A Beginner's Guide To Chapo .pdf
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Chapo Trap House
Will, Matt & Felix were marginal twitter personalities when they met as guests on Street Fight Radio, an
“anarcho-comedy” podcast (and actual radio show) out of Columbus, Ohio. The trio convened to discuss
Michael Bay’s 2016 Benghazi movie, “13 Hours.”
Shortly thereafter, they began recording Chapo Trap House as the 2016 primaries were happening. The
political ideology of the show takes aim at the entrenched power in the Democratic establishment,
mocking the shallow neoliberalism that drives rhetoric at the highest levels. They feel the Left has been
crippled by Democratic leadership that values optics, logic and compromise rather than systematic
change based on strong moral arguments. They envy the Right for their crassness, bad manners and
never apologizing for what they’re asking for, no matter how illogical.
They have equal contempt for staunch centrists, and mock liberals’ eagerness to compromise in good
faith because it’s based on the irrational belief that conservatives will listen, respond to their persuasive
logic, and return the favor in kind.
Will Menaker, (@willmenaker) founder and ringleader, always the first to speak on any episode
(“It’s your Chapo for the week” - most neutral, boyish voice of the gang). NYC native,
background in publishing. Skidmore alum. Extensive knowledge of charlatan centrist pundits,
pseudointellectual “experts,” and other hustlers in the world of nonfiction. His disdain for the
pundit class drives the Chapo Reading Series, where they dive into the most useless columns
and memoirs ever written. His dad was a New Yorker fiction editor, as well as editor-in-chief at
Felix Biederman, (@ByYourLogic) Hyde Park, Chicago native, technically Jewish, youngest of
the crew (born 1990) most likely to make a political analogy using an obscure reference to
trendy SoundCloud rappers, MMA, Metal Gear, porn stars/search terms. Definitely has one foot
in the dudebro world of bodybuilding and MMA, and stuff like /r/NoFap, and makes a lot of jokes
about it. Funniest and least pretentious of the gang, but also knows a lot about Saudi Arabia
and the Middle East. Often jokes about the “racism factory” that his family used to own, and his
supposed (but undocumented) proclivity to say the N-word (it means “ignorant person,” he
insists, through several layers of irony). He takes advantage of his Jewish heritage to do broadly
anti-semitic impressions of Jared Kushner. His voice is easily the snarkiest and most nasal.
Felix also created a character named Carl Diggler, (host of “The Digcast”) a clueless radical
centrist, Beltway horserace pundit fond of claiming “both sides do it,” and who draws political
analogies based on his struggles in family court over the custody of his large son.
Matt Christman, (@cushbomb) Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, most likely to be full of idealistic
rage. Married to a librarian. Knows a good bit about American history and socialist theory. Lived
in Cincinnati for the first year or so of the podcast & so early episodes are marked by his
skyped-in voice. Hates “prestige TV,” despite watching “Game of Thrones” and others. Hates
video games, at least for rhetorical effect, and has publicly debated Virgil on the topic. He’s a
chubby, bearded Midwesterner, and once you know that, you won’t be able to unhear it in his
Will, Felix and Matt are the original core hosts, aka the “Chapo Dry Boys,” but they are sometimes joined
or replaced by the other official Chapo crew:
Virgil Texas, (@VirgilTexas) (pseudonym, taken from “True Stories,” real name unknown)
token POC co-host (as either ½ or ¼ Asian) most likely to call someone an “imbecile,” most
Aspergery/professorial tone. He’s a Steve Kornacki fanboy and knows a lot about electoral
patterns. Loves video games, (particularly Overwatch) and has debated Christman extensively
on the merits of gaming. Co-created the Carl Diggler character with Felix, and played his
assistant on “The Digcast,” Diggler’s now-defunct podcast.
Amber A’Lee Frost, NYU adjunct professor, Indiana native with a hillbilly pedigree, token
female co-host, early champion of Chapo, former roommate of Felix, coined the term “dirtbag
Brendan James: College friend of Will’s (they sound similar) who was the producer of the show
for the first year or so, occasionally sitting in on mic.
Recurring Jokes & Characters
The incel/volcel dichotomy. The hosts all jokingly identify as voluntarily celibate.
Public figures having Twitter meltdowns are often referred to as “having a normal day
online,” or “having a real normal one” - “normal” here meaning the exact opposite (basic
irony) of normal. Felix often refers to himself as “a normal guy,” and Trump as “President
A staple of the Reading Series are columns in which a conservative pundit relates a
personal tale of petty grievance from their own life (like a bad customer service
experience) and trying to extrapolate their minor hardships into problems with the world
at large. Within this category is a rarer (yet surprisingly common) trope of the narrator
being stuck in an elevator or theme park ride and treating it like a near-death experience.
