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Twitter has been taken over recently by a very particular visual pun based on the 1986 Bon Jovi hit “Livin’ on a Prayer,” beloved for its wub-wub verses and whoa-oh refrain. Want to know how it works? We’ll give it a shot.
The meme starts with the first part of the chorus: “Whoa, we’re halfway there! Whoa-OH …”
But instead of “livin’ on a prayer,” there’s a photo of something that rhymes with it and has the same cadence. A lemon on a pear is easily the most popular version:
But there’s also wizard at a fair:
Lipstick on a pear:
Piven on a bear:
And Liv in underwear:
And there’s this:
The joke format isn’t entirely new. “Chicken on a bear,” in the tradition of Animals Riding Animals, was done more than a month ago on imgur:
And here’s an entire sketch, circa 2012, based on “Sittin’ on a Bear.”
But the Twitter iteration of the joke is new, seemingly starting with this “lizard on a chair” tweet from Periwinkle Jones (whose Twitter bio now reads “stop sending me variations of that lizard on a chair joke.”)
It’s a cousin to the “roses are red” meme, where an image (usually a headline or YouTube video title) completes the old poem, but it’s slightly harder to pull off. A “lizard on a chair” punchline is entirely visual and relies on the viewer to suss out the pun, making it both higher-risk and higher-reward.
Just realize that it also offers a smaller rhyme and meter space to work with, and the good ones have mostly been done at this point. This meme is good, but it’s already halfway over.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.