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F- this, we're going three blades. Uh, four? Five? Six? Seven? Thirty?
February 9, 2011 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me find examples of parodies, jokes, and satirical pieces that eventually became real.

Some examples:

Trading Spouses, a Dave Chappelle sketch that was written as a parody of the show "Trading Spaces" was made into an actual tv show (with a few modifications).

Keanu Reeves is shown doing Shakespeare in an episode of the Critic. Keanu Reeves would go on to be in Brannagh's Much Ado About Nothing and star in a stage production of Hamlet in Toronto. Also, the Critic had a reference to "Rocky 6" as a joke, based on the idea that there would never be a Rocky 6. There was.

The title of this question refers to an SNL ad AND an Onion article, the first advertising a fake "3-bladed razor" and the latter a fake "5-bladed" razor. Both 3- and 5-bladed razors would later be manufactured in the real world.

Another SNL ad featured a "couples' toilet", two toilets beside each other facing in opposite directions. I believe there was a Metafilter link to someone who made this IRL.

Famously, an Onion article entitled "Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over" written after the election of George Bush featured a scarily accurate prediction of the coming eight years.

XKCD featured a comic where someone creates a program that purchases from ebay and sends the items to themselves. Another Metafilter link featured someone who made this IRL.

Etc. Etc. Etc. I'm looking for things intended to be parodies, satire, or jokes that became real actual things.
posted by Ndwright to Society & Culture (67 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
The film Machete was originally a spoof movie trailer on Grindhouse.
posted by ghharr at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The tauntaun sleeping bag started out as an April Fools joke, and was never intended to be manufactured. But ThinkGeek's audience went wild for it, and now it's real.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:52 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Pet Rock.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:53 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The faux rock group Spinal Tap eventually went on tour.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:57 AM on February 9, 2011


The Thagomizer was a joke from a Far Side cartoon that is now being used in some circles as an actual name for a dinosaur part.
posted by bondcliff at 7:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Up to eleven from Spinal Tap resulted in a bunch of knobs going to eleven. Full list on the linked wiki.
posted by valeries at 8:01 AM on February 9, 2011


Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:03 AM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Blast, I didn't see I was being duplicative.

To redeem myself, I'll say that Uvtu Grafvba was essentially The Three from Adaptation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:05 AM on February 9, 2011


Some parts of 1984 have come true, certainly.
posted by Slinga at 8:08 AM on February 9, 2011


The bottle deposit scam from Seinfeld is apparently a real thing.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:10 AM on February 9, 2011


The Pure Evoke-IS Marshall radio. The volume goes up to 11.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:17 AM on February 9, 2011


A Streetcar Named Desire as a musical was first parodied in the Simpsons's episode "A streetcar named Marge" in 1992. Then in 1995, an opera of Streetcar premiered.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:18 AM on February 9, 2011


VIgor is a clone of the vi test-editor with Clippy-like add-on. This was inspired by a User Friendly strip.
posted by mkb at 8:30 AM on February 9, 2011


Also, The Producers might count.
posted by mkb at 8:32 AM on February 9, 2011


Dunno if it applies, but The Blues Brothers was a one-shot thing on SNL six months before their first album appeared and two years before the movie (I believe they also opened for Steve Nartin on tour, but I do not know when). They have been sporadically playing in various incarnations for decades now: pretty good for what appeared at the time to be something like the Bees.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:48 AM on February 9, 2011


Scientology was allegedly started as a bar bet between L. Ron Hubbard and Robert Heinlein.

Sticherbeast: "To redeem myself, I'll say that Uvtu Grafvba was essentially The Three from Adaptation."

YOU JUST BLEW MY MIND
posted by mkultra at 8:51 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The film Machete was originally a spoof movie trailer on Grindhouse.

and now another spoof movie trailer from Grindhouse, Hobo With A Shotgun, starring Rutger Hauer.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:00 AM on February 9, 2011


I just saw these today: Levi's Ex-Girlfriend Jeans

I have to believe those started as a joke somewhere. Please?
posted by mkultra at 9:14 AM on February 9, 2011


Chess boxing!

See also Defictionalization with a side of Ascended Meme.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:17 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


A movie adaptation of Cats was used as a joke in Six Degrees of Separation.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:19 AM on February 9, 2011


Seven Eleven actually became Homer's Simpson's store during the media blitz for the Simpsons movie.
posted by effluvia at 9:22 AM on February 9, 2011


iCade: iPad Arcade Cabinet. "ThinkGeek April Fools product comes to life!"
posted by alms at 9:23 AM on February 9, 2011


Some fact-checking errata first:

Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing (1993) came out a year before the first season of the Critic.

