Clearly, the year 2020 has been a rough one. But there is one thing we’ll remember it fondly for, and that is some of the hilarious moments which have ensued from many of us adjusting to working from home. One driver for potential faux pas came in the form of Zoom calls, which undoubtedly had the less tech-savvy among us scratching our heads. So without further ado, here are 40 times we inadvertently put our foot in it.
40. Boss turns herself into a potato
People For the American Way national political director Lizet Ocampo was holding a meeting on Microsoft Teams when she turned herself into a potato. Yes, you read that correctly. Ocampo was unable to remove the pesky filter she’d activated, so it was left that way for the duration. One of her team then took a screenshot and it – naturally – went viral. The boss told Insider in April 2020, “I had no idea why I was a potato, and I couldn’t change it to a regular camera.”
39. My, what big nostrils you have
This nostril-related gaff was experienced by Kristiana Martin – an early childhood special education teacher from Dumfries in Scotland. She was trying to chat with her assistant over Zoom when her son took it upon himself to check out what was happening. He leaned over her laptop from behind – sticking his nose right in front of the camera and giving the assistant a good laugh.
38. Stuck as a pen for an important business meeting
In March 2020 a writer for The New York Times called Erin Griffith was messing around with a Zoom add-on pack, and she made a boo-boo. Finding herself stuck as a blue pen – complete with human eyes and a toothy grin – was maybe not how she wanted to appear at an important meeting. She tweeted a screenshot, though, and has received over 3,000 likes at the time of writing. Yep, that’ll turn a frown upside down.
37. Googly eyed priest is nightmare fuel
Kelsey Lewis Vincent – a youth pastor from Atlanta – tweeted a screenshot of her brother’s church service in March 2020. But someone had set a googly eyes filter on the Zoom live-stream, which had left the priest looking like one of the human cartoons from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? We think you’ll agree; it made for total nightmare fuel.
36. But I don’t want to speak to my boss right now
One of the great lessons of the 2020 work-from-home revolution is that children are always ready and willing to cause havoc. T-Mobile chief marketing officer Matt Staneff found this out the hard way when his young daughter commandeered his computer screen and immediately video called his boss. Co-workers, eh? Who needs them!
35. Last night’s beer is today’s Zoom fodder
Welsh public relations man Andy Green made a cardinal Zoom mistake when he was chatting with a senior figure in his industry. But what happened? Well, the individual was able to see his bookshelf behind him and noted a stray can of beer nestled snugly in front of some weighty tomes. Green had forgotten to properly tidy up after a drinking session the night before. Whoops!
34. Virtual eyes are pretty terrifying
Once Zoom meetings became the norm during 2020, many of us quickly discovered that our home laptops simply weren’t fit for purpose. And Megan Hall – assistant professor of viticulture at the University of Missouri – was one of these people. She tweeted a screenshot of herself looking like a terrifying green-eyed alien. And it was all apparently because her laptop was too ancient to handle a virtual Zoom background.
33. Look at my cat’s litter box, why don’t you
McGill University professor of mechanical engineering Andrew Higgins had reached his final Zoom semester in April 2020, and he was feeling good. But then his camera suddenly experienced “rapid unintentional disassembly,” and it left his students with a view of his cat’s litter box. Mercifully for Higgins, the box was clean. Otherwise, that could’ve been embarrassing…
32. Part man, part bison
Ken Homan – who describes himself as a Jesuit, wrestler, woodworker and weightlifter on Twitter – posted an amusing Zoom screenshot in March. He had changed his background to a great photograph of a bison in an open field. Unfortunately, Zoom thought his beard should have been part of the background, so he became a half-man, half-bison hybrid for his video call.
31. No green screen is the road to hell
That April an unsuspecting PhD student from Harvard University named Ariana Castillo clicked the “no green screen” option during a Zoom call with her friends. That should have been no problem, right? Wrong. Because her laptop was old, she wound up inhabiting what can only be described as a burning orange hellscape that removed her eyes. Scary.
30. La la la la, I’m not listening
In March a student from New York called Michelle posted a screenshot on Twitter of her teacher covering his ears. He apparently had no choice but to do it when some of his students started swearing on their Zoom conference call. Naturally, Michelle found this hilarious and so did most of Twitter.
29. This teacher keeps unusual hours
“Ms Johnson, get some sleep.” This message was posted on a Zoom chat at 1:14 a.m. by a student named Sarah Strope. Was she worried about the teacher’s wellbeing and wanted her to get some rest? Nope. As the classmate who posted the screenshot of Strope’s advice claimed, she was actually telling her off because she had posted five assignments for her at that time in the morning.
28. Zoom backgrounds are hard
Many people have struggled with applying their Zoom backgrounds in 2020. But few have made a faux pas quite like Rachel Woods-Robinson’s dad. While the extended family were on a call on the anniversary of her grandmother’s death, everyone got a good look at Woods-Robinson’s father’s background. For some reason, it was his daughter’s 2017 W-2 form, with her social security number front and center for all to see. Whoops.
