John Hargraves has been updating his site zug.com
weekly since 1995, one of the first comedy websites
that is still in existence. Best known for his pranks,
he also had his own show on Tech TV in the US. Here
he recalls the early days of the web.
Back in the dark days before e-mail and search engines,
only NASA scientists named Floyd were using the web,
which consisted of a bunch of old coffee cans tied together
by a massive network of strings. We had to program our
websites with 'punchcards' and play video games in raw
When I started zug.com
in 1995, there were no big media companies doing business
on the web no Comedy Central, AOL Time Warner or BBC.co.uk.
Most of the humour consisted of 'techie jokes' written
by lonely computer programmers, like this wildly hilarious
Q: What does IBM stand for?
A: I Blame Microsoft.
Ha ha! Get it? Me neither.
Even so, there were a few diamonds in the rough, a
handful of sites that were truly funny. Here were a
few of my favourites.
and Jake's Adventures. This was one of the first
sites to use the 'new comedy medium' by experimenting
with hyperlinks and interactivity. It was rudimentary
by today's standards, lovingly put together by two goofy
MIT students. You will either love it or hate it, but
I lost control of my bladder the first time I read it.
Worst of the Web. As the unwashed masses began
flooding the internet with embarrassingly amateurish
websites, David Mirsky began posting this daily skewering
of the worst. His one-sentence comments were acidic,
addictive, and insanely funny. He shut down the site
at the height of his popularity, leaving a sharply disappointed
Links From the Underground. Justin Hall is a godfather
of the early web days his daily site is still going
strong, receiving 200,000 pageviews monthly. One of
his funniest pranks was the true story of how he duped
conservative American politician Oliver North into autographing
his marijuana pipe (www.links.net/vita/speak/ollie/)
Early on, site creator Steve Kremer understood that
the web was a new medium, so he began creating free
comedy graphics that users could convert to desktop
wallpaper for Windows and Macintosh computers. His clever
lampooning of pop culture earned him several cease-and-desist
letters from companies that didn't get the joke (I won't
name names, but Netscape was one of them), which he
Onion. When this madly funny but little-read satirical
newspaper found its way to the web, it finally reached
the worldwide audience it deserved. What set The Onion
apart from its predecessors, like Not Necessarily the
News and Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, is the
consistently hilarious quality of its writing.
When we started ZUG in 1995, we rudely dubbed it 'The
World's Only Comedy Site'. Known for a www.zug.com/gab/
'fanatical following' and www.zug.com/pranks/olestra
'irreverent corporate pranks', ZUG is so funny that
you'll shoot a cheese sandwich out of your nose. We
guarantee it, or your money back.