A History Of Parody Twitter Accounts From 2010 To 2013

    Before there was @PharrellHat, there was @AngiesRightLeg.

    What was the parody Twitter account? Now that as a planet we've had eight years to crack jokes on Twitter, tweetable humor has evolved into a veritable creative medium of its own. Take @SeinfeldToday, which broadcasts imagined modern-day interactions between Jerry and co. to its 785,000 followers, or the absurdist craft-themed stutters of @PinterestFake. Modern parody Twitter accounts are also using humor to serve up running social commentary, such as @NoToFeminism, which hilariously satirizes the Women Against Feminism movement.

    But before Twitter accounts like Listen Up, Lady! and @BoredElonMusk proved that tweeted jokes could collectively provide for nuance, there was 2010 to 2013, also known as the Golden Era of One-Joke Twitter Parody Accounts. Back then, Twitter qua popular "second screen" medium was still fresh; every award show faux-pas and cringeworthy Mitt Romney moment sent people racing to their laptops to be the first to register @FiredBigBird. Often, it was worth it: a clever parody account could garner its own article on HuffPost, the Daily Beast or yes, BuzzFeed, or even net the author a book deal or an A-list media job. But just as often, the joke, and the author's dedication, succumbed to the brutal fate of time.

    Below, 15 of the most famous topical parody accounts, and some info about where they are now.

    1. Bronx Zoo Cobra

    Handle: @BronxZoosCobra

    Date of origin: March 2011

    Current followers: 171,000

    Still tweeting? Very regularly

    Real identity: Still resolutely unknown. (When BuzzFeed asked the "cobra" in an email if it wanted to reveal itself, it replied, "I'm Alex from Target.")

    New Yorkers let out a collective nervous laugh when the Bronx Zoo alerted the public in 2011 that its 20-inch-long Egyptian cobra had escaped from its cozy reptile house. In no time at all, a "cobra" popped up on Twitter and began live-tweeting the supposed adventures it found while slithering all over Manhattan.

    The snake was soon discovered not far from its original cage, but @BronxZoosCobra has remained one of the most active topical Twitter accounts of all time, tweeting breezy updates several times a month about current news events. BZC also has a regular column on a website called Paw Nation, in which she firmly stays in character. Either the author is somehow making bank from a parody Twitter presence, or is just devastatingly bored.

    2. Clint Eastwood's Chair

    Handle: @InvisibleObama

    Date of origin: Aug. 2012

    Current followers: 49,400

    Still tweeting?: Fairly regularly

    Real identity: Ian Schafer, CEO of New York digital marketing agency Deep Focus

    In his 2012 speech at the Republican National Convention, speaker Clint Eastwood famously made an ersatz President Obama out of an empty chair to his right. #Eastwooding, a meme that involved pointing at an empty chair, was soon born, as was @InvisibleObama, its Twitter counterpart. The Twitter account, which broadcasted a bunch of topical jokes, quickly skyrocketed to 50,000 followers.

    @InvisibleObama refused to identify itself in an August interview with Mashable, but NYC-based Ian Schafer soon claimed credit for the account in a September 2012 essay on BuzzFeed.

    "I’m going to keep going with this, even if I have to fend off haters," Schafer wrote. "I’ve found it to be not only therapeutic for me, but for thousands (nearly 70,000) of others. I never did it for the personal attention (believe it or not), but as an advertising guy, I’m OK with that attention." Indeed, @InvisibleObama still gamely tweets politically-minded things a couple times a month and still nets over 49,000 followers.

    3. Paul Ryan Gosling

    Handle: @PaulRyanGosling

    Date of origin: Aug. 2012

    Current followers: 49,200

    Still tweeting? Not since March 2014

    Real identity: PRG's Twitter page links to mouthyhousewives.com, a humorous advice site run by five women comedians. Mouthy Housewives claimed authorship of the account in an October 2012 blog post.

    "Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan" began as a Tumblr joke after photos of Ryan handling a fish with his bare hands inspired an internet frenzy. Ryan soon also appeared in a fitness photo shoot for Time magazine, which showed him pumping iron in a now-famous red baseball cap and gray tee. The @PaulRyanGosling account chugged along quite nicely, sending out a steady stream of sexy Republican bon mots until the joke, inevitably, went the way of the Romney/Ryan campaign.

