15 Projects That Started as a Joke and Ended Up Successfully
Twentieth century advertising executive David Ogilvy was once quoted as
saying that the very best ideas will initially come as jokes, so he taught
others that the key to success was simply to make their thinking as funny as
possible. This basic principle has been proven true in more ways over the past
century than most people would like to admit. Even though there are many great
ideas that have been taken seriously from the very beginning that eventually
achieved a high level of success, there has also been quite a few ideas that
simply were either created to be jokes and mockeries or were initially joked and
mocked by others that still became very successful.
Some of these projects are easy to identify as being originally based on
jokes. On the other hand, others may appear to have been based solely on pure
genius. Regardless of whether or not the many people behind these various
projects intended for their work to be taken seriously clearly did not have an
impact on the overall success that was achieved once their projects had been
released to the public.
15) The Blues Brothers
Since the hit NBC variety show, "Saturday Night Live," first debuted in America
back in the 1970s, there have been thousands of different sketches and skits
that have been developed and aired through their broadcasts. Without a doubt, there have been many sketches that have been
able to make millions of people laugh even years after they aired on this show
for the first time. However, very few sketches have been able to reach the point
of long-term success as the musical sketch that is now known for creating the
rhythm and blues revivalist band known as The Blues Brothers.
Comedic actors John Belushi and Dan Akroyd were able to take a break away
from the improvisational acts that they had become known for on the show and
expose the world to their musical talents instead. Dan Akroyd introduced John
Belushi to blues music in the early-1970s and the two began to perform together
as The Blues Brothers at a local blues bar that Dan rented out shortly after he
joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Their act developed over the years and the duo made their television debut
during the January 17, 1976 episode, according to SNLtranscripts.jt.org. As soon
as the musical sketch started, many of the viewers at home as well as the
audience members in the studio were prepared to laugh hysterically, especially
after seeing the two actors that were going to be involved. Instead of laughing
at them, however, millions of people started to dance and groove along with them
instead. The success of The Blues Brothers continued to grow over time through
more musical sketches, two hit movies, an animated series, a video game and a
national revival tour.
14) "Naked Came the Stranger"
There have been many different authors over the
years that aspired to mock different literary works that were popular at the
time as a way of showing just how easy it was to create something that was
commercially successful but of very poor quality. A prime example of this is the
project that was started by Mike McGrady back in the 1960s when he was
determined to prove that any book that was filled with sex would sell,
regardless of just how explicit or vulgar the content was within the pages of
that book. He put together a team of over 20 people, including Pulitzer Prize
winners and professional journalists, to help create a published spoof to prove
his theory, according to the Washington Post.
The end result was the book titled, "Naked Came the Stranger." This novel
about a woman who seeks revenge on her cheating husband by having sex with many
other men in their neighborhood, was intentionally filled with as much vulgar
and explicit content as possible. Within only a few months after being released
in 1969, the book became a bestseller, according to the New York Times. Even
after the team of authors decided to expose themselves and their original
intentions, the popularity of the book only increased. They were even asked to
write a sequel, but instead wrote a book the following year about the actual
13) "Angry Birds"
With the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets
also come the successful increase of applications that could be used and games
that could be played on these devices. The most successful games are the ones
that have been able to captivate the attention of adults and children alike,
such as the international hit known as "Angry Birds." Since the game was first
released on the Apple iOS back in late 2009, it quickly became an overnight
success that spread throughout the world like an epidemic outbreak.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rovio, the Finnish game studio that
developed this game, stated that the original concept of "Angry Birds" was
actually based on a funny screenshot. His design team had already prepared
several well-developed proposals about new game ideas that the studio intended
on pursuing at the time, according to PC World. However, a simple screenshot of
an angry bird trudging on the ground seemed to strike a chord with the team and
they decided to develop that concept even further into the game that over tens
of millions of people have downloaded worldwide in less than four years. The
success of "Angry Birds" has escalated far beyond mobile technology, being made
into storybooks, various forms of merchandise, an animated series and an
upcoming 3D movie, according to FoxNews.com.
12) Wile E. Coyote and the Road
Since the late 1940s, millions
of people have been thoroughly entertained by the determined Wile E. Coyote as
he has been trying everything in his power to finally catch the highly
intelligent Road Runner. Even though this particular series of animated cartoons
was originally created for children, adults were also captivated by this
never-ending chase. Countless hours have been spent watching Wile E. execute his
numerous failed attempts to catch The Road Runner that seemed to slip right
through his fingers time and time again.
