Welcome back, our dear Pandas. We know you’re meme-hardened internet veterans who have seen more jokes than most others. There’s probably nothing that could faze or befuddle you anymore, right? Well, to that I’ll say, “Wait just a minute,” because we’ve got some great pics to make your jaws drop while you do a double-take.
This is where the ‘Hol Up!’ subreddit comes in. The online community is dedicated to images, memes, and dark jokes that make you raise an eyebrow and wonder what the ever-loving heck is going on there. Upvote the pics that confused you, made you laugh, and made you say ‘hold up!’ as you scroll down. Enjoy! Just remember, some of these are not for the faint of heart. However, one recent study has indicated that lovers of dark humor also tend to be more intelligent, less aggressive, and have a better time fighting off the blues.
Comedy writer, musical comedian, and 'pop star in waiting' Ariane Sherine told Bored Panda that dark humor is surprising and that this surprise, along with misdirection, make us laugh. "We laugh out of shock at the inappropriateness of the joke—it's a kind of 'that shouldn't be allowed, but it's really funny as a result' laughter." Read on for our full interview with Ariane, as well as for our chat with the founder of the r/HolUp subreddit, Susan, aka redditor Siouxsie_siouxv2, and a handful of other moderators who were all very humorous and lighthearted. "r/HolUp is stupid and terrible, but it's our stupid and terrible," the founder said.
The r/HolUp community has 1.5 million ‘memes refugees’ as they like to call their members. Meanwhile, the members that are currently online are known as ‘meme connoisseurs’ which we think perfectly encapsulates the sarcastic, fun-loving spirit of the community that pokes fun at everything. It’s all done for the laughs and humor seems to be their highest virtue.
The founder of the r/HolUp subreddit Susan joked with Bored Panda that r/HolUp "features the world's most pristine collection of sacred ancient jpeg artifacts." According to her, she made the subreddit "to go with the fat Albert meme," but forgot it existed and one day showed up to see that the place had 50k subscribers. Susan also added that they try not to pay any attention to anyone who's not a fan of dark humor. "Ignoring people is a burden, but we make do."
Meanwhile, comedian Ariane told Bored Panda that being mindful of everyone's sensitivities would lead to massive self-censorship. However, we should also try to be tactful even as we put humor above feelings. "I don't think there are any topics that should never be joked about, but people are unlikely to respond receptively if you're making dark jokes about a tragedy in the immediate aftermath."
Ariane continued: "Everyone has something personal they're sensitive about, whether that's cancer, obesity, miscarriage, etc. If you start factoring in everyone's sensitivities you'd be censoring yourself a lot and would be an extremely safe comedian, and these comics tend not to make it big." In other words, trying to please everyone would mean that your humor falls flat. If you want something neutral, go for dad jokes (I love them, just as much as I love dark humor.)
Revealing to Bored Panda that one of her favorite games is the shocking card game 'Cards Against Humanity,' Ariane added that it "definitely contains topics that I don't even want to list here for fear of being canceled! But it's absolutely hilarious."
Ariane said: "As a comedian, I'm not very shockable, but that said, someone I know made a joke about the Grenfell Tower tragedy which was just too horrible for my taste—and when something's too distasteful for you, it ceases to be funny."
There's a deep fear of being 'canceled' or 'de-platformed' that's making comedians (and ordinary people) rethink their jokes. At least on social media where it can be taken out of context very easily (tone and sarcasm are difficult things to get right on the net). Ariane believes that some parts of society have become too sensitive to humor while other parts don't do any editing to their jokes. There needs to be a balance between the two.
Are They Dead Yet?
"Sometimes that's good as the jokes involve 'punching down' towards minorities, etc. But they'll still make those jokes in private, and their friends will still laugh. I think 'too touchy' can't be applied across the board—but if we're making dark jokes, we should aim for the space between 'too safe' and 'too distasteful!'"
Another moderator at r/HolUp, user N8theGr8. said that the subreddit's popularity can be explained by the fact that they're "rootinest tootinest subreddit on this side of the Appalatchie." If you haven't gathered yet, the mods are a hoot and you'll fit right in as a member if you like to have fun. "Users know that what you see is what you get, until it's not!"
N8theGr8 went into more detail about the subreddit constantly walking on a razor's edge (that's suspended above thin ice). "About once a month we get modmails telling us that the icon we picked for the subreddit is a racist caricature, but it's actually from an 80's cartoon called 'Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.' It's an homage to that cartoon rather than a racist stereotype." The mod also joked that "there's no such thing as right or wrong" and that they subscribe to moral nihilism."
El Capitan Americo
Meanwhile, moderator Cwenham said that the subreddit is "like a fairground ride that gives people the thrill of danger without actually being in danger, r/HolUp gives you the feeling of being edgy without actually being edgy. And the fairground is Action Park."
Cwenham joked that they might have ended up in the community against their will (is this a not-so-subtle plea for help? I guess we'll never find out. Blink twice if you're in trouble!). "One day Susan asked me if her drink tasted like scopolamine and I woke up here. I'm really amazed that they managed to fill this bathtub with so much ice. Why does my tummy hurt?"
