs in 2012, there was also quite a bit of controversy too. The incident began when Darwin, a Japanese Snow Macaque, showed up at his local IKEA wearing a shearling coat. Darwin wandered the aisles as though he was shopping for a flatpack before being picked up by Animal Rescue. It turned out, the monkey’s owner had bought him illegally. Darwin was rehomed in Canada’s Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. He was quite young when he arrived, but has since learned how to mingle with the other macaques there. He spends his days playing with his Curious George doll, whom he likes to groom and even bathe.

#17: András Arató

“Hide the Pain Harold”
Despite András Arató’s furrowed brow and soulful eyes that project an air of sadness, his actual life is far from the painful one that his internet ego Harold is hiding. Now a “meme hero”, Arató is recognised almost everywhere – all because of a photograph that he expected would be used sparingly, but ended up on the “Facepunch” forum. Since then, he’s given a TED Talk, and become the face of Coca Cola in Hungary! He lives with wife Gabriella and his son in Budapest. In 2020, he appeared in the Hungarian version of “The Masked Singer”.

#16: Mia Talerico

“Good Luck Charlie”
Mia Talico was not even one year old when she began her acting career, playing the titular character in “Good Luck Charlie.” It wouldn’t be long before the young actress would give the world some memorable moments, but not necessarily in the way that was intended. During one episode, Mia – as Charlie – throws her hands up in dismay in reaction to her mother running to aid her injured husband. The reaction was made into a GIF, and became a meme to be used when one feels completely clueless. Today, the teenage Talico is still acting – most recently as Paige in the comedy series “Mani”.

#15: Tarder Sauce

“Grumpy Cat”
Cats have evolved to be pretty darn adept at hiding their feelings – although even cat lovers will concede that ultimately the feeling is most likely disdain. However, some cats show this disapproval very clearly. Tardar Sauce was the feline friend of Tabatha Bundesen, who one day took a photo of her pet’s naturally scowling face. The rest is meme history. Sceptical or not, Tardar lived the high life after she became famous - visiting “South by Southwest,” “The Bachelorette” and even WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.” Tardar passed away in 2019, but her legacy lives on forever.

#14: Michael McGee

“Trying to Hold a Fart Next to a Cute Girl in Class”
Unlike most of the other entries on this list, Michael McGee’s 2013 image was actually intended to be a meme. Asking a school friend to take the photo, McGee pulled a straining face that made his head look ready to explode. It doesn’t look healthy, with the vein in his neck pulsating. However, it worked: although it took some time, the original post and caption gained traction to the point of going viral. Now a reaction image to difficult situations, McGee has only one regret about making the meme – not copyrighting it. According to his Facebook profile, today McGee is a Fleet Service Clerk for American Airlines. We hope he doesn’t try to replicate the original photo–for the sake of his health!

#13: Kyle Craven

“Bad Luck Brian”
Kyle Craven is “Bad Luck Brian”, after a childish prank that went viral. Then a high school student, Craven had to pose for his yearbook photo at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio. However, he first rubbed his face with his sweater to make it red and put on the goofiest of grins. The world almost missed out on “Bad Luck Brian,” as Craven’s Principal was nonplussed and demanded a re-take. But the photo had already been digitised. Craven’s life is actually (by his own admission) quite fortuitous. He made between $15k-20k merchandising Bad Luck Brian, and went on to become the COO of his father’s Church Construction Company. He’s now married, and adopted a dog – Louie.

#12: Blake Boston

“Scumbag Steve”
Rapper Blake Boston was only trying to promote music, but instead he found fame as the infamous “Scumbag Steve.” The animal advice image, which depicts the young Boston standing in a hallway dressed for delinquency, quickly took off after being uploaded to – you guessed it – Reddit, in 2011. The image was actually taken by his mother, behind the scenes of the album cover shoot for Beantown Mafia’s “Ma Gangsta.” Then going by “Weezy B,” Boston didn’t actually appreciate the adulation at first. But he turned the attention towards his career and took on the name when releasing his own hip-hop music videos. Those days are behind him, and today he is a father of two boys as well as a political and gaming enthusiast.

#11: Zeddie Little

“The Ridiculously Photogenic Guy”
Forget about doing a marathon, most of us get pretty exhausted running for a bus. But not this ridiculously photogenic guy: Zeddie Little. Running as part of the Cooper River Bridge Run, Little wasn’t really doing anything other than smiling at one of the many photographers in attendance. But the simple fact that he looked so composed and nonchalant in a sea of runners drew attention worldwide. Well, his aesthetically pleasing features also helped. In the days following the moment, which was captured by Will King, Little appeared on various news outlets and joined Twitter, but continued his work in restaurant management.

#10: Ylvis

“What Does The Fox Say?”
Despite the fact that it was played over and over and over again in 2013, it’s really hard to hate “What Does The Fox Say.” It’s equally as hard to make any sense of it either, but that’s probably by design, as the song is a product of Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis. Once released, the music video gained an immense following, popular among both kids and adults. The song also gave way to a children's book. These days, Ylvis continue to produce musical comedy (such as their show “Stories from Norway”). They’re also rumoured to be behind Norway’s 2022 Eurovision entrant.

