From pants-less surprises to pets pushing their way past barriers to make their virtual debut, the last year has had its share of weird and funny Zoom meeting moments. Of course, Zoom meetings and video conference calls have been a thing for a while, but with quarantine and other stay-at-home measures that moved much of office life online, the last several months have served up some of the best and funniest viral videos and stories. Luckily, a laugh was often just what we needed during this pandemic in order to keep us semi-sane.
Many people have shared stories on social media about what happened to them while working from home or attending a class via Zoom. Some situations might make a person blush, while others are downright cringeworthy. Either way, it means there’s no shortage of funny anecdotes for our amusement.
As they say, comedy equals tragedy plus time, so even those occasions that caused a person a bit of stress and discomfort at the moment, may bring a little laughter later on. So for all those people that put themselves and their funny story or Zoom-of-doom clip out there…thanks for sharing! If the internet has taught us anything, virtual comedy comes in all shapes and sizes.
Of course we can’t write about them all below, so we’re picking a few of our favorites and trying to touch on the key categories when it comes to funny zoom-related fiascos and fails. We could fill the whole list with kooky cats alone, but to cover the spectrum of funny things one might see on a zoom or other video call, we’ve branched out a bit.
So here you are…Zoom meetings of the zany variety…
#1 Technical Difficulties
It took some of us a while to catch up to the new normal of quarantine times, whether it be maintaining concentration while working from home or just juggling all of the new Zoom, GoToMeeting, and House Party passwords. If you encountered some technical difficulties you are far from alone. In fact, some of these missteps might have provided virtual unintentional entertainment.
Take, for example, this early quarantine tweet from Rachel Clegg (@PettyClegg). In it, she explains, “my boss turned herself into a potato on our Microsoft teams meeting and can’t figure out how to turn the setting off, so she was just stuck like this the entire meeting.”
And it just got punnier from there. Her boss (@mlizetocampo) had a great attitude and offered her own response:
I yam potato boss. You should see me in a crown, right @billieeilish? I yam glad this is making folks laugh at this time. Please stay planted at home and safe! For more needed laughs, follow my favorite comedian @cristela9 . Potate out. #HASHtag #PotatoBoss
Cheers to being able to laugh at yourself, Ms. Ocampo. This spud’s for you!
While many people had issues with filters and backgrounds, some of the funniest interactions were simple misunderstandings about how close to put one’s face to the camera, and unwittingly sharing way too much information about one’s nostrils. A Zoom conference call with a less than tech-savvy team member can make everyone else on screen attempt to hide their amusement while trying to find the right way to help said team member out.
Saturday Night Live had one of the best sketches about this particular problem. When receptionists Henriette (Aidy Bryant) and Nan (Kate McKinnon) are on their first Zoom conference call for Sales Corp Industries, it doesn’t take long for things to devolve into a scene that has happened in real life for many of us.
Soon enough they’re using their computer cameras for close-ups and getting really confused for no particular reason. At some point we hear Henriette say, “I thought this computer only did solitaire.” Then Nan starts cry-whining and exclaims, “we ruined the Zoom!” That’s before things become even more weird and Henriette thinks it’s a good time for going to the bathroom. But before revealing all the ways they capture the conundrums of a Zoom call, here’s the clip:
Sketches like this are all in good fun, and we should remember to show a little grace for those getting the hang of the constantly evolving technology. Each generation does things a little differently. Some are so plugged in, they might try to scroll down on a piece of paper instead of turning the page, whereas other people can’t get in contact with the person from IT because they’re still struggling to set up their work email. This is a good reminder for businesses to develop some best practices around Zoom meetings and make sure everyone’s on board. Not everyone has the virtual skills to be an emcee for hire and entertain their way out of the awkwardness.
#2 Missed the Memo
Some problems that occur on a Zoom call aren’t necessarily unique to the online sphere. There are miscommunications whether people are working from home or showing up at the office. Sometimes those lines of communication are crossed and a certain someone doesn’t get the memo, so to speak.
That’s what happened to Allison Parc, founder and president of Brenne Whiskey. She was under the impression everyone was supposed to show up wearing crazy hats, and was just going along with the theme when she logged onto Zoom in her sparkly crown. She was a couple minutes late, so it became quite a grand entrance, especially because no one else was donning a headdress or hat of any sort.
Luckily, she says she was with a great group of women who actually insisted that she keep the crown on for the duration of the call. That’s the kind of support you want to see from friends and co-workers alike, isn’t it? Parc says that since her misunderstanding turned out to be a funny, happy accident, she now makes sure to have a pile of wigs and hats for virtual happy hours, but not necessarily for online work meetings.