The original UK Wife Swap aired on the BBC before the "Trading Spouses" episode of Chappelle's Show.

Now, to contribute...

There's some dispute over whether KFC originally intended to ever actually sell the "doubledown" when they announced it last April Fool's Day, or whether it was the internet reception to the idea that made it happen.

The line "I've had it with these motherf___ing snakes on this motherf___ing plane!" wasn't in the original Snakes on a Plane script; it originated as a joke made by commenters and bloggers on the internet playing on Jacksons' predilection for playing characters who shout and sweat a lot. The line became so associated with the movie that the studio figured they'd better include it or disappoint their audience.
posted by patnasty at 9:23 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Additionally: In 1973, Johnny Carson made a joke about a toilet-paper shortage on the Tonight Show that much of his audience didn't realize was a joke, prompting a run on toilet paper and subsequent hoarding of it, thus causing an actual toilet paper shortage.
posted by patnasty at 9:33 AM on February 9, 2011


Not sure this is quite what you're looking for, but Weird Al's parody "White and Nerdy" is now much more well-known and mainstream than the song it was parodying, "Ridin' Dirty".
posted by Melismata at 9:37 AM on February 9, 2011


Also, the Mighty Ducks became a real hockey team after the movie came out.
posted by Melismata at 9:51 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is a real life restaurant chain that started as a plot element in Forrest Gump.
posted by theodolite at 9:58 AM on February 9, 2011


There are many from The Simpsons, but the only one I can think of right now (and the most dramatic example, doubtlessly) is the Ernst & Gunter tiger attack—hilarious then, arguably less hilarious when it actually happened to Sigfried and/or Roy.
posted by AugieAugustus at 10:10 AM on February 9, 2011


"Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!

You remember that as the signature line from Snakes on a Plane, right?

Well, actually, that line was neither in the original script nor the first cut of the movie. It was added in a reshoot after the movie went viral on the Internet. The idea being, "Well, if that's what the public thinks would be funny to see in the movie, we should, you know, actually put it in the movie."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:14 AM on February 9, 2011


ThinkGeek also featured a spoof advert for the 'Space Monolith Action Figure' from 2001:A Space Odyssey. It received a lot of attention and is now on sale.
posted by bullox at 10:19 AM on February 9, 2011


How about how Festivus was real, introduced as a comical storyline to the general population, and is now increasingly popular, and celebrated on a larger scale?
posted by peagood at 10:20 AM on February 9, 2011


Wag the Dog was released in late 1997, and the Lewinski scandal broke in January 1998.
posted by SpecialK at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


xkcd also proposed an audio preview for comments on youtube, and for a while it was a real feature.

Also, check out this College Humor roundup of jokes that became real.
posted by O9scar at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't find a link, but SNL once (in the 70's) did a spoof ad for an item called "Mr Tea" - a takeoff on Mr. Coffee - a machine for making tea. (The joke being, of course, that you can make tea easily with water and a teabag.)

Now you can buy this
posted by anastasiav at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2011


Wonka bars. Didn't exist until after the movie "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".
posted by Melismata at 10:26 AM on February 9, 2011


Keeping with the Spinal Tap theme, a mockumentary about a 15 minutes of fame, overage, forgotten, down on their luck metal band, inspires Anvil!The Story Of Anvil, a documentary about a REAL 15 minutes of fame, overage, forgotten, down on their luck metal band.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 10:41 AM on February 9, 2011


These are great, keep it coming!
posted by Ndwright at 11:01 AM on February 9, 2011


The Simpsons parodied a "Soy Pop (with gag suppressant)" and now you can buy SoyJoy bars and soy based ice cream.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:06 AM on February 9, 2011


The Onion 2003: Voice Recognition Software Yelled At. This is pretty much my daily existence calling any sort of big company sales/support number and doing voice to text on my phone.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2011


damn dirty ape: "The Simpsons parodied a "Soy Pop (with gag suppressant)" and now you can buy SoyJoy bars and soy based ice cream."

