VIDEO: "Interior crocodile alligator. I drive a Chevrolet movie theater."
Internet memes are kinda like wildfires: some asshole throws a cigarette butt out his car window, then he turns on the news the next day and the entire state is being evacuated and all the asshole can do is pull an Urkel voice and go, "Did I do that?" In this metaphor, as in most metaphors involving assholes, I am that asshole.
In September of 2007, a friend of mine played me a mixtape track by an up-and-coming Cleveland rapper known as Chip tha Ripper. It was an uncommonly hilarious freestyle packed with bizarre boasts and amazing taunts:
30s on my Chevrolet call me supa dupa
Garage like Roots, I got more whips than Kunta
Riviera sittin' on the Bulls' best hoopa
Y'all still ridin' 20s, y'all some Oompa Loompas
The greatest line, however, was the very last. Delivered with exaggerated, almost educational enunciation, it was a flamboyant whip boast the likes of which we'd never heard:
Interior crocodile alligator
I drive a Chevrolet movie theater
My friend rewound that line and played it over and over. It stuck out as an incredibly satisfying rap lyric, maybe the best couplet of the year: self-contained, perfectly symmetrical, and totally quotable (even if the only screen in my car is a digital clock still stuck on Daylight Saving Time). It handily beats Chamillionaire's analogous "so many screens up in the slab, I'm drivin' a computer lab" in the car-metaphor arena, which is where rap's most heated intellectual battles are fought.
Here's where the meme bit starts. I cut out a loop of the line to use as my cell's ringtone, finally replacing Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" after years of faithful service. Listening to an endless loop somehow made it 10 times funnier, so I paired it with a photo of a smug crocodile and posted it on Something Awful, a humor message board. Days later, an acquaintance grabbed the loop, dubbed it over some low-angle nature footage of a crocodile slithering across mud flats, and slapped it on YouTube.
Sometime around the middle of 2008, the YouTube video began to blow up. I don't know why. Maybe it caught on with some oddball Web community like 4chan.org. Or maybe the line's genius bubbled up out of pure digital entropy. On the Internet, these things just happen.
The clip now has just under a million views, dozens of video responses, a few remixes, and more than 10,000 comments — most of which are just the words "Interior crocodile alligator/I drive a Chevrolet movie theater" repeated over and over. According to EncyclopediaDramatica.com, the ultimate scholarly nexus of Internet stupidity, the clip " . . . has serious potential to become the next Rickroll [the wildly popular act of tricking unsuspecting victims into watching Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" video]. Like its predecessor, it's annoying, gets stuck in your head, and is easy to loop onto a misleading YouTube video. Unlike Rickroll, it sucks and was never funny."
(I'd disagree, of course, with the notion that the line isn't funny, but I'll admit that foisting it on the unsuspecting as a non-sequitur doesn't seem like the height of Internet humor.)