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Ode to the FAHns: memes

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

Raquel Roxo Couto Creates Brilliant FAH Memes

I joined the FAH, Family Facebook page on July 29, 2020 (there are 7800 people in the group at this point) . It was good to know that there was a group devoted to all the FAH fahns out there and it was on this same day that I saw my first Raquel post, which was not a meme but her genuine appreciation of a FAH sketch that is near and dear to my heart, Border Control, and about which I had already written a lengthy blog post. We connected over our shared love of this sketch and I would soon learn that Raquel's gift in the group was and is creating the most brilliant, incredibly funny memes using FAH's sketches. She has agreed to be the guest artist for the second installment of the Ode to the FAHns series, and I'm really grateful to her for allowing me to showcase her amazing artistry. She has an uncanny knack for humor and also for choosing the best images from FAH's sketches to capture meaning and hilarity.

The first meme in this post is one of my absolute favorites of hers. Raquel took the image from FAH's Tea Addiction video (September 27, 2018) and added a tag line to one of the key scenes in this hysterically funny sketch to give us a brand new meaning to this moment. Like so many of her memes, it is simple but has so much emotional content and power in the way she has paired her tagline with this particular shot. Hog and Arms look exactly like babies in that peekaboo moment; I would hope most of us know what this is like, but even if someone has never been around children or even played this game, it is entirely possible to get the gist of what Raquel's intent is here with her humor. Her memes are uncomplicated and straightforward and they are always funny in their powerful and insightful humorous art. I laugh every time I see this particular meme; it really makes me happy!

Raquel tells me that she is from Portugal and that her middle name, Roxo, means "purple." She just "started an aerospace engineering course" and she explains: "as soon as I can, I want to go to Ireland and watch my first live FAH show!" She told me: "I think laughter is one of the best medicines, alongside love and being heard." And I think anyone seeing her work would agree that laughter is very important in all our lives right now! She is very modest about her work and her abilities, but I think she needs more attention and so here we are for this blog post!

Please read on for the interview with Raquel about her creative process, meme artistry, and what she thinks of her own work.

When did you discover FAH?

My mom had sent me some years back one of their first viral sketches - An Englishman Plays Risk [October 5, 2017] - and I found it clever and funny, but didn't pay much attention to it at first, because I've never been one to spend much time exploring YouTube. It wasn't until I spent some time alone during Easter vacation this year [2020] that I really dedicated some time to watching their sketches! I was staying at my grandmother's, and while I ate, did the dishes or before sleeping I'd diligently search for any sketch I hadn't yet seen. They felt like friends in a time I needed it most. Little did I know so would the FAHn family.

What attracted you to FAH's humor?

Foil Arms and Hog remind me with each sketch how unbelievably brilliant they are, and although that may seem rather exaggerated to people who have watched a sketch or two and find them amusing, I often feel that is an understatement: can you imagine, year after year, every Thursday sharing with us a video that takes who know how many days or weeks to prepare, film and edit, and not even once degrading in content? They are clever, sharp, hilarious, and one of my personal favorite characteristics of theirs is that, through their videos, you can tell they are genuine: that is who they are, they leave bits of themselves in each character and story, and their art is so much better for it. Besides that, I love the (not so) subtle criticism they often make through their videos - after all, they are artists.

Had you ever done any memes before you joined the FAH, Family Facebook page?

Humor, jokes, puns and (to a certain level) pranks are somewhat of a family trait. With time and practice on my innocent friends, my jokes went from cheesy to ridiculous and my puns from bad to painful (I guess you could say PUNful), which, as someone who wants to make others laugh, is kind of the point. Therefore, I'd always been fond of memes and such. I had made some but only in certain environments, such as inside jokes with friends or using funny photos of relatives to express a certain feeling, but never anything "official", so to speak, that you'd think of me as a meme maker.

Why did you start to do FAH memes?

I'd thought about starting meme pages on all sorts of topics before, but never got around to it, for whatever reason. I didn't really have somewhere to start or a topic to focus on.

Obviously, lockdown cleared my schedule to an impressive level, and one day, upon my routine scrolling through Facebook, I found the FAHn group and asked to join - this having happened after I binged almost every one of their videos. After being accepted, and once I realized a lot of people thought Foil Arms and Hog were the administrators behind the group, I thought something along the lines of: "maybe if we start using this page for something else, we can let them know this is more a group of people with FAH as a common interest!". On top of that, I really wanted to make inside jokes about FAH but no one I knew had the same trivia on their sketches to actually get them - so I took the chance to meme on.