    4. Angie's Right Leg

    Handle: @AngiesRightLeg

    Date of origin: Feb. 2012

    Current followers: 81 poor souls

    Still tweeting? Account is live, but all tweets erased as of Feb. 2013

    Real identity: BuzzFeed's Scott Lamb

    The 2012 Academy Awards were fairly banal — until Angelina Jolie showed up in a slinky black Versace dress, jutting out the Leg Seen 'Round The World. The viral buzz immediately kicked off on Twitter, with @AngiesRightLeg gaining 12,000 followers in a matter of hours. Memes like #Legbombing and #Joliening soon followed. As for the fate of @AngiesRightLeg? When BuzzFeed ceded the name, someone quickly parachuted in, but the account hasn't been touched in over a year.

    5. Laughing Joe Biden

    Handle: @LaughingJBiden

    Date of origin: Oct. 2012

    Current followers: 429

    Still tweeting? Not since Oct. 2012

    Real identity: haha who knows

    Joe Biden's extended chuckle in Paul Ryan's direction during the 2012 vice-presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Some called it rude; other seized the opportunity to create a smattering of Twitter accounts as tribute.

    According to Know Your Meme, one now-disabled account, @LaughinJoeBiden, gained over 8,000 followers by the end of the debate. Another major account, @LaughingJBiden, is still up on Twitter and is still followed by 429 people. Aww.

    6. Gowanus Dolphin


    Date of origin: Jan. 2013

    Current followers: Deactivated

    Real identity: In 2013, California poker player Shane Schleger outed himself as "the jerk behind @GowanusDolphin in a pensive blog post.

    In what might be the most insider-y media event of early 2013, Twitter attention revolved around a dolphin who'd regrettably gotten stuck in Brooklyn's toxic Gowanus Canal. As local news swarmed footage of the dolphin's fate, Shane Schleger quickly took to Twitter to claim @GowanusDolphin. The dolphin tweeted topical jokes and dodged a lot of internet ire, causing Schleger to delete the account. Sadly, the Gowanus Dolphin never made it out of the canal.

    7. Royal Fetus

    Handle: @RoyalFetus

    Date of origin: Reserved in April 2011

    Current followers: 11,600

    Still tweeting? Not since July 2013, when Prince George was born

    Real identity: UCB comedy writer Anne Victoria Clark

    Clark was smart to register the @RoyalFetus handle in April 2011, the month of Kate and Will's royal wedding. When Cambridge House announced the duchess' pregnancy in December 2012, Clark sprang to action, proclaiming in a tweet from the account, "I EXIST!!!" A number of other parody tweeters reared their heads, but @RoyalFetus remained the most popular, soaring to over 12,000 followers.

    The anointed fetus tweeted gamely until June 2013, when Prince George entered the world and when Clark decided to hang up the account for good.

    8. Sarcastic Mars Rover


    Date of origin: Aug. 2012

    Current followers: 123,000

    Still tweeting? Very regularly

    Real identity: Jason Filiatrault, a Canadian screenwriter

    NASA dispatched its Curiosity rover to the fourth planet in August 2012, and the stream of otherworldly images it sent back to earth captivated, well, the entire planet. But the earnestness was soon broken by @SarcasticRover, a parody account that tweeted in the voice of Curiosity about how crawling Mars by itself actually sucked.

    Even in 2014, it's still tweeting every day, and Sarcastic Rover also has its own Wordpress, where you can buy your very own SarcasticRover t-shirt.

    9. Edward Snowden's Empty Seat

    Handle: @SnowdensSeat

    Date of origin: June 2013

    Current followers:1,464

    Still tweeting? Sporadically

    Real identity: Unknown

    Media hit a fever pitch in June 2013 when NSA-leaker Edward Snowden, on the run from both the law and from breathless journalists, was rumored to have booked a seat on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Havana. Reporters on board were quick to tweet photos of Snowden's alleged seat, which remained empty after takeoff. Twitter responded, naturally, with a parody embodiment of seat 17A.

    The author tweeted snarkily at news outlets and spit out cheeky jokes about its Cuban vacation. Luckily, @SnowdensSeat cooled off, and it now publishes random topical references every now and then.

