Sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from crying. (See: most of the last three years.)
Every now and then, the fuel for that laughter comes from the very politicians who are fighting against, or responsible for, what we’re crying about. Either these politicians are cracking jokes, which rarely ends well, or everybody else is cracking jokes at their expense. One of the more optimum opportunities for the latter is a presidential debate. These things always end up turning into Political Joke Thunderdome on Twitter, and last night was no exception.
Here are the best memes Fast Company noticed emerging from the fourth Democratic debate of this election, which saw a crowded stage of 12 candidates duke it out for viral supremacy.
Who is Tom Steyer?
Considering that at this point most people would prefer the Democratic field be winnowed down rather than inflated, a lot of viewers were unenthused about seeing a new face on stage. (And Keke Palmer recently gave them a perfect way to express as much.)
Never heard of Tom Steyer in my life. Sorry to this man.
— jeremy bearimy (@crissles) October 16, 2019
— Giselle V. (@itsgissel) October 16, 2019
"Who the hell is this?" – All of America when Tom Steyer started talking
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) October 16, 2019
When there’s suddenly a new debate participant and we’re just supposed to act like they were there all along pic.twitter.com/eQzoWSM0r2
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 16, 2019
Joe Biden yelling at Elizabeth Warren
A lot of people ended up challenging Elizabeth Warren during last night’s debate (you better believe we’ll be seeing more in just a moment), but only one of them has an angry grandpa vibe in general and a history of pointing fingers in people’s faces.
People mocked Joe Biden’s explosive moment with references to a Will Ferrell SNL character . . .
I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS https://t.co/qCAGaimdru
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) October 16, 2019
And with references to the MRA reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi . . .
"I like Kelly Marie Tran, but I don't like Rose as a character!" https://t.co/IfHXYjxtzB
— Jordan Maison (@JordanMaison) October 16, 2019
And of course with esoteric Simpsons references.
"And I wore an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time" https://t.co/3urPHGhOUH
— William D. Adler (@williamadler78) October 16, 2019
“Will you join me, Elizabeth?”
Kamala Harris and Tulsi Gabbard took turns trying to recruit Elizabeth Warren to a pair of positions they’d stated—deleting Trump’s Twitter account and calling for an “end to these regime change wars in Syria,” respectively, to no avail. People online had fun with these requests and with Warren’s utterly unfazed response.
WHEN will elizabeth warren join me in demanding that Under The Dome get renewed for another season — @ewarren what are you afraid of??
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) October 16, 2019
Everyone wants Liz Warren specifically to join them in some random venture!!!! We should make an app.
“Liz Warren, will you join me in supporting the public stoning of couples in restaurants that have to sit on the same side of the table?” #DemDebate
— Phillip Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) October 16, 2019
#DemDebate Tulsi Gabbard: I hope Elizabeth Warren will join me.
Elizabeth Warren: pic.twitter.com/cFfsz1tbd7
— Theresa (@theresaaaclare) October 16, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard is NOT a Russian asset
Of course, Tulsi Gabbard using the phrase “regime-change war” to describe the genocide in Syria struck some people as echoing Vladimir Putin’s language about what is currently happening in the region. This turn of phrase would have likely incited some blowback anyway, but it ironically came just moments after Gabbard, unprompted, declared that she is not, in fact, a Russian asset.
"CNN said I was a Russian asset. That's ridiculous. Anyway, to solve the problem in the Middle East I would do exactly what Putin wants." -Tulsi Gabbard. #DemDebate
— Boo-jamin Screamin' (@BenjaminJS) October 16, 2019
*when Tulsi Gabbard mentions people are calling her a Russian asset then proceeds to do absolutely nothing but reinforce the fact that she’s a fuckin Russian asset* #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/osbovF6JIG
— Cyrus McQueen (@CyrusMMcQueen) October 16, 2019
Actual propaganda that Tulsi is parroting, in between denying she’s not a Russian asset. https://t.co/gjZPXGT99S
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) October 16, 2019
Tulsi: I am not a Russian asset
Erryone else: pic.twitter.com/KQkfSi9caD
— Kevin (@kevinlizon) October 16, 2019
Beto is Cousin Greg from ‘Succession’
Maybe it was the fact that the Succession finale aired just two nights earlier. Maybe it was Beto O’Rourke’s apparent height advantage at certain moments during the debate. For whatever reason, a lot of people made the connection between the candidate and Nicholas Braun’s eternally put-upon beanpole from the show.
Because my brain is completely broken, I am getting some strong Cousin Greg vibes off of Beto tonight
— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) September 5, 2019
beto bringing that big cousin greg energy tonight
— The chud from C.H.U.D. (@maggieserota) September 13, 2019
I’m getting this weird vibe like Beto and Cousin Greg might be members of the same family.
— Kim Masters (@kimmasters) October 16, 2019
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 16, 2019
Klobuchar’s “Is this thing on?” moment
Amy Klobuchar dropped a number of zingers that didn’t exactly kill in the way that Warren’s Equality Town Hall joke did last week, and they were received accordingly online as well.
You better believe I added a laugh track to Amy Klobuchar's joke pic.twitter.com/LM6xCiYrJl
— Keith Deadwards ???? (@keithedwards) October 16, 2019
— ☆ʞɯ️☆ (@_monster_kid) October 16, 2019
**LEAKED FOOTAGE OF AMY KLOBUCHAR PREPARING JOKES FOR THE DEM DEBATES** pic.twitter.com/RfMnTbUrd2
— Yamasc ???????? (@MilkmanNick) October 16, 2019
Straining so hard trying to turn Klobuchar's bad jokes into a Joker thing I give myself Joe Biden brain.
— luke (@lukeoneil47) October 16, 2019
Biden’s gaffes tend to multiply ‘expodentially’
Because Joe Biden can’t seem to talk without saying at least one thing that makes his aides reach for Prilosec, at one point during the debate, the word “expodentially” was born.
I have never opened twitter faster than when Biden said expodentially
— ⛓ellen⛓ (@_culver_) October 16, 2019
— Mericam (@Mericam49) October 16, 2019
this is expodentially my favorite debate by far
— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) October 16, 2019
Buttigieg vs Beto
When sparring broke out between Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke, a lot of onlookers realized they had some trouble telling the difference between these two similarly second-tier candidates.
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) October 16, 2019
Each time Beto and Pete turn in full profile to debate about a point they both agree on, it is the praxis version of Spiderman Pointing At Spiderman Dot Gif.
— Brock Wilbur (@brockwilbur) October 16, 2019
Beto vs Mayor Pete is like watching an anime fight scene between two background characters. #DemDebate
— Chris Ray Goblin (@ChrisRGun) October 16, 2019
— Blaise Mikkelsen (@wittywebhandle) October 16, 2019
The unlikely friend most likely
Ever since the Democratic debates began, viewers have been begging for more questions on substantive issues like climate change. So it was rather typical when the CNN/New York Times debate ended with a question about . . . last week’s Ellen DeGeneres mishegas. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked all the candidates who their most “unlikely friend” might be, and a lot of viewers—including whoever does Sam Bee’s social media—were clamoring for one pairing in particular.
Biden’s unlikely friend gonna be Corn Pop
— John Toohey (@J2tellem) October 16, 2019
CNN Anchor: Tell us about an unlikely friend you have.
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) October 16, 2019
— Crypt Keeper 2020 (JDB) (@jdborneman) October 16, 2019
CNN: who is your most unlikely friend?
Joe Biden: CORN POP!#DemocraticDebate
— bela lugosi's beth (@bourgeoisalien) October 16, 2019