What many people do not realize about this particular animated series is that
it was actually developed as a joke and mockery of the popular cartoon series,
"Tom and Jerry," which was also based on a never-ending chase between a predator
and their prey. The key difference was that Chuck Jones wanted to see just how
far he could take it by making the chase sequences between Wile E. Coyote and
the Road Runner absurd and extremely violent in comparison to the witty,
slapstick comedy used with "Tom and Jerry," according to The TV Critic. The
mockery quickly grew into an international hit, completely changing chase
sequences in cartoons forever, according to the New York Times.
11) "Sweet Child O' Mine"
The average Guns N' Roses fan will not hesitate to
say that "Sweet Child O' Mine" is one of their favorite songs from this
particular band. Shortly after it was released in 1988 as the third single from
their debut studio album, "Sweet Child O' Mine" quickly topped the US Hot 100
chart for the first and only time, according to Billboard Magazine. The song has
been covered by many other artists over the years and has been sampled in a
variety of different television shows and movie soundtracks, according to thefreelibrary.com. However, not many people know that this song was actually
never even supposed to be taken seriously in the first place.
By Julioorbegozo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
The famous guitar riff that sets that stage for the song was actually just a
riff that guitarist Slash was using to practice a string skipping exercise. He
was not struck by any type of momentary genius where the notes and rhythm just
came to him as many people might think. He was just using this string skipping
exercise to practice and have a little fun with his band mates in an impromptu
jam session. As soon as lead vocalist Axl Rose heard the riff, however, he
immediately told Slash that it was going to be used for their next song.
By Rockman (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
though Slash strongly disagreed at first with this decision, the song was
written in less than five minutes and eventually grew into the international hit
that many people still sing today.
10) Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al Yankovic is widely known for being able to turn
an abundance of musical parodies and spoofs into a length career that began over
30 years ago. Even though he did not even take himself seriously back in the
mid-1970s when he began sharing his different parody songs with the world, the
success that he has been able to achieve in the years since then is definitely
not something that can be easily laughed at or taken lightly by any means.
Weird Al's first single, "My Bologna," was a parody of the hit song, "My
Sharona" by The Knack. He followed that up with "Another One Rides the Bus",
which was a parody of the Queen hit, "Another One Bites the Dust" and was
recorded live on the show of the popular 1970s radio personality that helped
Weird Al become famous, Dr. Demento, according to liner notes published by Dr.
Demento in September of 1994. Since then, this 3-time Grammy Award winner has
released 22 albums, including 13 studio albums, three EPs and six compilation
albums, according to Rolling Stone.
9) Text Messaging
When cell phones first started to become popular in the
1990s, many people were still getting used to talking on cordless phones inside
of their home much less being able to take a cordless, portable phone with them
while they were out and about each day. Over time, however, being able to talk
to people on these mobile devices became rather easy to do for people of all
ages. However, something else happened in the mid-1990s that changed the way
people communicated with each other even further.
Text messaging was introduced as an optional mobile service that allowed
people to communicate with others without having to verbally speak a single
sound, according to Routomessaging.com. Even though the overall concept of
typing messages to each other on a cell phone may have seemed to be a hilarious
joke and pipe dream in the early 1990s, it quickly evolved into one of the most
popular forms of mobile communication available on the market.
Before most cell phone providers began offering text messaging services for
free to remain competitive, these companies were able to make a substantial
amount of money each year solely from customer-paid subscriptions for this
optional service. Having to communicate in less than 160 characters eventually
led to the creation of such abbreviated phrases and acronyms as "laugh out loud"
(LOL), "Oh My God" (OMG), "Talk To You Later" (TTYL) and "Shaking My Head"
(SMH), according to the Los Angeles Times. Most of these familiar terms are even
currently being used in verbal conversations as well, which is something that
surely would have been laughed at and mocked 20 years ago.
8) Karaoke Singing
The overall concept of karaoke singing is based on a joke
and just having fun performing either in front of strangers at a bar or close
friends and family members. However, when karaoke was first invented many years
ago, no one could have ever imagined that it would achieve such a high degree of
international success as it has today.
