As the saying goes, only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. While that may be true, Benjamin Franklin—who coined the phrase back in 1789—never met Skyler Gisondo. Nor did Franklin see the unending memes about the actor that flood Twitter every other month like the tide, pushing out to sea and returning to the beach in perpetuity.
It’s 2023 and that old verbiage needs an update. Only three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and memes about Skyler Gisondo.
Just over two weeks ago, the useful internet culture resource Know Your Meme website added a Skyler Gisondo page, cataloging his increasing number of meme appearances. “Skyler Gisondo is an American actor who became the subject of memes that captioned two photos of him smiling,” it reads. “The freckly-faced, white, male actor garnered humorous comparisons to niche, ‘white guy’ archetypes, one of the most notable being ‘he looks like he can do a crazy trick on the trampoline’ which was a part of a viral tweet shared in 2022.”
I’d argue, though, that these memes have been around longer than since just 2022.
Gisondo has been working regularly for years, and has a smattering of excellent titles on his resume. You may know him as the crush-worthy Jared of Booksmart. He also starred in Licorice Pizza as Alana Haim’s brief love interest. Other roles include appearances in Night At the Museum, The Social Dilemma, Vacation, and The Resort. Most recently, he’s been starring as prodigal son Gideon Gemstone in The Righteous Gemstones.
Most of his performances have, with a miraculous consistency, given way to some widely shared images online. Folks who loved 2018’s Booksmart—and let’s be honest, even people who weren’t big fans could still love this role—reshared a photo of Jared wearing a shirt of himself, which featured him wearing another shirt of himself wearing another shirt of himself, and so on, until the image of Jared was tiny and nearly invisible. Then came “Bien, bien,” an image Licorice Pizza fans used as a reaction post to good news.
Now, with Gisondo as one of the best parts of Righteous Gemstones, he’s continued to be in the zeitgeist. But the memes have evolved from those based on his roles to jokes using photos of the actor as himself. Most commonly shared is the image featured on his IMDb profile page. He’s got a big smile on his face. He looks like he’d be the nicest acquaintance ever—someone you see once a month or so and who always compliments your outfit. The memes usually say something similar to my thoughts—he’s a nice looking boy, he’d be a great waiter, et cetera. This image is the one on Know Your Meme and the one that even your grandma might recognize.
But there’s a newer viral image in the mix. On Sunday, Gisondo posted an artistically shot photo with his sweet pup Auggie on Instagram. “Don’t talk to me or my son ever again,” he captioned the image. Because they both look adorable—and dramatic—this image skyrocketed in popularity on Twitter. The most popular post suggests: “He looks like the dust bowl woman … burdened yet beautiful.” From there, other Twitter users edited photos to make Gisondo look like a grandmother.
Instead of getting upset with these goofs, Gisondo has shown himself to be a real class act. Not only is he a killer actor—to prove this point, let me tell you that I only started watching Righteous Gemstones because he was in the main cast—but he loves his fans. Though Gisondo is not on Twitter, he likes to share these memes on his Instagram, applauding their creativity. “I’m crying,” he said in response to the Dust Bowl woman comment. “Ok this one’s my favorite,” he added in response to the “meemaw” image. We love to see a man running with a joke. He’s laughing with us, because we’re laughing with him—not at him.
All of this goodwill has convinced us that he belongs in even more, even bigger roles—which has, of course, generated even more memes. Fans love to dream cast Gisondo into other parts. He should’ve been Elvis in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, one tweeter suggested. Even I weighed in, suggesting that he should’ve been cast in Harry Styles’ part in Don’t Worry Darling—and I stand by it.
That said, it’s still hard to put a finger on why, exactly, jokes about and photos of Gisondo seem to go viral all the time. He’s a funny, stand-up guy with a killer filmography for a 27-year-old. But something about these images are just entrancing. We Skyler Gisondo fans (Skyler Gisonders? Do we have a name?) want to see him appear in every form of entertainment. Get this man an EGOT.
Though Know Your Meme has a detailed history of Gisondo’s internet relevance, I feel as though the origins date back to the late-2010s. The archive suggests that the meme started on a Reddit thread in September 2020, but I recall seeing photos of Gisondo going viral with the release of Booksmart in 2019. The movie started selling shirts plastered with his character’s face.
There’s something about his face, too, that just makes him so lovable. Maybe it’s the freckles. Maybe it’s the perfectly wide smile. You see his face, and you want to host a barbecue with him. Of course you’ll retweet, like, and share any image featuring that freckled smile. Gisondo has the allure of a model, but instead of convincing people to buy clothes, he’s persuading everyone to watch his movies and fall in love with him as an actor.
We may never be able to say with certainty where, exactly, the Gisondo memes began. But I am certain when I say this: The heartwarming Gisondo memes should never end. If he’s on board with them, and he continues to deliver great performances, they never will.