I'm still scarred by memories of my dad bringing home Tofutti in the early 80's, which predates The Simpsons.
posted by mkultra at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2011


The Colbert Report appeared first as a fake commercial on the Daily Show, I believe.
posted by procrastination at 11:35 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


A classic episode from the golden age of sf (shut up, it was the golden age when I was a kid), as recounted here:
Campbell revealed a sly sense of humor in the November 1949 issue. He had always encouraged literary criticism by Astounding's readership, and in the November 1948 issue he published a letter to the editor by a reader named Richard A. Hoen that contained a detailed ranking of the contents of an issue one year in the future. Campbell went along with the joke and contracted stories from most of the authors mentioned in the letter that would follow the fan's imaginary story titles. One of the best-known stories from that issue is "Gulf", by Robert A. Heinlein. Other stories and articles were written by a number of the most famous authors of the time: Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, Lester del Rey, A. E. van Vogt, L. Sprague de Camp, and the astronomer R. S. Richardson.
And, as I wrote here:
Leigh Brackett's "Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon" ... was mentioned as an over-the-top imaginary title in (as I recall) an interview, but a French magazine, in translating the interview, misunderstood and said that she had actually written "La prêtresse pourpre de la lune folle," and somehow or other she wound up writing the story. I can't find anything about this online, but it was in the early '60s.
posted by languagehat at 11:43 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


You might find more ideas by scanning through this thread.
posted by torticat at 11:49 AM on February 9, 2011


(Or, alternatively, by googling "life imitates the onion.")
posted by torticat at 11:50 AM on February 9, 2011


Omni Consumer Products ("The Only Choice") sells TruBlood, Stay Puft marshmallows, Sex Panther cologne, and Brawndo, the Thirst Mutilator.
posted by Iridic at 12:10 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive; Officiously to keep alive
posted by Laura_J at 12:14 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


In September 1986 the Harvard Lampoon parody of USA Today had the headline "Royal Di-vorce stuns U.K."
posted by DanSachs at 12:32 PM on February 9, 2011


One of my absolute favourites is the series of fake Famicom cartridge designs turned into actual games by indie devs.
posted by sleepcrime at 12:56 PM on February 9, 2011


Another episode of the Critic had a musical about The Hunchback of Notre Dame years before the Disney movie came out.
posted by catwash at 1:00 PM on February 9, 2011


This is a bit orthogonal to the point, but it's still funny. There was a political cartoon after the Abramhoff scandal of a politician racing to give the money away at all costs and he'd just shoved a giant bag of money into the arms of the guy sin charge of the "One-Eyed Diabetic Cat Rescue."

Delighted, I e-mailed the cartoonist saying, "That cracked me up because I have a one-eyed diabetic cat! It's such a minor subset of cats I've never seen it mentioned in print before" or something like that.

He e-mailed back, "I picked something I was sure didn't exist. Irony is dead."

My google-fu failed me in finding this cartoon to share, sorry!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:29 PM on February 9, 2011


"SNL once (in the 70's) did a spoof ad for an item called "Mr Tea" - a takeoff on Mr. Coffee - a machine for making tea. … Now you can buy this"

Ahem.
posted by Pinback at 2:34 PM on February 9, 2011


XKCD once did a strip about Rule 34 which suggested, in jest, guitar-based porn. The readers made it happen with wetriffs.com
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:57 PM on February 9, 2011


This t-shirt on Think Geek was originally an April Fool's joke, but there was so much demand they actually made it.
posted by lollusc at 4:16 PM on February 9, 2011


Duff beer?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:20 PM on February 9, 2011


I'm surprised no one mentioned the red Swingline stapler in Office Space. It was fictitious, but became real after the movie because so many people wanted one.
posted by O9scar at 5:57 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two examples that aren't (quite) jokes. Spoiler warning:

Borges wrote a short story called Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius about a group of intellectuals -- including a fictionalized Borges -- who invent a world called Tlön, complete with history, language, and literature. The rest of world learns about Tlön and adopts its culture. Eventually, Earth becomes Tlön.

Similarly, Eco wrote a book called Foucault's Pendulum where three bored editors satirize paranoid conspiracy theorists by inventing a pastiche of conspiracy theories called The Plan. Unfortunately, Poe's Law takes hold, paranoid conspiracy theorists think The Plan is real, and Bad Things Happen.
posted by amery at 9:11 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is actually a red-and-white striped pole at the south pole.
posted by moons in june at 3:14 AM on February 10, 2011


In Max Barry's Syrup, Coca-Cola finances a Hollywood action movie that's one long advertisement for Coke, starring Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow and Winona Ryder.

A couple of years later, BMW financed The Hire.

There's also some similarities between Fukk, a Coke variant invented by the hero of the novel, and Coca-Cola BlāK.
posted by Georgina at 4:43 AM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there's two different answers going on here. I think the tauntaun sleeping bag and the red stapler are missing the point: Things that were put out there as a joke or satire and that, despite being seen as ridiculous, became true. The red stapler and tauntaun sleeping bag came got turned into real products because there was a demand. Where as the "Fuck it, we're doing five blades" and the "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over" where put out as a joke but because true.

