Swine Flu's Funny Side Effects: Some Intended, Some Not

Side effects of pandemic include pig jokes, unfortunate use of face masks.

April 30, 2009, 5:37 PM

May 1, 2009 — -- With a name like swine flu, the jokes practically write themselves.

On late night TV and across the Internet, swine flu (officially re-branded the "H1N1 flu," a name change about as likely to stick as Prince's multi-symbol moniker) has turned into a punchline. It seems a natural fate for a pandemic associated with pigs and masks from the Michael Jackson accessory collection.

Jimmy Kimmel used swine flu as an excuse to show a mock Barack Obama conducting his first 100 days press conference in a face mask and to debut his show's own line of swine flu protective gear, modeled after the mug of his sidekick, Guillermo.

Jay Leno invoked it to explain the mystery illness that made him miss a show last week, saying Monday night, "What happened was, and I think was a mistake, I ate a raw pig a friend brought back from Mexico."

Jon Stewart dubbed the media frenzy surrounding swine flu "Snoutbreak '09" and claimed that despite the 150-plus probable deaths, the disease still ranks last on the "list of things that can kill you in Mexico."

The Internet's best swipes at swine flu include the site DoIHavePigFlu.com, whose URL could lead people to believe it offers legitimate swine flu resources (until they actually click on it) and a photo of a toddler kissing a pig sandwiched by the caption, "You little bastard. You've killed us all."

The forgotten fantasy adventure film "Willow" is enjoying a resurgence in relevance on the Internet. A clip from the 1988 movie featuring Val Kilmer's shocking[ly cheesy] transformation from warrior to pig is generating comments on YouTube like "OMG IT'S THE SWINE FLU!" and "Whenever anyone talks about the Swine Flu, this is what I think about."

Some of the most amusing side effects of swine flu come not from comedians or the online masses, but from people attempting to be taken seriously while wearing those ubiquitous face masks, most notably MTV reality TV stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.

Following their highly publicized wedding last weekend, "Speidi" decamped to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where paparazzi snapped photos of them soaking up the sun, strutting down the beach and even attempting a bizarre sort of Eskimo kiss -- all while wearing identical surgical face masks.

Some Can't Stomach Swine Flu Jokes

Of course, not everyone is taking the approach that laughter's the best medicine against a disease they probably don't have.

In Britain, government official Sion Simon angered some when he suggested that homely "Britain's Got Talent" singing sensation Susan Boyle might have something to do swine flu.

According to the Daily Mail, Simon posted on his Twitter page Wednesday, "I'm not saying Susan Boyle caused swine flu. I'm just saying that nobody had swine flu, she sang on TV, people got swine flu."

Simon's constituents and fellow Labour party members were not amused, citing the recent confirmation that a 12-year-old girl from Britain had come down with the virus. The Daily Mail said he apologized via Twitter and deleted his original joke.

"View" moderator Whoopi Goldberg stayed home from the ABC daytime talk show for two days this week fearing she had "the piggy flu." Back on the show Thursday, she admitted it was just a cold, but she took her symptoms seriously because she didn't want to infect pregnant co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck or the rest of "The View's" staff.

Too bad -- Goldberg could've just clicked here and saved the sick days.

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