Know Your GIF: This ad-libbed slapping of Hugo the Hornet actually happened in 2008
This is the perfect GIF gag. From the setup (Look out! Somebody warn him there’s a human in that blow-up mascot!) to the action (Boo…
This is the perfect GIF gag. From the setup (Look out! Somebody warn him there’s a human in that blow-up mascot!) to the action (Boo! JESUS CHRIST! Haha! He fell!) to the reaction (Guy quickly recovers, realizes he still has a blunt object in his right hand, uses it as weapon) to the aftermath (Guy coolly walks away as Hugo slowly falls on his face). Above all, this works because we all want to be this guy. It takes near-impossible fortitude to transition from mortifying embarrassment to Boss Mode in less than three seconds.
It helps if you know in advance what’s coming. “You know that was staged, right?” says Terry Brazley, 56, the guy in the GIF. He was the food court manager at the Lakeside Shopping Center in Metarie, La. for 32 years. Not long before Christmas 2008, the marketing manager for the mall asked him if he’d play along with a bit for a video to be shown during the timeouts of New Orleans Hornets games. He did. Convincingly. “I acted,” he says. “It was a big act.”
There was already a clue that Brazley was in on it. Earlier in the video, you can see him hanging out in the background (bottom right in the photo below), watching as other shoppers are genuinely frightened by Hugo, who shudders to life as they pass by.
Brazley was the only person in the video who knew what was going to happen. He knew to act scared, but didn’t know how, exactly, until the exact moment when Hugo lunged at him. His knees buckled. He grabbed on to his cart. And then, he took a roll of trash bags in his hand and smacked Hugo in the face. That wasn’t planned. That was a reflex. And then he kept going. He didn’t know the guy in the costume. He didn’t stop to find out if he was okay (he probably was).
The video made Brazley a minor celebrity at his mall in Metarie, and at basketball games, although he’s never been to see the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) play. And for whatever reason, the Internet rediscovered the nearly seven-year-old video and made it into a GIF that’s now popping up in a lot of places online (It’s received more than 4 million views on Imgur in a little more than a week’s time). Brazley’s smack even spawned a sequel. The New Orleans Hornets put out a similar video two years later, with the same, albeit more meta, climax. Even though he’s been retired from the mall for two years, Brazley says people still come in, and ask where they can find him. He’s proud of the smack, he says. “That was my own touch.”