Many people thought that Japanese musician and singer Daisuke Inoue was
foolish to even consider investing in his invention of the karaoke machine in
the early 1970s, according to events-in-music.com. However, in a very short
period of time, karaoke became a very popular form of entertainment used in
hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and at social events and functions held
around the world.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on karaoke machines,
microphones and music on a global scale. There have even been quite a few
televised karaoke competitions and annual tournaments that have been held around
the world as well. This revolutionary type of entertainment has been able to
evolve from karaoke machines into record albums, applications for mobile
devices, software packages for computers and even video games, according to the
New York Times.
There are even world records that have been set within the past
decade that deal directly with karaoke. For example, according to the Guinness
Book of World Records, the current record for the longest Karaoke marathon
consisting of multiple participants is held by the country of Hungary which held
their record-setting event between July 20 and August 31 of 2011, lasting a
little longer than 1,011 hours.
Right up until the late 1990s, millions of people flocked to local
music stores around the world each week to purchase their favorite singles and
newly released albums. Even with the rising prices of these CDs and cassettes,
billions of dollars was still being spent each year by consumers. That is, of
course, until three friends decided that they were going to do their part to
change things and make history. In the beginning stages, co-creator Sean Parker
and his two partners simply just wanted to develop a fun way to share files with
other people using the internet. The overall concept of this technology being
used to download music and movies may have seemed like a funny joke at first,
but quickly became a reality once this technology was developed, according to
the New York Times.
For almost two years, between 1999 and 2001, millions of people used Napster
to get all of the music, movies, software and other files that they needed
directly from the internet without having to pay a dime. Even though an
abundance of court orders and lawsuits caused Napster to completely shut down in
2001, the accomplished efforts of Sean Parker and his two partners left a
lasting impact on the digital age, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Torrent sites and other peer-to-peer file sharing websites began to quickly
emerge seemingly overnight. Apple developed a legitimate way of purchasing and
downloading music through their own revolutionary program called iTunes.
However, the first pebble that was thrown into the lake of media purchasing and
distribution that caused a significant ripple effect was Napster without a
6) Online Dating
Many people were completely shocked and excited by the
concept of the Internet back in the 1990s when it first became popular on a
global scale. Excitement levels seem to only grow faster and further after chat
rooms were developed and instant messenger programs began to be used to
communicate with friends, relatives and even complete strangers around the globe
simply by using a computer. However, one of the biggest ideas that seemed more
like a hilarious punch-line to a comical joke than an actual possibility was the
concept of online dating.
When the first online dating service, Match.com, was launched back in 1995,
there were more people laughing at founder Gary Kremen and anyone else
associated with that company than there were people that were actually signing
up to use their services. The idea of being able to meet someone and have a
serious relationship without having to go through the traditional means of
physical, verbal contact seemed to be completely unrealistic but very funny. For
many years, stand-up comedians and late night television hosts used online
dating services as the butt of their jokes.
Time has drastically changed over the past 20 years and the overall outlook
on internet dating has changed right along with it. The overwhelming popularity
and success achieved by Match.com caused many other dating websites and online
dating services to be developed and promoted over time. A recent study confirms
that close to $1 billion in revenue was made by online dating services in 2008
alone, according to Computer World Blogs. When Match.com set the record for
being the largest internet dating service in the world, they had 42 million
members and that was back in 2004, according to the Guinness Book of World
5) Online Media Streaming
Twenty years ago, the term "streaming" was
primarily used to describe the flow of water in rivers and lakes around the
world. The basic concept of streaming media through the internet was something
else that placed in the category of unrealistic pipe dreams that would only be
found in futuristic, science fiction movies. When the popular website Hulu was
first created back in 2007, millions of people became instantly captivated just
by the idea of being able to watch a wide variety of movies and old television
show episodes directly on their computers, according to TheStreet.com.
Since the very moment when this type of streaming was first introduced, there
have been several other websites that have joined in and provided these services
for their own customers through free memberships and paid subscriptions.
Advancements in technology have also been made that allow millions of people to
enjoy streaming media through other devices besides their computers, including
high-definition televisions, smartphones, mobile tablets, Blu-ray and DVD
players as well as popular video gaming consoles, according to the New York
4) Viral Videos
Back in the late 1990s, if the average person made the
statement that they wanted to "go viral," most people would quickly reach for
the hand sanitizer and do whatever they could to stay away from that individual.
