The Internet has many famous cats out there. But “talented” as Keyboard Cat, very few. This meme is based on a now legendary cat filmed in 1986 on a VHS. It features a female orange and white tabby named “Fatso” playing an upbeat tune on a keyboard while wearing a blue shirt. The meme symbolizes video fails.
How it started
The original video was shot in 1984 by performance artist Charlie Schmidt. He put on a blue shirt belonging to his son and manipulated the cat’s paws to make them look like he was playing the keyboard.
On June 7th, 2007, Schmidt uploaded the video to YouTube under the title “Cool Cat“. The video remained relatively unknown for two years. On February 2nd, 2009, YouTuber Brad O’Farrell acquired permission from Schmidt to use his video to make a mashup of a person falling off steps with a keyboard and Keyboard cat.
The title of this video was “Play him off, Keyboard Cat“. The idea was taken from a trope where bad performances were “given the hook”.
Spread of Keyboard Cat
The video quickly became viral. It has been removed from its original channel but reuploaded by many users. Many other users made their own mashups with the video. Basically, they are “fails” with Keyboard Cat “playing them off” at the end.
Schmidt created PlayHimOffKeyboardCat.com on April 6th, 2009 to collect videos and images of the cat. On May 5th, Ashton Kutcher shared a link of the video to his then 1 million followers on Twitter, helping rocket the popularity of Keyboard Cat.
Urlesque featured the video of Keyboard Cat on April 10th 2009. This was the first site to call it a meme. But this meme has been integrated into other memes.
Also, the popularity of the meme allowed the creation of merch that includes T-shirts and other products.
About the cat
The cat, as stated before, is an orange tabby belonging to Charlie Schmidt. The cat died in 1987.
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