The holiday pressure is over! Hopefully the presents are opened, the relatives have travelled back home, and things are extra light at work. That means it’s the perfect time to check out some funny, heartwarming, and otherwise just plain incredible videos from the past year. Each of these 25 videos went viral to some extent (and rightfully so), and they cover a whole range of subjects, from intellectual discussions, to weird quests, to pure comedy. There’s something here for everyone to reminisce about — but let’s start with a farting horse.
Horse kicks tree, farts on dog then runs away
YouTube’s algorithm served us a perfect viral video in 2022: “Horse kicks tree, farts on dogs then runs away.” In the video, a horse kicks a tree, farts on dogs, then runs away.
Over 35 million people have viewed the video, and response is nearly universally positive. “This horse does indeed kick a tree, fart on dogs and then runs away… and it is absolutely majestic!” YouTube user Rainbow Unicorn comments, where Smart Smears says, “I feel like everyone wants to be this horse in times like these.” I couldn’t agree more.
True Facts: Proboscis Monkey
This viral video comes from internet legend ZeFrank. True Facts: Proboscis Monkey takes a deep and hilarious dive into the world of monkey noses. Why does the “nose monkey” basically not have a nose at all, where the Proboscis monkey has a huge, hanging schnozzola?
It’s a more interesting question than you might think, and takes us to the intersection of comical evolutionary traits and primate sexual attractiveness. I had no idea that Proboscis monkeys have erections all the time, and that humans are the second largest-nosed primate. While I definitely clicked on this video hoping to laugh at some big-nosed monkeys, the joke was ultimately on me. As the video’s narrator points out: “If you want to laugh at a monkey with a big nose and a funny looking penis, call up a friend and get naked. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than going to Borneo.”
Zach Montana and his Disco Dad
This next one comes from TikTok’s Zach Montana, a teenager who discovered a forgotten recording of a disco song, “Surrender to Me,” that his dad recorded 43 years ago and excitedly played it for his online audience. The song is, as they say, a bop, but it’s made even better by Zach’s ebullient reaction to it.
Why everywhere in the United States is starting to look the same
This viral video isn’t funny, it’s just an interesting look at an important question: Why is everywhere in the United States starting to look the same? Why does a highway exit in Tennessee look identical to one in California? Wendover Production’s answer is complicated. Some of it is bureaucratic — those “five over one” apartment buildings everywhere are largely the product of zoning boards — and some of it is human nature. We want every McDonald’s to have the same layout, and every cheap motel to be arranged the same, and in a country as comfortable as ours, we can damn well have it. Like everything, this corporation-provided comfort comes with a downside. A huge downside, actually. Watch the video for more.
The Backrooms, explained
To fully understand this viral video, you first have to burrow into one of the internet’s strangest rabbit holes. TikTok user yeetme084 posted this video of a discovery they supposedly made on Google Maps. Over de-tuned music, with the caption, “nah wtf they hiding in Japan?” the video zooms in on a strange circular building, then switches to Streetview to reveal its interior — a bland but vast collection of cubicles, and a pit that goes down to…somewhere. Over 20 million people have viewed it so far, and judging from the comments and discussions, many think this TikToker had found the legendary “Backrooms.”
“The Backrooms” is an internet urban legend — a dreamlike, endless maze of empty, randomly generated, office rooms you can supposedly enter only by “no-clipping” through reality. The idea of this and other “liminal spaces” has captured the imagination of people across the internet who are drawn to the locations that are disquieting for reasons that can’t quite be explained. They make games, short films, and post uncanny photos of places that evoke inexplicable dread.
Internet detectives zeroed in on the coordinates on yeetme084’s video and found they point to Nara Dreamland, a Japanese amusement park that has been closed and left to decay since 2006. A popular spot for urban explorers of abandoned places, Nara Dreamland is the perfect location for a space between the real world and whatever there is that we can’t see. Soon videos of other backroom locations all over the world were discovered on Google maps and Streetview.
It’s such a good, creepy story that I almost hate to spoil it, but the videos are of this world. That is to say, they’re fakes, part of an alternative reality game too tedious to care about. This YouTuber explains the whole thing, if you’re one of those “reality” kind of people.
Woman backing into a bed
I feel bad for online advertising professionals. They devote their entire careers and tons of money to trying to make “sticky” online content that people will share, but it almost never works. Then they wake up one morning to find that the hottest viral video on TikTok is a woman accidentally bumping into her bed-frame and saying, “ah!”
@kateylorrel’s video has been viewed over 9 million times in the last few days. The video is relatable and mildly funny (if you find people getting not-seriously hurt funny) but the way she says “ah” captured the online world’s imagination. It’s such a clear and musical “ah,” people just had to record “duets” with @kateylorrel by putting the “ah” into The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” Nelly’s “Dilemma,” and Bruno Mars’ “When I was Your Man.”
