The Incredible Storytelling Artistry of u/shittymorph
An appreciation of Reddit’s premier bamboozler.
“In nineteen ninety eight the undertaker threw mankind off hеll in a cell, and plummeted sixteen feet through an announcer’s table.” -u/shittymorph’s reddit bio
I can’t tell you the first time shittymorph tricked me. It’s happened too many times, and any answer I give would simply be a guess. But I can certainly tell you the last time it happened: last week. In a popular post on r/gifs called “VR changes everything” (pictured below), I saw a comment that had been awarded 12 silver, 3 gold, and 1 platinum.
The comment with 12 silver, 3 gold, and 1 platinum was one long paragraph of text. It had impeccable spelling, grammar, and word choice. It told a compelling story that I found genuinely interesting. All telltale signs, but I was too intrigued to notice them.
Then I got to the all-too-familiar end of the comment.
See the words “nineteen ninety eight?” That’s his calling card. No matter how the comment starts, the end of a shittymorph comment is ALWAYS Undertaker throwing Mankind off Hell in a Cell 21 years ago. It’s when we all find out this captivating story was a lie and we’ve been bamboozled yet again.
These are the facts:
- shittymorph comments should not be this funny. Act 3 is always the same. The punch line does not change.
- shittymorph comments should not fool thousands of people every time. His username is plainly visible and people know what’s coming when they see it.
And yet, they’re always funny and they always fool people. Why?
Glad you asked. There are three reasons.
1. Great stories give us tunnel vision.
Ever been locked into an unputdownable read? Same. The rest of the world falls away. It becomes impossible to notice details you would otherwise not miss, whether it’s a significant other talking to you or a plainly visible reddit username.
2. Credibility matters.
shittymorph is famous for the end of the comment, but note what’s going on at the start of it: He immediately establishes some form of credibility.
- “I bought Zero Caliber with extremely low expectations but it’s easily one of the best VR shooters out there.” Translation: He has firsthand knowledge of this game and is humble enough to acknowledge that his first impression was not accurate.
- “For those wondering Banksy was either in the auction house himself or had a helper present that likely shredded the artwork with a remote control.” Translation: Hey, no big deal, but I just wanted to be genuinely fascinating and helpful here.
- “I deliver for Frito Lay and would argue this isn’t the best advice.” Translation: I am an expert. You would be wise to listen.
3. We all want to be the one who knows things.
The next time you wow somebody with a fact or a piece of trivia, monitor your personal reaction. Feels great, right? You’re not alone in feeling that way. It’s universal and biological.
If knowledge is social currency, then the first two acts of a shittymorph comment are roughly equivalent to being handed a wad of cash. His setups are FASCINATING, and we can’t wait to share the tidbit with friends. They’ll be impressed with our piece of trivia, and our social standing will increase ever so slightly. We can’t fight the desire to be the person who knows. It’s in our programming.
So if you, like me, will never stop being bamboozled by shittymorph, take heart. You are human. You crave story. It’s a truly beautiful thing, and it’s been in your DNA since you were created back in nineteen ninety eight when the undertaker threw mankind off hell in a cell, and plummeted sixteen feet through an announcer’s table.