What the Hell Happened To: KeyBoard Cat [ANSWERS INSIDE!]


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As reporters/journalists/chroniclers of all things “new media” NMR is often people’s source for questions, such as: “What the hell happened to the ‘diarrhea jacuzzi girl’?” Oftentimes, we can’t answer questions like this because we don’t friggin’ know. Frequently, there aren’t any answers because they dropped offline and stopped making/showing up in videos.

But these people/animals/objects are an important part of the culture. Where would we be without “diarrhea jacuzzi girl”? I’ll answer that: nowhere. And so what we want to do, as often as we can, is track down these people/animals/objects so that you can get some closure in your life. Also because one day, it might be the answer that gets you a “pink pie” in Trivial Pursuit at some future Thanksgiving “Family Game Night” and we want to play our part in that. So join us as we hunt down some answers in our recurring weekend feature “What the Hell Happened To __________________?”

This week, we find out what the hell happened to Keyboard Cat.

The Keyboard Cat meme, as you well know, shot to the heights of YouTube fame with a single strange clip of a fat cat in a blue shirt disinterestedly banging away on a keyboard with a surprisingly jaunty tune. See below:

With 38,000,000 views, it’s one of the biggest cat videos on the internet — and one of the most namechecked. So with that kind of noise around it, how come Keyboard Cat never made a sequel? That video came out in 2007, surely that cat has tickled the ivories in the last seven years …

Okay, I’m not going to bore you with the detective work (because most of it was just going to Wikipedia), but Keyboard Cat hasn’t done any notable follow-up videos because … he’s dead. Yup, he died in 1987, long before YouTube (and many of its current innovators) was created. So how did Keyboard Cat — real name: Fatso– become an internet star? The answer lies in Charlie Schmidt, Fatso’s owner.

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Schmidt, who filmed the clip in 1984 and is the one manipulating the cat beneath the shirt, uploaded the video under its original name “Charlie Schmidt’s Cool Cats.” Once he realized this kitten had legs, he changed the name to “Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat – The Original.” So what happened to Charlie Schmidt? Why didn’t he just get a replacement cat and keep the wheels turning on the cash register?

In short: he does. But also: merchandising! Charlie has licensed out the Keyboard Cat image for use on mugs, t-shirts and other various household sundries. Why work like a slave when you can merchandise like a king!

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Charlie, who is a multimedia artist, works out of Spokane, WA, still runs his Chuckieart channel on YouTube and as recently as five days ago uploaded a new “Keyboard Cat” video:

Yeah, it’s considerably sadder knowing a replacement cat is doing the Menudo bit in sad follow-up videos. Even sadder, the views for it are right around 12,000. Yup, “Keyboard Cat” is still hanging around, but instead of selling out stadiums, he’s playing dive bars in Paramus, NJ.

Still, there’s a little money to be had in the Keyboard Cat name and one has to believe that when this imposter Fatso dies, a copy of the copy will come in to take his place. Perhaps it would have just been better if we had all stopped reading at that point up there where I said he died.


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