The original My Name Jeff meme, so named after Channing Tatum’s falsetto imitation of a Hispanic gang member in the 2014 action comedy 22 Jump Street, quickly became one of 2014’s hottest memes.
It was popular in 2015 too, with YouTubers uploading compilation videos of Vine remixes of the “My name is Jeff” clip.
My Name Jeff still lives to this day, but its heyday may have passed. Did its fall from grace have anything to do with PewDiePie’s bizarre re-enactment of the line?
Where did the My Name Jeff meme come from?
Whence came My Name Jeff? The meme and its assorted proliferations owe themselves to the 2016 buddy cop action comedy movie 22 Jump Street.
22 Jump Street is the sequel to 21 Jump Street. Both movies star Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as undercover officers Jenko and Schmidt.
21 Jump Street was itself based on the television series of the same name, which aired on the Fox network from 1987 to 1991, with a total of 103 episodes.
What happens in the scene, and why is it so meme-able?
In the film, following Schmidt’s lead, Tatum’s character Jenko improvises a Spanish accent in order to mix with a group of Hispanic gangsters. All he can think to say is the line, “My name Jeff”. Schmidt quickly follows with, “That’s Jefe, man”.
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Jeff is not a particularly Spanish name. It is, in fact, a shortening of Jeffrey, which is itself a variant of Geoffrey – itself from a Middle French variant of Godfrey or Gottfried (the latter being decidedly Germanic).
So Jonah Hill’s line, “That’s Jefe, man”, is an attempt to mask the unspanishness of Channing Tatum’s.
Still, the line’s brevity, and the fact that the very is is missing, makes it a funny one-liner. And its simplicity means it is transferable to basically any other situation.
My Name Jeff soars as one of the biggest themes of 2014 and 2015
By late 2014, numerous YouTube videos existed compiling My Name Jeff memes and vines.
A longer clip of part of the scene has been viewed almost 21 million times since it was uploaded on June 18, 2014; a six-second clip of the “My name Jeff” line alone has 12 million.
In November 2014, a popular Vine dubbed the My Name Jeff meme over Eminem’s music video for My Name Is. Two months later, this Jeff Vine Compilation arrived on YouTube, compiling Vines using clips from such movies/shows as Taken, SpongeBob SquarePants, Spider Man and Family Guy.
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A Facebook page, set up on November 22, 2016, titled Why does he say ‘my name is Jeff’ when it is not? is still going to this day, with over 45,000 followers.
But when Vine shut down on January 17, 2017, the original platform on which the My Name Jeff meme took off ceased to exist.
When did PewDiePie re-enact the My Name Jeff meme?
During a March 8, 2017 video titled Do I Take Drugs, in which he answered questions submitted by his followers, Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie (real name: Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) re-enacted the 22 Jump Street scene.
Starting at 4:22 (see below), he reads out the question. At 4:29, he says he won’t do it. Then, at 4:34, he says he’s been practising. Then, at 4:39, he says “My name… Jeff”.
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Since then, other videos have come and gone, with varying degrees of interest. The My Name Jeff meme’s popularity has continued. 11 months ago, YouTube user Its Gman uploaded a video titled ‘My name Jeff 62,768,369,664,000 times’. It has 361K views so far.