The man who accidentally killed the most people in history
Who killed the most people? Stalin? Hitler? Genghis Khan? All wrong. This viral video, “The Man Who Accidentally Killed the Most People In History” from Veritasium, gives the surprising answer: Thomas Midgley. Midgley indirectly caused the deaths of millions, lowered the collective IQ of the entire human race, and may ultimately be the person most responsible for the end of all human life. And he did it all with science! Midgley is the guy responsible for putting lead in gasoline, which has lead led to an incalculable number of deaths and the lowering of our collective IQs. Not satisfied with that accomplishment, Midgley went on to pioneer using freon to keep refrigerators cold; that pioneering use of CFCs led to the development of all the chemicals that put a hole in the ozone layer and helped hasten global warming. Fittingly, Midgley was eventually killed by one of his own inventions. The story is just off-the-rails weird and interesting, and you can learn all about it here.
I tried to profit off an arcade
In this viral video, YouTuber Drew Gooden answers a question I’ve had in the back of mind for a long time: Can you make a profit at an arcade? Can you get so good at a machine that awards tickets that the prize you win is worth more than the tokens you spent?
Every time I take a trip to an arcade with prizes, it begins with me eyeing the lava lamp that costs 6,400 tickets, spending $US87 ($121), and leaving with a pair of Groucho glasses and an Abba Zabba, but Gooden is more committed to the ticket-grubbing lifestyle than me, and he makes a serious go at it. I won’t spoil the dramatic question at the centre of the video: Watch it to see how it comes out. As a bonus, you will also find out whether a hot dog toaster is worth the tickets it costs to get one. (Spoiler: It isn’t.)
Mark Rober’s crunch labs tour
Mark Rober, the guy behind those YouTube glitterbombs and squirrel obstacle courses, has a new engineering project, and it’s pretty amazing. In this viral video, Rober takes you behind the scenes of “Crunch Labs” his new secret laboratory/work space.
If you were ever bored in sixth grade English class and drew your ultimate secret base, you probably drew something like this. The lab is entered through a secret door in an unassuming office, but if you follow the secret passage, it leads to a Willy Wonka like factory complete with a pneumatic system for lowering people between floors, a Nerf gun arsenal, secret rooms hidden behind a soda machine, the world’s longest Hot Wheels track, a tennis ball cannon that can be cranked up high enough to blast tennis balls through drywall (complete with a $US10,000 ($13,882) prize if you can hit the bullseye), and way more totally impractical but awesome-to-a-sixth-grader features.
Harry Mack’s Omegle Bars 67
It’s weird that one of the greatest freestyle rappers on Earth is a white guy in his 30s with a YouTube channel, but once you’ve seen what Harry Mack does, it’s hard to deny — dude’s good enough to impress and inspire Kendrick Lamar. Mack does a lot of different kinds of freestyle-focused videos, but my favourite are his “Omegle Bars” vids. This viral video is typical of this series: Mack logs on to Omegle, gets a few words from the randos he connects with, then proceeds to blow their fucking wigs with intricate, improvisational rap that’s so good it seems like magic. This is number 67 in the series, and they keep getting better. Even if you don’t like hip hop at all, it’ll be impossible to stop your jaw from dropping when you see this guy, so if you do nothing else today but weep into your coffee cup, check out his latest video.
I drove to every rainforest cafe in North America
I love travel documentaries, pointless challenges, and pop culture ephemera that should be gone but somehow survives. This viral video has them all. In “I Drove to Every Rainforest Cafe in North America,” YouTuber Ted Nivision and his partner Eddy Burback do just that. They drive nearly 16,093 km to visit malls from California to New Jersey to Canada, just to soak in the inexplicable vibe of the Rainforest Cafe, where the animals are animatronic, the food is mediocre, and there’s an indoor thunderstorm every 22 minutes.
The chain was founded in 1994, in the midst of the themed restaurant craze, and somehow it’s still alive, unlike shuttered bad-food-ideas The Fashion Cafe, Mars 2112, Dive! (Steven Spielberg’s submarine-themed restaurant chain), and WWF New York (a restaurant about professional wrestling). Sadly, the writing may be on the wall for the Rainforest Cafe. There were once 34 locations in the US, but only 17 remain, so don’t put off a visit.
This video is one of those projects that divides people into two groups: Those who say, “But why would you do that?” and those who say, “Why would you do anything else?” I’m fully in the second camp, because as Nivision put it: “It is the stupidest, most ridiculous restaurant to exist, and I love it so much.”