“Debate Club” - a common pathology among many in the pundit class, and from Aaron
Sorkin to Ted Cruz, there is (to the Chapo boys) a misconception that reasoned debate
and logic will be the deciding factor on most issues. This manifests itself comedically
through interjections of “Sir! Sir! How dare you! That is an ad hominem attack and it will
Felix is fond of the deep cut, early Obama-era far-right conspiracy that Obama was not
only a Kenyan Muslim, but also a dog-eating gay prostitute. Every time Felix does an
Obama voice, there’s about a 30% chance he makes a joke about eating dog, and a
70% chance it follows the format: “Let me be clear… if you like your ______, you can
Similarly, “Democrat voice,” (an invention of Virgil’s, which evolved from Hillary’s famous
“Pokemon GO to the polls” quote) done in a grating cadence, using the format “I may not
be [hamfisted pop culture reference] but I can [hamfisted Democratic platform
“Hip-hop-style” as a blanket euphemism for “black,” derived from football commentators
saying “I’m sick of these hip-hop-style quarterbacks showing off all the time” or “I’m sick
of these hip-hop-style, Black Lives Matter thugs.” Also in this dichotomy, “lunchpail
quarterback” presumably means “white.”
Early episodes of the show tracked a fascination with the 2016 Turkish coup attempt,
Erdogan and “The Traitor Gulen.” Fans of the show (especially Patreon subscribers) are
officially known as “Grey Wolves,” after members of the shadowy Turkish
ultra-nationalist neo-fascist party.
#TCOT (“tee-cot”): “Top Conservatives on Twitter” - refers to the online wing of the Tea Party in
the early years of Obama and Twitter.
Tankie: an ideological communist and modern day Lenin apologist. The type of commie that
McCarthy was afraid of.
C.H.U.D. - “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller,” reference to a 1984 horror movie.
Applied to your average, run-of-the-mill Trump supporting Pepe. Often “MAGA CHUD.”
Lanyard - (see also: “lanyard-dick” or “bowtie”) a member of the D.C. Beltway wonk class,
Proud Boys - A “pro-Western” alt-right streetfighting gang started by Gavin McInnes, (founder
of Vice Magazine) dedicated to “venerating the housewife” and not masturbating. Initiation ritual
allegedly involves naming 5 kinds of breakfast cereal while being punched.
Ross Douthat: Conservative columnist. Catholic. Harvard grad. Wrote a memoir about his
working class background & experience at Harvard, being generally jaded about the whole
thing, fooling around with a “chunky Reese Witherspoon” and feeling jaded about that, too.
During his internship at the National Review, founder and conservative intellectual giant William
F. Buckley took him and some other boys out on his boat & talked them into skinny dipping,
which Ross is not jaded and very romantic about. Was a recent guest on Slate’s Cultural
Gabfest talking about (not really) banning porn.
Ron Fournier: Detroit native who cut his teeth covering Bill Clinton, in the late 80s, early 90s,
first in Hot Springs and then at the Democrat-Gazette. Radical centrist, “both sides do it” kinda
guy - major inspiration for Carl Diggler.
Jeff Jacoby: Conservative Boston Globe columnist and another major Carl Diggler inspiration,
primarily due to his series of annual columns that he writes to his unruly son, Caleb. Caleb ran
away from home at 16 and made it to New York from Boston before being found.
Jonathan Chait: Moderate liberal columnist at NY Mag and other places. His support for the
Iraq War is something he’s gone to great lengths to obscure and walk back, but Will Menaker is
dedicated to remembering it.
Rod Dreher: Reactionary conservative columnist who once fabricated an absurd secondhand
story about a gang of trans teens harassing a mother and her child at a movie theater. Raised
Protestant, converted to Catholicism and later Eastern Orthodox, so, clearly a psychopath.
Megan McArdle: Reptilian libertarian columnist for Bloomberg, recently hired at WaPo. Loves
luxury kitchen items as much as she hates any kind of government regulation.
Dan McLaughlin: aka ‘The Baseball Crank,’ a D-list Twitter pundit whose avatar is an
anguished-looking anthropomorphic baseball who the Chapo boys have adopted as their own
mascot and given a Mickey Mouse-type voice.
David Brooks: NYT columnist, you know who it is.
David French: National Review columnist, best known on Chapo for an incident where he went
to Iraq for a year, during which he did not permit his wife to use Facebook or email other men…
but she did. Variations of “stop emailing my wife, sir” are a common reference on the podcast.
Dennis Prager: Wrote this shining gem of a column, entitled “When a Woman Isn’t in the Mood:
Part I.” Runs an online journalism school called Prager U.
Ben Shapiro: Conservative Jew, author of “True Allegiance,” an inadvertent gem of a novel, a
transparent exercise in stroking neoconservative ideology via Jack Bauer fantasy, which several
Reading Series are dedicated to. Also a courageous skeptic of the concept of transgenderism.
Inventor of the catchphrase “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings.”
Peter Daou: Hillary Clinton’s Jorah Mormont and founder of Verrit, a social media platform for
liberals that nobody understands, but, as best anyone understands it “verifies memes.” Ardent
Twitter defender of Hillary and Chapo’s “most worthy adversary” who has called them out by
name as being “dangerous” because Peter is also “extremely online.” See more…
Eric Garland: Neoliberal Twitter user, statistician, “futurist” and “game theory expert,” mostly
referenced for a manic twitter thread in which he attempted to draft some new version of the
federalist papers, fueled by “adderall and craft beer.”
