Life After Snake, Or How Being an Internet Meme Changed Everything
In the summer of 2009, I wasn’t exactly in the best place in life. I had dropped out of college just a few credit hours shy of graduating for personal reasons I won’t dive into here because they involve others, and I’m not trying to air all their dirty laundry in public. After dropping out, I got a job at a factory that puts baked beans in plastic containers. The future was bright.
By February 2010, I moved to Dallas with my girlfriend and her brother. We had a variety of reasons we could give you for why, I wanted to do standup in a bigger city, we wanted to get the metal band off the ground, but mostly we were lost, and figured running away was as good an option as anything else.
In Dallas, we lived in a shithole apartment. We couldn’t get rid of the roaches because it was a slum. One day Amber was escorted from the apartment by a swat team because a neighbor was threatening to blow the place up. Real classy joint. She was working at a Lowe’s and I got a job as a security guard at a Target, and I did standup so few times that I only even remember one other comic from the scene.
I did keep making videos though, and let me tell you, they were TERRIBLE. Some terrible in the worst way, and some terrible in the best way. This was the old wild west days of YouTube when it wasn’t just vlogs and pranks. This is when YouTube was weird and glorious. So when Amber came home with a stack of animal hats she got off clearance for 10 cents apiece at the Michael’s up the road for me to use in videos, it was honestly not out of the ordinary.
What was out of the ordinary was how much she laughed when I put the snake hat on and did the “I’m a Snake” voice for the first time ever. When you live with someone like me, it gets to a point where there is a lot less laughing, and a lot more being annoyed. This laughter from her meant I was on to something.
So I record it, and the 3 minutes it took to make “I’m a Snake,” changed the rest of my life.
It was a gradually growth at first, then some blogs shared it, then when it had around 200,000 views I got an email from the producers at Tosh.0. Of course, that’s what really put it out there in the world.
Now that I’ve described the process of getting there, what I really wanted to talk about is what it’s like now, and let me tell you, it’s not any less weird. In fact, it might be weirder. This video has popped up in popular vines, the audio has been repurposed over other videos, big vloggers and streamers mention it, hell, I even come across I’m a Snake references on totally unrelated posts online. I’ve created this crazy piece of the internet that is just out there in the zeitgeist, and I couldn’t make it disappear if I wanted to.
I don’t own it any more. Everyone does.
It also helped me land a job. I now work in social media advertising, doing work I can almost guarantee you’ve heard of if you have spent any time on the internet at all this year. Having this background in social media use and fame helped the company I work for, VML (one of the top 10 Agencies in the world, no big deal), take a chance on me. I’ve been there for 4 years now, and my coworkers still pull up the snake video in meetings.
So, what’s life like after snake? I’m married to the woman that bought me the snake hat, I’ve been working at an awesome job for 4 years, and I run a monthly comedy show where I get to do whatever I want. Also, YouTube still sends me a check every month for my videos. I’d say living life as a meme has really paid off.
It also helps that without the hat, no one has any idea who I am. All the fame with none of the hassle.
It was something I struggled with for a long time. The idea that this short form banality was somehow going to define my creative existence. That no matter how hard I tried, nothing was ever going to become as big as the snake. Then I realized that it doesn’t have to. I’ve already made something that big, and that’s pretty fucking cool. (And, I have actually done something even bigger since then that you can figure out if you dig hard enough.)
Now when I create, I create what makes me happy, and I realize no matter what I do, the snake comments will always be there.
And I embrace them, because I’m a Snake, and I’m damn proud of it.
Oh, and if you’ve somehow missed out on this video and yet still for some reason read this entire post, here’s a link.