    10. Hologram Tupac

    Handle: @hologramtupac

    Date of origin: April 2012

    Current followers: 18,500

    Still tweeting?: Not since late April 2012

    Real identity: No idea

    A hologram version of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur took the stage at Coachella in 2012, stunning the world and whipping nerds into a frenzy about how the spector wasn't ~technically~ a hologram. Like all newsworthy stunts, Ghost Tupac soon yielded its own Twitter account, which tweeted maniacally for about a week before vanishing into thin air.

    11. Drunk Nate Silver

    Handle: @DrunkNateSilver

    Date of origin: Oct. 2012

    Current followers: A little over 2,000

    Still tweeting? Not since June 2013

    Real identity: Unknown

    In the hectic internet climate of pre-election 2012, "Drunk Nate Silver" began with an iconic Dan Levitan tweet and snowballed into a viral Twitter meme from there. Of course, someone quickly registered an eponymous account and tweeted out a bunch of ~hilarious~ made-up statistics, among other gems.

    Drunk Nate Silver still boasts over 2,000 followers, though it sobered up in June 2013 and never tweeted again.

    12. El Bloombito

    Handle: @ElBloombito

    Date of origin: Aug. 2011

    Current followers: 74,600

    Still tweeting? Not since April 2014, save for a pop-in to make an ebola joke in October

    Real identity: Rachel Figueroa-Levin

    Inwood resident Rachel Figueroa-Levin wasn't the first person to notice then-Mayor Bloomberg's less-than-bueno Spanish accent, but she was the first person to create an actually funny Twitter account poking fun at the mayor's español. El Bloombito started tweeting in the advance of Hurricane Sandy, when Bloomberg was appearing frequently on TV in press conferences during which he'd address the city in English and follow with a halting Spanish translation. When gems like "Los cans del trasho por favor to turn them back overo. Gracias" proved to be a big hit, media took notice of Figueroa-Levin's account, sending her to over 80,000 followers.

    Now that Bloomberg has handed the mayorship over to Bill de Blasio, El Bloombito has mostly shied away from the Twittersphere, although he pops in every now and then to make an ebola joke or two.

    13. BP Public Relations

    Handle: @BPGlobalPR

    Date of origin: May 2010

    Current followers: 131,000

    Still tweeting? Not since May 2012, except for a tweet on Oct. 27 announcing some sort of comeback

    Real identity: Josh Simpson, a Los Angeles comedian

    When BPGlobalPR started tweeting sarcastic missives in the wake of 2010's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, many people mistook the account for an actual affiliate of the oil giant. Either way, the account soon hit 180,000 followers.

    The account was the brainchild of Josh Simpson, a comedian who at the time went by the pseudonyms Leroy Stick and "Terry." Simpson later revealed himself in a September 2010 article on the Awl, saying he and 15 other people crafted the account's tweets.

    @BPGlobalPR fell mostly silent in 2012, and remained quiet until late October 2014, when it announced to its 131,000 followers that it was "ready to take on new clients."

    14. Mayor Emanuel

    Handle: @MayorEmanuel

    Date of origin: Sept. 2010

    Current followers: 46,500

    Still tweeting? Not since Feb. 2011

    Real identity: Chicago-based writer Dan Sinker

    The potty-mouthed @MayorEmanuel account satirized the brusque personality of the real former Obama chief of staff, and at one point, the Fake Mayor had more Twitter followers than Mr. Emanuel himself.

    The Atlantic finally convinced Sinker to out himself in a February 2011 article, and afterwards, @MayorEmanuel ceased tweeting. In September of that year, Sinker released a book related to the Twitter account titled The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel.

    15. AHurricaneSandy

    Handle: @AHurricaneSandy

    Date of origin: Oct. 2012

    Current followers: Deleted

    Real identity: Elijah Daniel

    At the time (i.e., the frenzied days leading up to U.S. arrival of Hurricane Sandy aka the Frankenstorm), this parody account seemed, to some, charmingly irreverent. But after Sandy left a tragic path of destruction in her wake, the tweets seemed a LOT more offensive, and the account was deleted at an unknown date.