Men react to period pain simulator
This viral video featured men hooked up to machines that simulate period cramps, and they are hilarious. Laughing at clips of people in pain have been around since before the words “viral video” meant anything — what would America’s Funniest Home Videos be without dudes being hit in the ‘nads, right? — but period simulator videos combine laughing at others’ pain with promoting empathy and understanding across genders. I’m totally gaining an understanding of what women go through when I watch this nice cowboy grimace, and this dude’s pained “yee-haw.” This guy is a champion bull rider! This couple tried it, and guess who whined the loudest and tapped out? Anyway, check out the source for many, many more, ya sadist.
Primitive technology: trebuchet
This viral video is from YouTube’s favourite nature boy, Primitive Technology. This week, the shirtless dude from the beginning of time is making a trebuchet! Past projects taught us how to make a tiled roof using only stone-aged tools, took a deep dive on the cultivation of yams, and explained all one could ever want to know about weaving. All his step-by-step videos are weirdly hypnotic — they don’t feature a voice-over, music, or any production enhancements, just pure pre-historical action — but a trebuchet offers something a thatched roof does not: an ending in which a heavy rock is launched through the air to smash into a target. After the apocalypse, you’re going to rush to watch this channel and learn to repel marauders stealing your wheat, only to find you don’t have electricity, let alone an internet connection, so watch and learn now before it’s too late.
My regrets from high school theatre
I can’t sing, dance, or act, but I still was in all my high school’s musicals — I just liked the vibe. Now that I’m sort of an adult, I still like the vibe — all of my favourite people in the world were theatre geeks in high school. This video, “My regrets from high school theatre,” offers reassuring evidence that this subspecies of teenager is still alive, still nerdy-sincere in that very specific theatre-geek way, and still rocking school plays in the post-everything age. Also, telling personal, casual stories through homemade animation is a very internet genre, and illymation really nails it here.
Staying at an underwater hotel
YouTuber SafiyaNygaard runs a friendly, appealing YouTube channel that has earned her more than 9 million subscribers. She does interesting things like letting Instagram choose her outfits, and visiting a cheese-themed theme park in Korea. This video’s adventure: Staying at an underwater hotel. You literally have to SCUBA dive to get into Jewel’s Lodge in Florida. The hotel used to be a research station in the 1970s, so it’s not exactly the most luxurious digs in the world. It’s cramped, and looks like it would smell moldy, and all there is to do is stare out the window at the green, mucky water where there aren’t even many fish. In short: I wouldn’t want to stay at this hotel, but I’m glad there’s a video about it so I can see what it might be like to stay there.
The giant slide
The Belle Island Giant Slide in Detroit is wild. Closed for two years due to the pandemic, the slanted steel amusement park attraction reopened last week, but the slide worked a little too well, and videos of riders being launched into the air, slamming to slide’s metal surface, and careening out of control are delighting people all over the world. (No one, as far as I can tell, has actually been seriously hurt.) Sadly, some things are too beautiful to live, and the killjoys at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources washed and waxed the slide in effort to make it stop being so awesome.
To see the carnage for yourself, check out the above fan-made video for Detroit rapper Gmac Cash’s song “Giant Slide.” I’ve watched it 85,000 times, and I will never not love it.
The CEO of corn
This year, an internet legend was born: Corn Kid. This adorable little corn-loving fellow’s unbridled enthusiasm for corn is one of the most important things on Earth, and he will surely join never-to-be-forgotten internet celebrities and memes like keyboard cat, planking, and dumping ice water on your head because of something about some disease.
I’m trying to gain some insight into why this particular kid has captivated everyone’s heart — there are millions of videos out there of adorable kids being enthusiastic, after all — but I can’t figure out what unknowable life force makes this video so much better at making people happy than all the others. I’m just glad he’s out there, and that I can still manage to feel something like joy. The kid just loves corn.
Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?
A 10-second clip of Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine rocked the pop culture firmament in 2022. It purports to show Styles spitting on Chris Pine as Styles takes his seat at the Venice Film Festival screening of Wilde’s movie Don’t Worry Darling. The moment might not have been noticed if it weren’t landing like a hocked loogie right in the middle of the the behind-the-scenes drama about the poorly-received film, but now that it has been noticed, millions are poring over the footage and asking “did he spit or didn’t he?”
Now look at it slowed down. You can’t see the spit, but Styles bends towards Pine, and Pine definitely reacts suddenly to something with an expression that could be, “I can’t believe that dude just spat on me!”
I’m not buying it, though. Having replayed the footage 300 times, and considering the context, I’m confident there was no spitting involved. Here’s my thinking: 1) There’s no other evidence of bad blood between Pine and Styles. 2) Other footage shows the pair seeming to chat amicably right after the supposed spit-attack. 3) Who spits in someone’s lap?
Watch the clip again. See how Pine puts the sunglasses on his chair to applaud, then has just enough time to think “where are my sunglasses?” before looking down and seeing the shades in his lap? Given that interpretation, his reaction looks way more like, “There’s my sunglasses; God, I’m an idiot,” than “Harry Styles just spat on me!” Mystery solved! Next!