However, since the popular video streaming website YouTube was launched back in
2005, that phrase has acquired an entirely new meaning, according to USA Today.
Millions of people worldwide strive to "go viral" with their online videos each
year, eagerly watching the number of total views accumulated with hopes of
eventually reaching six and seven figures.
Some of the biggest overnight success stories that have been created from
viral videos were made by people that simply were having fun and catching a
hilarious and entertaining moment of their lives on camera, according to PC Mag.
Quite a few of the celebrities that are enjoying their 15-minutes of fame
currently started their journeys towards achieving success by uploading a video
to YouTube or any other popular media streaming website, including teenage
superstar Justin Bieber.
3) Social Networking Websites
Another facet of the information superhighway
that many people initially laughed when it was first launched is social
networking. As mentioned earlier, people were already excited and impressed by
the revolutionary changes that were being made to the computer and internet
throughout the 1990s as time crossed over into the 21st century.
When Facebook and MySpace were first developed, however, many people once
again thought that they were just temporary fads that would be laughed about for
many years after they were ever heard from again, according to Venture Beat.
While MySpace did seem to reach its end a little sooner than many past members
expected, Facebook has drastically changed the way that millions of people and
thousands of business communicate on a global scale, according to Business
Insider. Back in the late 1990s, the average computer user strived to keep all
of their private information to themselves, using alternative nicknames as User
IDs and log-in profiles. Nowadays, it is easy to find out just about everything
about a person from reading the posts and viewing the pictures that are
published on their Facebook pages.
The popularity of Facebook made room for the development of other social
networking websites, such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. These
websites and online applications can be accessed on computers and also mobile
devices, including tablets and smartphones.
2) Smart Cars
A large number of people consider one of the funniest parts of
a traditional circus to be the moment when the clowns drive out in their tiny
clown car. Seeing grown men and women driving around in those tiny automobiles
can sometimes be even more hilarious than the different tricks and slapstick
comedy acts that they perform after they get out of the car.
When the initial designs and developed concepts of smart cars were first
released back in the mid-1980s, there were very few people that were able to
consider themselves ever actually driving one of them. Most people just
considered them as being practical jokes that were being distributed for comic
relief rather than potential development in the future.
via Wikimedia Commons
However, the general reaction and response from the public seemed to change
drastically after Daimler-Benz released the very first smart car in 1998,
according to the Mercedes Lounge. More and more people invested into these
automobiles as time moved forward into the 21st century. Most automobile critics
and satisfied customers praised these types of automobiles primarily for their
fuel efficiency and revolutionary design, achieving high passing scores on all
crash and safety tests that were conducted, according to CBS News. Even though
smart cars may look like clown cars, there are more people today that love them
than there are that are laughing at them.
As if cell phones were not revolutionary enough, smartphones
seemed to pick up right where the traditional, standard cell phone left off.
There are just so many different things that can be done with these devices that
would have usually required multiple devices to accomplish in the past,
according to ZDNet.
via Wikimedia Commons
When these phones were first developed, many people laughed at the idea of
them being able to have many of the same functions that are currently present in
digital cameras, media players, camcorder, eBook readers, high-tech computer and
also telephones. However, according to Mashable.com, the standard smartphone is
able to take pictures, record videos, read eBooks, play songs, watch movies, and
access the Internet along with a host of online applications and games in
addition to the ordinary functions of a telephone.
Thousands of people around the world strive each day to come up with the next
"big" idea or concept that is going to achieve worldwide success and earn them
millions of dollars along the way. Some of these ambitious people will
eventually achieve their goal, but the vast majority of them will not. If you
take a moment to focus on all of the projects that ended up being successful,
many of them started off as either jokes or parodies of something else that was
already established or involved a new, creative spin on an original idea or
concept. For example, the smartphone is nothing more than an enhanced
improvement of the traditional cell phone. Look at all of the different
inventions and developments that have originated from within the internet that
have also become successful. The key is to follow those quoted words from David
Ogilvy mentioned earlier and find a fun and exciting way to improve, enhance or
change something that is already being used today. Even though it may be laughed
at and mocked now, it could very well be praised and applauded later.
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