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“That’s the Joke” is a catchphrase uttered by the fictional character Rainier Wolfcastle in a stand-up comedy scene from a 1995 episode of The Simpsons. Online, the quote is used to condescendingly explain the punchline of a joke, or as the deadpan punchline to an otherwise-unfunny remark. It can be also iterated in filename extension format, such as “thatsthejoke.jpg.”
The quote first appeared in an episode of The Simpsons “A Star is Burns” which aired on March 5th, 1995. In the scene, an excerpt clip is shown from character Rainier Wolfcastle’s (voiced by Harry Shearer) new stand-up comedy movie. After missing the punchline, Wolfcastle plainly says “that’s the joke.”
On July 18th, 2006, YTMND user sebastienricher created a site replaying “That’s the joke” on loop over a still image of Rainier Wolfcastle. On 4chan, the filename extended version has been in use as early as January 22nd, 2008, when a user on /v/ (Video Games) posted “thatsthejoke.jpg” in response to another user unnecessarily pointing out the joke in a thread where every Pokemon character was re-designed in the style of Gardevoir. Throughout 2008, the phrase continued to appear on /co/ (Comics and Cartoons), /a/ (Anime and Manga) and /tg/ (Traditional Games). The same year, the webcomic Gunshow began using the phrase as a trope in several comic strips.
In July 2009, “thatsthejoke.jpg” came up in a thread on the IGN Forums discussing the spread of 4chan memes outside of the imageboard. This reference to the image has also been used on Fark, Twitter and message boards including GameFAQs and the Roblox forum. On Tumblr, “That’s the Joke” has evolved into a tag that is often paired with the tag “that’s it”, as to emphasize the lack of humor contained in the post. The idea behind the original Simpsons skit is explored on TV Tropes on the page “Don’t Explain the Joke.”