Sockpuppet Theatre Turns Internet Drama Into High Comedy

Rose’s Team Pick:

Here on Autostraddle, we like to think we have a pretty good set of commenters. But if you’ve ever taken the time to read the comments on a typical YouTube video (might I ask, why?), you know how crazy the rest of the Internet can be. And while a lot of the time it just makes you want to weep for humanity, sometimes it can be pretty funny. What drives people to get into angry, slur-infested debates about religion in the comments of an innocuous cat video or pecan pie recipe? How is it that normally nice, polite people lose their marbles when behind a screen – and that those who do keep their wits about them spend hours trying to get the others to see sense? There’s a reason it’s so tempting to feed the trolls – because Internet flamewars can actually be kind of hilarious sometimes.

That’s the idea behind Sockpuppet Theatre, the latest project from April Winchell, founder of Regretsy, the blog documenting bizarre Etsy products that became an Internet sensation. When she’s not bringing you snarky commentary on necklaces made out of cat fur and Ronald McDonald menstrual pads, April is also a professional voice actor, giving life to such characters as Miss Finster on Recess and Cruella de Vil on the television series version of 101 Dalmations. Her new YouTube series actually allows Winchell to use her (considerable) professional talents – and those of her friends in the industry – to give voice to the many varieties of bizarre commenters you’ll find on the Internet. Each character is represented by a sockpuppet, as a play on the term for commenter alter egos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6IZzVjBxTQ

It’s hard to believe with some of the videos, but the scripts are adapted from actual comments on various websites – ranging from YouTube to LiveJournal to the World of Warcraft forums – with just minimal embellishment. But part of the reason that it seems so larger-than-life is that the characters are played by people who’ve made a living creating larger-than-life characters. Including Winchell herself, the cast features many big names in ’90s and early ’00s cartoons, such as Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner, Dr. Scratchandsniff and Pinky on Animaniacs), Billy West (Doug Funnie, half the characters on Futurama) and Pamela Adlon (Bobby Hill on King of the Hill, Spinelli from Recess).

Every puppet has been given their own personality, from Adlon’s frothing berserker in “Stop Killing Your Pets” to Paulsen’s mouth-breathing misogynist gamer dude in “Trolling 101” to Winchell’s self-righteous Mormon housewife in “Irresponsible Sluts.” Some of them even make repeat appearances (a testament to the repetitive archetypes you find among Internet trolls). All of them are hilarious, and if you’ve spent at least some time in your typical Internet comment section – and you know you have – you should find something to relate to and, more importantly, laugh at here.

And if even that doesn’t satisfy you, Winchell posts the threads that she couldn’t quite make into a video in the “Loose Threads” section. You can also submit the crazy comments you find and see if the team decides to make a video out of it!

Rose is a 25-year-old Detroit native currently living in Austin, TX, where she is working on her Ph.D. in musicology. Besides Autostraddle, she works as a streaming reviewer for Anime News Network.

Rose has written 69 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. Actual Comment: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

    Trying To Start A Flame-War Comment:
    OMG AUTOSTRADDLE WHY WOULD YOU POST THIS SHIT HERE IT IS NOT UP TO THE STANDARD OF YOUR WEBSITE OR THI ENTERNET IN GENERAL AND YOU SHOULD ALL DIE IN A FIRE AND CHEW ON SHIT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVE WHILE VOMITING BLOOD AND CATS. PLEASE ALL OF YOU HAVE YOUR REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS REMOVED SO THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS TO SUFFER FROM THE RESULTS OF YOUR OBVIOUSLY FLAWED GENERTICS. I AM ASHAMED TO LIVE IN THE SAME WORLD AS YOU. GOD HATES YOU. NO OFFENSE.

  2. This made my day! I’m going to imagine all the people on my car forums as sock puppets now screaming at each other. It should make the time go by faster while I try to dig through the threads looking for useful information 🙂

  3. These are super funny. I would love to see one adapted from an AS thread even if we’re not as bad as some sites. What about the Taylor Swift thread? Or people yelling about bisexuality?

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