We think she might want to reconsider. Far too often Zoom meetings are more mundane than need be, so why not sport a weird wig or bedazzled crown? These things can make a meeting more memorable, and isn’t that another important aspect of any gathering?
If people are talking about a meeting after days, weeks, or months have passed, they might also be more likely to remember the information that was exchanged. So why not use fun wigs or crazy costumes for work meetings? If you’re the one in charge at work, you can be the one to make it a thing.
#3 Pet Peeves in Zoom Meetings
An anonymous story was shared on the website ScaryMommy. If you’re not a fan of potty + pet humor, feel free to skip to the next one. Also, just a reminder to keep your pets with IBS far from your Zoom meetings or computer cameras any time you’re on a conference call.
Here it goes, so cover your eyes and plug your nose:
“My adult cat pooped on the dining room table…the same table the computer was set up on during a Zoom meeting with my son’s school speech pathologist” (*facepalm*)
#4 Zoom Meetings Were Made to Mute
There should be songs about the magical mystery mute button these days, since it always seems so elusive. Didn’t I have myself on mute? I thought I muted myself! Why was I not muted?! It’s a Zoom experience all too familiar to many of us. This next one could get you working to become even better at exercising those mute button muscles.
Again, we can head to Twitter for more mishaps with Zoom meetings, where Daniel Taroy (@danieltaroy) tweeted:
just started talking to my cat in the middle of a 68-person zoom meeting—and i wasn’t muted!!! send the meteor!!!!
That doesn’t necessarily sound so bad for a conference call, but he goes on to say:
to clarify, i said the words “no mama” to my cat and my colleagues : )))
Check out some of these other embarrassing stories that happened to folks during meetings online:
#5 Kids Zoom the Darnedest Things
We know just about everyone enjoys impromptu kid comments or funny moments caught on camera. These days you really don’t have to look too long to find a story about someone who forgot to mute themselves in a meeting and happened to have their child nearby with some words of wisdom to share.
Robert Knop (@FatherWithTwins on Twitter) would know first hand what it feels like to have a conference call interrupted by a family member. Things like this are bound to occur when we’re all trapped inside with the same folks for months on end, and you have to find the funny where you can. It’s best to let his comments on Twitter tell the story:
My kids just pounded on my office door yelling “FBI – open up!!!” when I was on a work call, so yeah, I’m totally looking forward to them going back to school in-person.
Lucky for his twins, it seems like he took it okay, and we can assume the people he works with weren’t too taken aback. He later tweeted:
Ya, I was [a] little upset, but deep down, I was like “that was a good one.”
When your child says something in the background and everyone in your work meeting can hear them it’s generally not that big of a deal. Others in your team will tend to understand these things, and we’re all adjusting to this new “virtual” normal. However, if more than one member of your family happened to burst into your office, and your Zoom meeting was actually an interview on the BBC…it might just become one of the most popular viral videos of the year.
Professor and political analyst Robert E. Kelly was being interviewed on BBC News because of his expertise in inter-Korean affairs. As he made his comments about a particular North Korean situation, a far more comical series of events unfolded on-screen behind him. Spoiler alert: I’m about to describe what’s on the video below, so if you’re one of the seven people in the world who hasn’t seen it yet, perhaps you want to watch before I describe it in detail.
What happened was his boisterous daughter (whose American name we now know is Marion), bursts on the scene with the kind of confidence and sass we all wish we had. Not to be outdone, the youngest member of the family (James) follows her in scooting himself forward in a little wheeled walker.
The funniest part might be when Prof. Kelly’s wife (Jung-a Kim) slides into the room like Tom Cruise in Risky Business (though far more frazzled) to save the day. She manages to get them out of the room, and crawls back in to close the door, almost as if to say “aaand scene” after one of the best physical comedy scenes ever seen on screen.
While it might have been the best and funniest BBC moment maybe ever, it wasn’t initially funny for the family. The couple came back on BBC to dispel a few rumors (yes, he was wearing trousers, and yes, the kids are just fine) and said how it was initially humiliating and worrisome – they wondered whether he’d ever be invited back on the program again. But after a bit of time they were able to see how this call came to delight so many people.
Even Ellen DeGeneres got in on the action. Of course with a funny cute kid moment, who can blame her? Here she is, breaking things down and doing a play by play:
Like Ellen said, “people who have kids can relate to this and people who don’t have kids can be reminded why they don’t.” I’ll just add that using a lock on the door for such occasions could lead to better results. But then again, just imagine what we’d have missed if little Marion hadn’t made her way right onto our screen and into our hearts. *Cue after-school special music*
While this last one wasn’t your typical Zoom meeting, we still think it counts as something funny that happened – and spread like wildfire – online.
May all your meetings be merry and bright…and remember to mute yourself!
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular virtual comedian, magician, and virtual speaker.