The funny meme: even if you do not know what a meme is, you can recognize one. They are in all your social media feeds, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and all the blogs. Even if you don't go online, you're likely to still recognize a number of the most popular funny memes. But how did these memes get started, and where can you find some hilarious ones to lift your spirits when you're down?

Getting Meme Serious for a Moment

We could go in-depth into the history of memes.. The whole concept has a pretty serious origin and predates the internet by millennia. It comes from the Greek word mimēma, which means “that which is imitated.” It gained traction in US English in the 1970s, as biologists began using it to refer to the way genes replicate.

However, today the word is more often associated with the internet and funny images, video clips, and jokes. The basic definition today is “an idea that permeates culture.” Rather than gene replication, the word meme is now connected to cat pictures, things Kanye loves (himself), and good vs. evil Kermit the Frog thoughts.

Dancing Baby Cha-Cha

Ostensibly, the dancing baby video is the Internet's first great funny meme. It received such wide recognition that it appeared in episodes of the TV show Ally McBeal in 1998. This means the first Internet-based funny meme is older than a lot of people might think. The video itself wasn't created as a meme or any type of viral video. Instead, it was a demonstration of 3D-animation rendering technology that got widely shared on Compuserve.

At the time, most people had dial-up internet that was, by today's standards, incredibly slow. A good number of people didn't even have internet at all, and there were very, very few social media sites. This means that the first memes spread more slowly than they do today. There was also no real concept of the internet meme yet. In the end, someone paired the dancing baby with Blue Swede's song “Hooked on a Feeling," and Baby Cha-Cha (and the funny meme concept) was born.

Today, we are so deep in the funny meme genre that there is even a type of meme dedicated to laughing at how difficult it is to explain memes to the uninitiated. There are also sites that let you create your own memes by adding text to current popular meme photos or even uploading your own photo. You may even create the next incredibly popular meme using one of these sites.

Where Can You Find the Best Funny Memes?

There are a number of different websites that collect memes. If you want to spend hours laughing at some of the best memes the internet has to offer, here are several places to start.

South Park

If you missed any of the great early funny meme hits, the animated show South Park has your back (and all episodes are online for free). The 2008 episode “Canada on Strike” (season 12, episode 4) spoofs all the required early YouTube memes. It features funny meme stars of the time, including Keyboard Cat, Dramatic Chipmunk, Sneezing Panda, and Numa Numa. They all meet at the DMV-like Department of Internet Money to try and collect their wealth from being Internet famous.

The Cheezburger Turning Point

The major turning point in the rapid spread of a funny meme came from a single source: I Can Has Cheezburger? Inspired by a viral image of a cat saying the site's name (I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?), the site's founders created the first well-known meme generator. All you needed was to upload or select a picture and add a caption to create your funny meme, and the image macro (the official term) would turn it into a meme you could quickly share with friends.


This site launched in January 2007 and quickly became one of the Internet's most visited sites. Even more than a decade later, it reigns as one of the top funny meme generator sites. If you need a funny meme pick-up, you should Google the site. Just be ready to lose at least an hour of your productive life.

Memes Spread Like Wildfire

Because of smartphones, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, today's memes move so fast you might blink and miss one. However, new memes are not required. As we've showed above, even the oldest of memes can still make you laugh. Did you Google Baby Cha-Cha?

There are some memes that are time- and context-sensitive. However, for the most part, if you missed a meme from last year, it is still new to you. Go ahead and laugh to yourself if you need to. Laughter might be what you need.

Is Laughter Effective in Improving Moods?

two women laughing

The cliché “laughter is the best medicine” exists for a reason. Medical studies have shown that laughing helps relieve even the worst of stress. Laughter taps into our brains' plasticity and provides protective qualities that diffuse stress and boost resilience. Artists and creative types know that laughter often precedes a creative breakthrough, as it means your mind is starting to connect the absurd, which is where creative insight hides.

There is even medical evidence that laughing sparks the growth of new brain connections (neurons and synapses). Yoga gurus in India have even developed laughter yoga to help disciples make spiritual breakthroughs. Today, you only have to click through a few web pages to find the funny meme that will help you realize true enlightenment.

The Ultimate Funny Meme List

With all the meme greatness out there, it is possible to find tons of great memes on only five major meme consolidation sites. Bonus: Several allow you to quickly create your own memes so that you can amuse your friends. We recommend these amazing meme sites:

I Can Has Cheezburger? 

The original meme generator is still the biggest and best out there. You can spend hours, even days, exploring all kinds of memes on virtually any theme ranging from new to (Internet) ancient. You can also create your own memes by uploading your own pictures as well as adding captions to their existing collection. They even have competitions to see who can write the best meme caption for pictures shared with the site.

Know Your Meme

Think of this like Wikipedia for all the most popular memes. It not only shares some of the best examples with you, it explains their origin, history, and variations on the theme. This is a great resource for understanding how a meme works (it is often more nuanced than you may realize) as well as a great place to catch up on ones you may have missed. Know Your Meme will make you the funny meme know-it-all among your friends.

Facebook Dank Memes

The term “dank” as a classification is a meme unto itself. It tends to refer to darker, often “intellectual-ish” or insider memes that take a bit of getting-up-to-speed to understand. But the effort is worth it. The bonus for this Facebook funny meme group is that you can avoid all that effort it takes to find a funny meme. Here, a curated collection appears right in your Facebook feed. 

YouTube D3 D4NKEST

This YouTube meme collection site lets you see the best of the latest memes. Some are funny, others are thinkers, and some, well, might or might not make sense to anyone. It includes still image and video memes in a video compilation series, so you can sit back and watch rather than having to click around.

Reddit's Meme Subreddit

This one will take you down the meme rabbit hole, as well as keep you up-to-date on the latest (and sometimes a little too avant-garde) meme trends. Note that you will have to learn how to use Reddit, which is a massive discussion board of all possible topics. But if you learn how, you will be the meme king or queen among your circle of friends. 

CONCLUSION

woman laughing

What started here as a light exploration of the funniest of memes has turned into part Internet history lesson, part medical exploration, and a list of six different places where you can tap into the best meme catalogs. We may have only overtly listed five, but there are many other meme sites out there. You can find dozens simply by doing an online search.

The bottom line to all this funny meme stuff is that a good laugh is only a few clicks away. How much time you spend going down the funny meme path is up to you. While you may not find them all hilarious, there are so many memes available that you're sure to find a few that make you laugh. If you don't, well, you can always create your own funny memes and share them with your friends. Maybe one of them will go viral and be featured on the meme websites we've discussed here.