Zoom cat, Jackie Weaver and viral video calls

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ANOTHER week, another Zoom video conferencing call goes viral. Hot on the heels of Jackie Weaver and the rambunctious antics of the Handforth Parish Council comes Texas lawyer Rod Ponton, who became an internet sensation after being unable to remove a novelty filter of a cat from his screen during a virtual court case. Who needs TV dramas and comedies when we have video call mishaps?

Technology is not without its perils?

Precisely. The fear is we are all only one meeting away from becoming a viral meme. One minute you are brainstorming ideas, the next you are aboard the internet’s crazy train after being dubbed the new Alan Partridge-meets-David Brent. Next stop: HR-ville.

Did that happen?

Not yet. But it can only be a matter of time. It is a bit like the TV programme Kids Say The Funniest Things. Except in this case, it is adults grappling with technology and finding their hilarious web woes immortalised forever.

It is a surprise no one has made a weekly compilation show yet. Elevator pitch: Zoom Calls Gone Bad … And Viral with Harry Hill as the zany narrator.

This isn’t new?

No, the king and pioneer of viral video calls is Professor Robert Kelly, now better known as “BBC Dad”, who was doing a live interview about South Korean politics in 2017 when his then four-year-old daughter Marion sauntered into the room.

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She was swiftly followed by Professor Kelly’s toddler son James in a baby walker, then his wife Jung-a Kim skidding through the door, frantically trying to herd said children back out again.

Marion’s unscheduled arrival, elbows out at jaunty angles and looking cute as a button in a bright yellow jumper, was a lesson to us all in how to make a bold and memorable entrance. She should have her own Ted Talk.

What are the rules?

Basically, viral video calls have to be something that makes the rest of us laugh until our stomachs hurt, while thinking, “There but for the grace of God, go I …”

And there needs to be a catchphrase.

Did you say catchphrase?

Correct. Handforth Parish Council had: “You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver”, while Rod Ponton will be remembered for the unintentional quip: “I’m here live, I’m not a cat”.

A Zoom cat-up instead of catch-up?

I’ll do the jokes. Thank you.

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How is Mr Ponton handling his fame?

Taking it in his stride. “I did not know that Zoom could turn me into a cat, and I did not know that a cat Zoom could turn me into an internet celebrity,” he told the BBC.

Who’s next?

It could be any of us. Watch this space. Gulp.

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