Here’s a funny joke:
Someone you’ve heard of is dead.
Oh shoot, really?
No. Just kidding.
That’s the premise behind the hilarious new strain of death hoax jokes cropping up online, implicating a diverse array of people you have heard of but don’t think about too much, which is what makes it believable, from Sylvester Stallone a few months back, to more recent reports of Bill Cosby, Bill Nye, Eddie Murphy, and Rihanna’s humorous trips into the great beyond to
descend into eternal nothingness meet their maker.
Cosby had to explain that he wasn’t dead himself, something he’s probably accustomed to every time his wife sees him napping on the couch:
“Emotional friends have called about this misinformation,” Cosby explained on Twitter. “To the people behind the foolishness, I’m not sure you see how upsetting this is.”
You could say the same about much of Cosby’s material in recent years too, but I get his point.
Of course the concept of premature death notices is nothing new. Mark Twain famously said that the early reports of his death were exaggerated. Paul McCartney pulled a super beta internet prank around the time of Sgt. Pepper’s when he trolled n00bs into thinking he was dead. Tupac, too, pulled off a brilliant, years-long prank convincing us all he was dead. But this feels like something particularly contemporary — it’s the perfect mix of pointless antagonism, blatant disregard for others’ humanity, and meanness without being funny. It’s the collected wisdom of the internet in a nutshell. I think we can finally declare this death hoax thing dead, although maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Then again, they are all dead in the sense that all of us are essentially walking corpses, we just don’t know it yet. Anyway, enjoy the internet today.