Look to something like Back to the Future II: In the alleyway where they landed in 2015, there are crates upon crates of Laserdics and CDs ready to be destroyed. A prediction, sure, but could also be see as a jab at a then fairly new format (CDs in 1982, Laserdics in the late 1970s) being replaced by something else. And yet, here we are in 2011, and we rarely buy CDs as a society anymore, or at least less than we used to.

Florida gets a baseball team? Perhaps a joke, but now certainly true. Cubs win the World Series? A joke that is still as such. (Looking around on the Tubes, someone has a screenshot of the USA Today with "Slamball" playoffs listed. Twenty years after the fact, Slamball existed, but not because someone saw Back to the Future II and decided there needed to be Slamball.

The Lisa's Wedding episode of the Simpsons counts as having jokes that ended up being true. Soy snacks are listed as one, but what about the motion controlled video games that Bart plays? Or the vending machine that takes a credit card? Jokes that came true.

tl;dr -- There's a difference between "this is so silly it'd never happen, oh hey it did actually happen!" and "Hey, people seem to like this idea, let's make money off of it."

/wetblanket
posted by gc at 7:00 AM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was that throwaway line in Demolition Man about Arnold Schwarzenegger's political career and presidency.

Didn't seem quite as silly when he became the governor of California and people started seriously talking about amending the Constitution so that foreign-born citizens would be eligible to run for President...
posted by C^3 at 7:00 AM on February 10, 2011


anastasiav: I can't find a link, but SNL once (in the 70's) did a spoof ad for an item called "Mr Tea" - a takeoff on Mr. Coffee - a machine for making tea. (The joke being, of course, that you can make tea easily with water and a teabag.)

Now you can buy this


Worse, you can buy tea in "K cups" for your single-cup making machine. Srsly, it's tea. In a packet. But there you are, 47 tea varieties in overpriced plastic containers.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:42 PM on February 10, 2011


Georgina: In Max Barry's Syrup, Coca-Cola finances a Hollywood action movie that's one long advertisement for Coke, starring Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow and Winona Ryder.

Vaguely related: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, by Morgan Spurlock. Less action, more adverts.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on February 10, 2011


I cannot remember the name, but there was a failed short-run sitcom in the late 80s maybe even 1990, about a guy from 2050 or so comes back to then present-day earth, on the run from time cops or something, and hides out with some typical 80s TV suburban family.

Think 'My Favorite Martian' meets 'Who's the Boss?', but not too much, because those thoughts are painful.

No one believes him, most think he's some crazy weirdo, throwing around money with Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Travolta on them, apparently highly respected presidents of the future.

This is back before his comeback, when Travolta was if not forgotten, mocked mercilessly for his 70s un-hipness, and Arnold was just coming off making Predator, long before Arnold, Jesse Ventura, and Carl Weathers contemplated running for office.

The only line I can remember was this, yelled by some suburban mom who was the female lead: "You can take your John Travolta disco money and just get the heck outta my house!!"
posted by chambers at 6:35 PM on February 10, 2011


Don't forget In Like Flintfrom 1967 where James Coburn asks:

"An actor, as President?"

His expression is weirdly prescient, first he looks befuddled, then changing to a slyly amused, devious plotting look.

Also from 1967, the evil Phone Company's plans in The President's Analyst are eerily foretelling (although a bit exaggerated) of personal communication with personal mobile phones (eventually to be implanted in the brain from birth) and the phone company monitoring and tracking of all people and their communications for 'safety purposes.'
posted by chambers at 6:47 PM on February 10, 2011


I saw a John Waters interview at the time the new "Hairspray" movie came out. He said that, in a previous interview, he'd joked about the different versions it had been through, and said he was thinking of doing "Hairspray On Ice" next.

When he got off air and checked his messages, he had four people wanting to produce "Hairspray On Ice". So look out for that one.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:53 PM on February 12, 2011


Years before Hannibal Rising became a real thing, there was an SNL skit (with Matt Damon!), Hannibal Lecter Goes To College. Video clips seem to be lost to the ages, which is a shame, because the script itself is mediocre, but Damon's Anthony Hopkins imitation made up for it.
posted by kagredon at 10:43 PM on March 5, 2011


Sadie Hawkins Day started out as a holiday in the L'il Abner comic strip but was widely celebrated in US colleges for 20 years afterwards.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2011


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