#9: “Clarence”

“Sudden Clarity Clarence”
We’ve all had an epiphany – a moment of clarity that hits our mind suddenly, like a flash of lightning. But nothing encapsulates that moment of sudden clarity more than “Sudden Clarity Clarence,” an advice animal image that made its way online in 2011. The image depicts a man on a dancefloor incongruously engaged in deep thought instead of busting a move. The original picture is a stock image from Australia, but the subject remains a source of some debate. Two possibilities are frontrunners though–redditor duckareokay and Will G from Southern California. All we know is that when we discover who it is, a “Sudden Clarity Clarence” will soon follow.

#8: Danielle Bregoli (aka Bhad Bhabie)

“Cash Me Ousside / Howbow Dah”
In case you felt you misheard, what Danielle Bregoli actually said was: “catch me outside, how about that.” We aren’t dissing her here, by the way–in fact, she really did great from the new phrase she coined, when the teenage Bregoli appeared as a guest on Dr. Phil in 2016. Then a troubled teen, she was lashing out at the audience–but the affected manner in which she spoke grabbed the attention of the world as well as record producers. Years later, she is the youngest female rapper to have appeared in the U.S. Billboard Chart. Sure, she’s had her demons–but few can claim they could turn a negative into such a positive.

#7: Drew Scanlon

“Blinking White Guy”
Did you catch that? Blink and you’ll miss it – no pun intended. Captured during Giant Bomb’s live-stream of the game “Starbound”, Drew Scanlon’s double-take reaction to editor-in-chief Jeff Gerstmann’s comment about ‘farming with a hoe’ led to a reaction GIF (albeit four years later). In 2019, it returned, this time as an image called “First Guy To.” Between 2017-20, Scanlon ran a crowd-funded documentary project on games and sports around the world called “Cloth Map”. Today, he produces for video game company “Digital Eclipse”, and hosts his own Formula 1 podcast called “Shift+F1”. He also raises money for charity! Figuring out how Scanlon finds the time has us doing our own double take.

#6: Laina Morris

“Overly Attached Girlfriend (OAG)”
Laina Morris made a strong entrance to the comedy world with this meme. Her character Overly Attached Girlfriend originated with a contest to create a “Girlfriend” counterpart to Justin Bieber’s song “Boyfriend”. The first image of Laina’s face projected everything about the character. Whilst the screengrab would go on to become a meme, Morris took “Overly Attached Girlfriend” as far as she could, introducing new characters whilst still producing weekly content with the original. She even collaborated on one video with “Bad Luck Brian!” In 2019, after a successful seven-year run, Morris took the decision to step back from YouTube and now maintains a low profile.

#5: Kabosu

“Doge”
Unlike their feline counterparts, dogs are much better at conveying their feelings. Usually, it’s unconditional love. Until Kabosu the Shiba Inu came along, we’d never really seen a dog express more than one emotion at once. A shot taken by Japanese owner Atsuko Sato showed the doge – thanks to HomeStar Runner for that pronunciation – sitting on a couch with apparently raised eyebrows. Was he scared? Confused? Sarcastically rolling his eyes? We don’t know, but the internet community managed to assign all that and more when they used the image to create more and more memes. Today, the Doge is still alive and living with Sato and three cats.

#4: Chloe Clem

“Side Eyeing Chloe”
Without context, or sound, this meme totally hides just how sweet a moment it is. The image, or GIF, shows a toddler – Chloe Clem – throwing some real shade at her older sister Lily, who’s in tears. Chloe’s face begs the question: “is this really happening?” Ironically, that was actually what her sister was thinking. The video shows the siblings being told that they’re off to Disneyland. As a result of her inadvertent side-eye, Chloe’s face has appeared on billboards as well as memes, and earned her V.I.P. treatment at the House of Mouse. Plus, she appeared with her big sister Lily in two episodes of “The Beech Boys.”

#3: Maggie Goldenberger

“Ermahgerd”
It took some time, but the person in the image “Ermahgerd” was finally uncovered. The meme itself is of a girl in fancy dress, pulling a goofy face as she shows off her Gersberms – sorry – “Goosebumps” books. The long time between the image being taken and going viral was why it took so long for Maggie Goldenberger to be identified as the “Ermahgerd” girl. With that revelation came the break of the illusion – the photo was taken as an intentional joke from the get go. Goldenberger now works as a nurse in Arizona.

#2: Zoe Roth

“Disaster Girl”
It’s actually certainly disappointing to learn that little Zoe Roth wasn’t a pyromaniac. There’s nothing photoshopped about that image however, that is an actual fire, and that is an actual house that is burning. But no one was injured – honest! The house fire was a training exercise that the Roths were watching when father Dave snapped the moment. The photo won a JPG magazine competition before going viral. In 2021, the original sold as an NFT for half a million dollars. Meanwhile Zoe – all grown up – has not started any fires. Quite the opposite, as in 2021 Roth was studying peace, war and defense at the University of North Carolina.

#1: Sam Griner

“Success Kid”
The tale of the “Success Kid” is one of triumph – beyond that of the image. The child in the photo, Sam Griner, was merely enjoying a day at the beach with his mother. The internet took the shot of him with a clenched fist and captioned it “I Hate Sandcastles.” Mother Laney disapproved as it suggested Sam was mean, destroying sandcastles when he actually loved them. She much preferred the next iteration - “Success Kid”. In conjunction with a GoFundMe campaign, the meme even helped raise money for father Justin’s kidney transplant – showing that the image didn’t just bolster spirits, but saved lives. These days, Sam likes to be creative with art and music, though keeps his meme history on the downlow with friends…
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