Elizabeth Holmes: Husky-voiced CEO of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that raised billions,
claiming it had a revolutionary method of taking blood samples using very little blood.
Dan Nainan: A former investment banker who cashed out to pursue his dream of being a clean
comedian who does corporate gigs. His signature joke is “I’m half Indian, half Japanese, so I get
my sushi at 7-11.” Famously lied about being a millennial to get more gigs. Is actually 55 years
Steven Crowder: conservative dipshit “comedian” (best known as the voice of Brain on “Arthur,”
briefly boosted by Andrew Breitbart and Fox News, but now on his own, originator of the
“Change My Mind” meme) who made a “prank” video where he went to a Home Depot parking
lot & hassled day laborers about their papers and yelling “I’m gonna call ICE on you
motherfuckers,” and also wrote a very smug column about how great it was when he saved his
virginity for marriage.
Dan Quinn: Not the Seahawks coach - a YouTuber from the MMA world who insists that he
gets superpowers from smoking blunts laced with stevia. Felix quotes him like he’s Eckhart
Rich Piana: Similar to Dan Quinn, Rich Piana was a well-known bodybuilder with a strong
YouTube presence, a strong personality with a number of questionable views. Died last year at
46 from probable steroid abuse. Felix wrote a moving obituary for him.
Laura Loomer: Citizen journalist, famous for long Periscope sessions getting angry that she
can’t find an Uber that isn’t driven by an Arab, subsequently banned from Uber.
Mike Cernovich: Citizen journalist and Periscoper (“keep those hearts comin’ folks”) who
conned his way into the White House press pool (shown here in a Vice News piece). Wrote the
self-help book “The Gorilla Mindset” while collecting alimony from his ex-wife. True alpha male.
Jack Posobiec aka “Jack Prilosec”: Kinda standard alt-right internet troll/personality,
Pizzagate true believer.
At the Genius office, as people set up chairs on the floor below us, Menaker described the
generic Chapo fan as a “failson”—which Biederman, who is twenty-six, defined as the guy that
“goes downstairs at Thanksgiving, briefly mumbles, ‘Hi,’ everyone asks him how community
college is going, he mumbles something about a 2.0 average, goes back upstairs with a loaf of
bread and some peanut butter, and gets back to gaming and masturbating.” As for the women
fans—who make up maybe twenty to thirty per cent of the audience, they guessed—“they all
seem to be success-daughters,” Menaker said. “They’re astrophysicists or novelists, extremely
on-point and competent people.”
Christman saw a political lesson in the show’s fan base. “The twenty-first century is basically
defined by nonessential human beings, who do not fit into the market as consumers or
producers or as laborers,” he said. “That manifests itself differently in different classes and
geographic areas. For white, middle-class, male, useless people—who have just enough family
context to not be crushed by poverty—they become failsons.” The “Chapo Trap House” guys are
sincerely concerned with American inequality; at the same time, their most instinctive
sympathies seem to fall with people whose worst-case scenario is a feeling of purposelessness.
“Some of them turn into Nazis,” Christman continued. “Others become aware of the
consequences of capitalism.”
[from “What Will Become of the Dirtbag Left?” by Jia Tolentino, in the New Yorker, 11/18/2016]
[“The Resistance” liberals] have nothing in terms of an argument or a coherent worldview or useful praxis,
but what they do have is that they are speaking on behalf of a hegemonic liberalism that is going to get us
all fucking killed.
Fascism arises because of the collapse of institutional legitimacy of liberal institutions - that’s how we got
Trump, that’s how we’re gonna get what comes after him that’s going to be even worse, because if you
think there’s not going to be more ecological and economic catastrophes in the future that liberalism is
wholly unsuited to fucking deal with, and that that failure is not going to lead to fascism filling that fucking
hole, you’ve got another thing coming. That’s what these guys are… who marched in
Charlottesville, these are the people who are aware of the unspoken premise of this
zombie neoliberalism that we’re living in, which is that we’re coming to a point where
there’s gonna be ecological catastrophe that will either require the mass redistribution of
the ill-gotten gains of the first world - or genocide, and these people are the first people
who have said “Well, if that’s the choice, I choose genocide” and they’re getting
everybody else ready intellectually and emotionally for why that’s going to be okay when
it happens, why “they’re not really people” when we’re putting all this money into more
fucking walls and drones and bombs and guns to keep ‘em away, so we can watch them
die with clear consciences, it’s gonna be because we’ve been loaded with the ideology
that these guys are now starting to express publicly. On the other side of them, you have
people who are saying in full fucking voice: “No, we have the resources to save everybody, to give
everybody a fucking decent and worthwhile existence, and that is what we want” and that is the real
difference between these two, and you can tell that to the next asshole who tells you they’re actually two
sides of the same coin.
- Matt Christman