According to the mod, some people always seek opportunities to be offended "like bums looking for cans and bottles with a deposit" and the sub is "like a waste tip swarming with seagulls" for them. |For everyone else, r/HolUp is like a waste tip swarming with seagulls."
Are You Taking It?
Yet another moderator, Tech-Support-420, pitched in with their insights. They became a mod on r/HolUp nearly half a year ago and thanked their "great overlord u/siouxsie_siouxv2 the grandmaster of r/dankmemes that created this sub 2 and a half years ago."
Tech-Support-420 opened up about the simplicity that drives people to visit the subreddit. "People like memes. People like funny/edgy memes this place offers them. What sets us apart is our community, We have a 9k+ member discord server and fun activities on the sub like spin the wheel, and the subreddit mods have their own club and has a ton of lore as well."
The community is meant for edgy jokes that aren't supposed to be taken seriously at all. However, Tech-Support-420 added that the community does have its fair share of redditors that get offended "at any tiny joke" and "13-year-old edgelords" who think that spamming low-effort shock value jokes is funny.
Never Have I Ever
The ‘Hol Up!’ subreddit is fairly new. It was founded only in the Autumn of 2018. While some of the content its members post is fairly innocent and will get a chuckle out of you, other pics and videos might really get a genuine WTF reaction from you. Just remember not to take any of it seriously. It’s a place of humor, not getting angry at how ‘insensitive’ some of the stuff there might be. And after a year like 2020 (the after-effects of which we’re still all feeling), can you really blame people for wanting to have a good ol’ laugh?
Moderator Gaywallet told Bored Panda that they remove any content that's "edgy just go be edgy," bigoted, or offensive. Meanwhile, redditor Megatwins100 explained that, in their opinion, it's the moderation that sets the subreddit apart from others. According to them, the heart and soul of the "amazing community full of amazing people" is founder Siouxsie_siouxv2, as well as all the other active users.
"I believe that this subreddit would never be the same without her [the founder]. She knows how to grow a subreddit, and how to make one great. A few things that set this sub apart in the moderation category are the experimental things that happen here. A good example is that users can type '!spin' in the comments section to have a random event happen, anywhere from being banned to getting a position as moderator. On other subs, this wouldn't fly in the slightest. But on /r/HolUp, the mods are willing to take this risk to make it happen."
True Alpha Whale
One of the main points is to embrace the memes without judging them too harshly while also balancing this with proper moderation to ensure that everyone feels welcome, no matter their background. Moderator IndigoSoln explained that they try to avoid "mod-dictatorship" while keeping to Reddit's terms of services and following in the "proud tradition set forth by traditional meme subs like r/funny, r/Memes, and r/AdviceAnimals back in the day of not judging the content posted here too harshly."
User BlatantConservative pitched in, pointing out that there will always be someone offended by the jokes posted on the subreddit, just like anywhere else. "Being offended isn't a choice, it's a way of life. Those users can't help it."
'Reader's Digest' writes that a new study in the 'Cognitive Processing journal suggests that those who appreciate dark humor may have higher IQs, show lower aggression, and resist negative feelings much more effectively. At least, compared to those who scoff at dark humor and think it's a waste of their time and dignity.
According to the study, those who both understood and enjoyed dark jokes showed higher intelligence. Meanwhile, those who least liked dark humor were also the most aggressive and had the worst moods. This might be linked to the fact that laughter provides multiple health benefits. If you're able to laugh at negativity and during difficult times, you're more likely to feel better.
The subreddit’s moderators explain that their community is about shocking their viewers and bringing them out of their comfort box. “Holup! A feeling of shock and confusion. A reaction to an unexpected and often negative turn of events that starkly contrasts the situation's expected outcome. A storytelling element often employed in humor similar to ‘bait-and-switch,’” they explain, adding that it’s all for fun and that you shouldn’t take things too seriously.
Run Along Now Child Go Play
When you join r/HolUp, you get a message from Susan, the creator of the sub, sent via Reddit’s WelcomeBot. “Welcome to holup. One day you may look back at this time as the period when holup was ‘good’ and demand a change to make it good again. Sorry to inform you, the sub has never been that good, you're just new here.”
The founder continued: “That said, maybe the best thing about holup isn't necessarily the content, but the community. This sub is a sandbox for mods to try new ideas and we have weird things happening all the time. Plus my friend rjshwerin made a discord server that is actually good, unlike this sub. I'm kidding, there is good content here sometimes.” Susan explained that she’s open to any direct messages and will answer any questions or comments that you might have. They’re all a friendly crowd, so go and say ‘hi.’ The subreddit’s also open to suggestions on how to improve it. So don’t be shy if you’re brimming with ideas about improving the place and giving it a new coat of paint.
Which pics made you laugh out loud as though you were a teenager again, dear Readers? Did you enjoy the dark humor or did you think it went too far? Do you agree with the study’s findings that dark humor enthusiasts tend to be smarter and less aggressive? In your opinion, do you believe that we should be able to laugh at everything or do you think there should be some topics that are off-limits? Share your thoughts with everyone below.