Viral Video's 'Patient Zero'

Friday, February 08, 2013


In 1995, roughly a decade before YouTube ushered in the age of the viral video, a couple of upstart young film-school grads created an underground, analog video sensation.  Producer JP Davidson brings us the story of that video and its unlikely role as viral video’s ‘patient zero’.  


JP Davidson

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [5]


It's a great story, but the method I was introduced to Southpark was through a travelling animation festival that went nationwide at colleges called Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation ( While I can understand wanting to intertwine one's legacy into the burgeoning internet, I bet this animation festival and others like it were factors as well. It's too bad that part of the story was left out...

Feb. 12 2013 06:23 AM
Seamus Riley

So, how did On The Media decide which 17th generation video that we used to copy and share back in the day would be "patient zero", because I know for a fact it wasn't the south park video. As long as there were VCRs people were copying and sharing videos that couldn't be broadcast on television. I remember watching the Chuck Berry in the bathtub video back in the 80s. So, does On The Media just make up the truth?

Feb. 11 2013 07:59 PM
Lisa from Pittsburgh, PA

Not only was the "Christmas card" a viral video, but the first six episodes were, too. A lot of people (myself included) didn't have Comedy Central on their cable, so they had to get bootleg VHS tapes. I remember getting a tape of the first six, and taking it around my friends. Then of course, we made copies of our copies for them to watch and show to their friends. I think there was a story in the local news media about the cable companies getting bombarded with calls and emails to carry Comedy Central.

Feb. 11 2013 07:40 PM

I remember back in high school handing around a VHS tape of this! I have no idea where we got it from, but we watched it over and over! It was probably 1996 or so, in the Boston area.

Feb. 11 2013 11:42 AM

The original file/upload is still on UIUC's servers!

Feb. 11 2013 11:25 AM

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