Raquel explains that "These 3 might be my top favorite memes - all from the same sketch, funnily enough! I love them because of how ridiculous the frames are, and especially if you know the context in which they show up it makes the memes so much better!"

The sketch that Raquel pulled the following images from for her memes is: Witness Protection Pitch Fail (March 24, 2016).

What do you look for in FAH sketches to put your memes together?

To be honest, my humor is more circumstantial. That means I'm not that good at anecdotes or planned jokes; it's usually wordplay, connecting different and often ironic events in a funny way, sarcasm, or imagining what would a certain phrase, attitude or gesture sound or look like out of context. That being said, to make the memes, I'd either re-watch some videos, try to abstract from them and think outside of their original meaning, or (not so frequently) I'd go look for a specific quote or frame from one of their sketches that matched something I'd think of.

What in the sketch inspires you or makes you laugh?

FAH's videos are full of wonderful content that is comedy gold on its own: it's not hard to find bits or even just parts of the frame filled with potential to make others laugh. It's a two-edged sword because I never feel my memes do justice to the sketches they came from. Their facial expressions, certain scenario settings and, once again, out of context lines are, in my opinion, the easiest details to pick and play with to find a way to make someone laugh.

Do you choose the image before you have a tag line?

The process is usually scanning the sketches for potential jokes and then, once the lightbulb's on, writing the tagline, but it really depends on the meme and my inspiration.

How do you decide what is going to be funny for an audience?

Although I have my own taste and know what I find amusing, one of my favorite things about making people laugh or even just giggle, is getting their positive feedback, to make their day a bit brighter - so I try to create memes as fan-friendly as possible. But then again, the people I share them with find FAH as funny as I do, so most of the time it's not too hard to decide what will cause a smile. This means it's a balance between my personal touch, what people can relate to, FAH trivia or even references to their sketches, and overall what may lead the audience to interact with each other.

Raquel explains that: "The following three [sketches] are perfect examples of how [FAH's] expressiveness is such a good opportunity for memes, and I really liked these memes because they are relatable and they convey some emotions that are hard to otherwise put into writing."

Putting up with Granny (November 14, 2019)

15 Habits of the Mega Rich (March 2, 2017)

A Party with the Months of the Year (January 9, 2020)

Have you ever posted your memes anywhere else besides FAH, family Facebook?

I've showed them to my parents and sister, and I thought of starting an independent meme page but never got around to it - then came university and with it the busy schedule COVID has taken.

What was the audience reaction to your memes on FAH, family Facebook? Or elsewhere?

I believe people generally liked [them] - there was a more assiduous crowd, but with a group of FAHns spread so wide around the globe, even the time I post the memes influences how many and which people I can reach. Over time I started to notice patterns in what tended to get the higher interest and what made people feel seen the most, and so I adapted. The sweetest part of it all was, through what I thought would be an inconsequential series of memes, I ended up finding very interesting people who saw and heard me and appreciated my "art". I had never even thought of it as art!

Raquel explains, "these last two [memes] are also some of my favorites because they are stand-alone good frames; without any context you can understand exactly what the meme is trying to share!"

Samaritans (October 31, 2013)

Staycation with Your Parents (August 20, 2020)

Has FAH ever seen your work? If so, what was their reaction?

As far as I know, they are aware that the [Facebook] group exists, but I don't know if they ever saw any of my memes. Truth be told, I'd love to know their opinion, but where I come from there's an expression that describes how it would feel like: "I'd be a donkey staring at a palace!" They are monumental when it comes to comedy and I feel very small compared to them.

Is there anything else you want to explain about your creative process in putting your FAH memes together?

I think I've covered the essentials! The only thing left is that making these memes was always a good excuse to revisit some of my favorite sketches!

And so we have come to the end of the wonderful interview with Raquel Roxo Couto and her beautiful meme work. I wanted to include one more of my favorites that she posted to the FAH, family Facebook group on September 11, 2020 because I think it embodies what she is talking about here in terms of her process and how she chooses to put together a meme. This meme relies on the simplicity of Arms's facial expression to say so much about the tagline that Raquel has created. We need no other words or explanations because she has perfectly captured a universal sentiment that so many people experienced during this pandemic. Raquel offers us a way to enjoy FAH in a new way through her creative memes and skilled, interesting humor.

When Your Dad is a Social Influencer (October 23, 2019)

Thank you to Raquel for her willingness to participate in the Ode to the FAHns series! Join the FAH, Family Facebook page to see more of Raquel's work, to meet other fahns and enjoy the creative material that is regularly added to the group's page.

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