Laughing to keep from crying: 9 funny memes from the fourth Democratic debate

By Joe Berkowitz

Sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from crying. (See: most of the last three years.)

Every now and then, the fuel for that laughter comes from the very politicians who are fighting against, or responsible for, what we’re crying about. Either these politicians are cracking jokes, which rarely ends well, or everybody else is cracking jokes at their expense. One of the more optimum opportunities for the latter is a presidential debate. These things always end up turning into Political Joke Thunderdome on Twitter, and last night was no exception.

Here are the best memes Fast Company noticed emerging from the fourth Democratic debate of this election, which saw a crowded stage of 12 candidates duke it out for viral supremacy.

Who is Tom Steyer?

Considering that at this point most people would prefer the Democratic field be winnowed down rather than inflated, a lot of viewers were unenthused about seeing a new face on stage. (And Keke Palmer recently gave them a perfect way to express as much.)

Joe Biden yelling at Elizabeth Warren

A lot of people ended up challenging Elizabeth Warren during last night’s debate (you better believe we’ll be seeing more in just a moment), but only one of them has an angry grandpa vibe in general and a history of pointing fingers in people’s faces.

People mocked Joe Biden’s explosive moment with references to a Will Ferrell SNL character . . .

And with references to the MRA reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi . . .

And of course with esoteric Simpsons references.

“Will you join me, Elizabeth?”

Kamala Harris and Tulsi Gabbard took turns trying to recruit Elizabeth Warren to a pair of positions they’d stated—deleting Trump’s Twitter account and calling for an “end to these regime change wars in Syria,” respectively, to no avail. People online had fun with these requests and with Warren’s utterly unfazed response.

Tulsi Gabbard is NOT a Russian asset

Of course, Tulsi Gabbard using the phrase “regime-change war” to describe the genocide in Syria struck some people as echoing Vladimir Putin’s language about what is currently happening in the region. This turn of phrase would have likely incited some blowback anyway, but it ironically came just moments after Gabbard, unprompted, declared that she is not, in fact, a Russian asset.

Beto is Cousin Greg from ‘Succession’

Maybe it was the fact that the Succession finale aired just two nights earlier. Maybe it was Beto O’Rourke’s apparent height advantage at certain moments during the debate. For whatever reason, a lot of people made the connection between the candidate and Nicholas Braun’s eternally put-upon beanpole from the show.

Klobuchar’s “Is this thing on?” moment

Amy Klobuchar dropped a number of zingers that didn’t exactly kill in the way that Warren’s Equality Town Hall joke did last week, and they were received accordingly online as well.

Biden’s gaffes tend to multiply ‘expodentially’

Because Joe Biden can’t seem to talk without saying at least one thing that makes his aides reach for Prilosec, at one point during the debate, the word “expodentially” was born.

Buttigieg vs Beto

When sparring broke out between Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke, a lot of onlookers realized they had some trouble telling the difference between these two similarly second-tier candidates.

The unlikely friend most likely

Ever since the Democratic debates began, viewers have been begging for more questions on substantive issues like climate change. So it was rather typical when the CNN/New York Times debate ended with a question about . . . last week’s Ellen DeGeneres mishegas. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked all the candidates who their most “unlikely friend” might be, and a lot of viewers—including whoever does Sam Bee’s social media—were clamoring for one pairing in particular.

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