A guard collapsing before the dead queen
A guard stationed to stand at attention before the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II spoke for everyone on Earth this week when he collapsed in exhaustion just feet away from the royal carcass. Video of the ceremonial face-plant has been viewed millions of times on every format imaginable since it happened several days ago. When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the royal family did not say, “Oi, oi, what’s all this then? Some knackered rozzer havin’ a right ruck-a-bout before the queen mum?”
Despite the failure of the coffin-guard, the queen was not able to escape.
Utah’s rapping granny
Linda Paulson is an 80-year-old woman who ran for state senate in Utah. She loves traditional families, god, guns, and spitting bars online. In an effort to attract the youth vote in her district, Paulson released a rap video in the lead up to the election. It is far from what the kids call “fire.” Over a slowed-down riff ripped from MJ’s “Smooth Criminal,” Paulson drops awkward rhymes (and not-rhymes) that are worse than whatever you used to think of as the worst thing you’d ever heard.
Of course it went viral, with liberals rushing to dogpile insults from every platform and a few conservatives actually pretending they think it’s good, or funny, or at least saying no one should make fun of an old lady.
Don’t Hug me I’m Scared
The second season of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was released in the U.K. recently. It started on the internet with a series of bizarre shorts that earned millions of YouTube views, but the new season is in the form of full, half-hour episodes that blend the bright colours and happy songs of children’s programing with absurdist humour, surreal horror, and trenchant commentary on postmodern epistemology (really). It’s not like anything you’ve ever seen, I promise.
The show has not been officially released in the U.S., but so far, no one seems to mind the many rips fans are putting up YouTube. Episode One, in which Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck are introduced to the soul-killing concept of having a job, has been viewed over a million times on one YouTube channel alone. If I were you, I’d check it out now, before it gets pulled, or gets so popular you’ll no longer be cool for finding it early.
Trying to find the worst iPhone game 2
I’m fascinated by the concept of the “worst” anything, because the choices people make for the “worst movie” or “worst game” are almost always uniquely, remarkably bad, and once something is unique and remarkable enough to make you ask WTF? can you really even call it “bad” anymore, let alone “the worst ever?” To me, the worst iPhone game are totally unremarkable — so unremarkable that no one will ever play them, probably. Either way, all of the iPhone games in this video look extremely unpleasant, so I’m happy I can see them in a video instead of actually playing them.
Backyard squirrel lympics 3
YouTuber Mark Rober built a following of nearly 23 million people through videos that combine ridiculous stunts, genial humour, and science. His series of videos targeting “porch pirates” with booby trapped boxes are his most well-known, but they’re little mean-spirited for my taste. His squirrel-obstacle courses are just delightful however. If you’re not familiar, Rober sets up extremely elaborate obstacle course in his backyard to test the ingenuity and athleticism of neighbourhood squirrels. It’s equal parts funny, amazing, dramatic and educational. Squirrels are amazing animals we take for granted.
For the third entry in the series, Rober set up an Olympic-themed course, pitting squirrels against spinning balance beams, heavy balls, a long-jump, and more. It’s all in fun, but I share the concern of YouTube commenter Taylor Winter, who posts, “Mark might accidentally create a super smart squirrel lineage in his backyard if he keeps these shenanigans going for a few generations.” We can only hope.
The insect tier list
Let’s look at some bugs!
YouTube channel TierZoo has an innovative way of presenting natural sciences — it examines animals through the lens of video games, placing animal “factions” on best-to-worst tier lists based on their abilities, builds, and strategies. This viral video, The Insect Tier List combines beautiful macrophotography of insects with a deadpan VoiceOver that ranks various kinds of insects.
Silverfish are at the bottom of the pile, for their low defences and lame special ability (gaining XP from eating cellulose). At the top of the list, we have beetles, the tanks of the insect faction; beetles have the highest AC, while excelling in combat power, chemical weapons, and high movement speed. I won’t spoil the best insect of all, but their main advantage comes in their numbers and an unmatched ability to work together.
Who took the first selfie?
YouTuber Vsauce should be declared a national treasure and preserved in case there’s a monumental crisis. His latest video asks, “Who took the first selfie?” An interesting question in itself, but Vsauce’s deep dive of an answer is even more fascinating because the first selfie might have been “taken” millions of years ago. Or maybe it was in the 1830s. Maybe Anastasia Romanov, daughter of Russian Tzar Nicolas II, invented the selfie before being murdered by Bolsheviks. Or maybe the selfie didn’t exist until 2002, when the word was first used. It really depends on what you mean by “selfie.” If you watch the video you’ll learn why selfies should be called “felfies,” and that there is at least one example of a “reverse-selfie:” a photograph of every human alive with the exception of the person taking the picture.