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Laughing Joe Biden refers to the U.S. vice president Joe Biden’s constant laughing that became a popular subject of online mockeries during the 2012 United States vice presidential debate in October 2012.
On October 12th, 2012, the vice presidential debate between the Democrat incumbent Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan took place at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. In stark contrast to the first presidential debate, the candidates carried on a spirited exchange with an energetic presence and the moderator Martha Raddatz won praise for pressing both for more specific answers. Throughout the 90-minute session, Biden was repeatedly seen wearing a smirk on his face when it was Ryan’s turn to speak, which quickly became a trending topic on Twitter.
Within minutes into the debate, Twitter parody account @LaughingJoeBiden was launched at 9:20pm (ET) with the first tweet reading “LOL”, immediately followed by another parody account @BidenSmirk created at 9:21pm (ET) and the third account @LaughingBiden at 9:50pm (ET).
lol— Laughing Joe Biden (@LaughinJoeBiden) October 12, 2012
— Laughing Joe Biden (@LaughingJBiden) October 12, 2012
— Joe Biden’s Smirk (@BidenSmirk) October 12, 2012
During the first hour alone, @LaughingJoeBiden gained nearly 5,000 followers and by the end of the 90 minute debate, the account had gained more than 8,000 followers. In addition, screenshots of Biden’s smirks began making the rounds with hashtags like #malarky, #laughingbiden and #bidensmirk.
News Media Coverage
The political blog Politico was one of the first to write a story on Joe Biden’s smirk, highlighting a collection of tweets from political commentators and columnists. The trending topic was reported on by many U.S. news outlets and blog publications, from The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN to The Huffington Post, Mediate, and Gawker with a wide range of opinions on Biden’s demeanor during the debate. The Associated Press noted on the smirk by stating “Biden mockingly smiled, wagged his finger and couldn’t seem to stop interrupting Republican running mate Paul Ryan."
Republican Campaign Ad
In the early hours of the following day, the Republican National Committee released a YouTube campaign advertisement featuring a back-to-back montage of Joe Biden’s smirk sequences set to Paul Ryan’s speaking points from the debate. The video gained a quarter million views in the first 12 hours of upload.
Washington Post – Vice presidential debate: Biden’s smirk gets mixed reactions
New York Times – Showing His Teeth, Biden Spurs Debate on His Performance
Entertainment Weekly – Is ‘Laughing Joe Biden’ the Democrats’ ‘Big Bird’ moment?