27. Magenta hair and pale yellow walls combine for maximum creepiness
In April PhD candidate George Binns decided she wanted to experiment with her Zoom background for a call with her undergraduate students. But she felt like her blonde hair would fade into the background of the pale yellow walls behind when on camera. Binns then dyed her hair a bright magenta color. The result was her skin blending into the background, leaving only a purple T-shirt and magenta hair – on a person with no face.
26. Rocket Racoon, eat your heart out
Picture the scene: you are logging onto a Zoom call to chat with University of British Columbia PhD student Cristina Rubino. Shockingly, though, you wind up speaking to a vaguely terrifying outline of her that is filled with the image of a cute and cuddly raccoon. The outline contains both Rubino’s eyes and the raccoon’s. Yes, it’s weird.
25. Spa day or Zoom meeting?
Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley are two Nebraska moms who started the Facebook webseries I Mom So Hard in 2016. Since then, they have expanded to books, a podcast and a stand-up special on Amazon Instant Video. But in March Jen found out the hard way that the business call they were on was a video meeting, which meant her spa day attire wasn’t exactly appropriate.
24. Crazy hair and lace shirts are maybe not acceptable business attire
According to his website, “Blair Bigham is an award-winning journalist, scientist and resident emergency physician based in Toronto.” Amusingly, even successful people like Bigham have made Zoom fails in 2020, such as when he realized after a call that he hadn’t fixed his hair, hadn’t shaved in days, and was wearing a see-through lace shirt. Ah, well. It happens to the best of us.
23. You spin me right round
Grappling with technology can often lead to everyone having a good time, and sometimes a Zoom call gone wrong can be just what the doctor ordered. When Patty Martinez joined a call with family members, she and her husband’s camera setting caused them to look like they were upside down. The family all laughed, because sometimes we simply need to chuckle at something silly.
22. Some people still need the company when working from home
Many of us adapted easily to working from home, and others realized that they even preferred it to the office. Yet other people missed the interaction they got from their workplaces. A Twitter user named Anne was able to improvise, though, and in a hilarious way. Maybe pictures of colleagues stuck onto the side of Kleenex boxes is the future of working from home.
21. Mexican politician may regret that wardrobe malfunction
In May 2020 Mexican senator Martha Lucia Micher was on a Zoom call with journalists, the Bank of Mexico and other politicians. At one point, she mistakenly believed she had switched her camera off and started to change out of her clothes. When screenshots from the meeting were leaked to social media, Micher issued an apology but also condemned the internet trolls who were having fun at her expense.
20. All dressed up and nobody to Zoom
Educational consultant Tanya K. Keeny discovered a simple joy in September 2020 when she logged onto a Zoom call with one of her students. She apparently now had some free time. Why? Because the student didn’t bother to show up for the session. In the end, Keeny was all dressed up with no one to Zoom.
19. Jennifer, what are you doing?!
“Poor Jennifer” trended worldwide on social media in March when an embarrassing video emerged. In the middle of a Zoom conference, a female worker began to move around her home with the camera still on. She eventually sat on the toilet and only turned the camera off when she had the horrifying realization that her co-workers could see her. While many observers laughed, others naturally felt the colleague who leaked the video should have been ashamed of themselves.
18. Just a wrong class, wrong country kind of situation
School and university classes worldwide became virtual affairs in 2020, with students being given codes to sign themselves into their exclusive lectures. But a funny video emerged in March of a semi-annoyed American teacher talking with a British man named Michael who had mistakenly logged into her class. It was a comedy of errors as she kept politely encouraging him to leave, but he couldn’t figure out how to end his session.
17. Somebody getting a weave
This Zoom call went wrong, but in the best possible way. In the video, we see a professor from Memphis preparing himself to teach his class, when he notices one of the students is getting her hair styled. The teacher proclaims, “Is somebody getting a weave? Girl, get over here and do my hair!”
16. Maybe not the best time to roll a joint, buddy
Being in your home surroundings – while on a Zoom call – can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to forget that you are actually being watched by other people. So you can’t do exactly what you may normally do at home. One guy found this out when he absent-mindedly rolled a joint in full view of his classmates and professors. And of course, the video was then plastered all over social media.
15. Zoom backgrounds are endless fun
At a certain point, it became obvious that many people using Zoom were desperate to find the background that would amuse their friends and family the most. This led to the tech-savvy being able to put themselves in front of gorgeous high-definition animated settings. But it also led to others – such as this poor Kansas teacher – blending into the background and looking like The Half-Invisible Woman.
14. T-shirt or green screen
One of the funny quirks of Zoom is that – every now and again – the software will think something is a green screen. And that’s even if it’s just the T-shirt you’re wearing as you sit down for a call. It therefore transforms the clothing into a kind of living special effect. This, in turn, makes your head and neck look like they are sitting atop a flat, two-dimensional T-shirt outline. Weird.
13. Walking in on yourself during a Zoom call is such a power move
This extremely clever video went viral on social media and gave Australian content creator Dan Crowd 15 minutes of fame. He created a uniquely hilarious background that would then be imitated by countless people online. The video showed Crowd accidentally walking in on himself while on a Zoom call, and it’s guaranteed to make you giggle.
12. Cats love Zoom
This hilarious meme made cat owners everywhere burst out laughing. A Twitter user named Amanda posted a screenshot of people on a Zoom call, along with the caption, “How I imagine pretty much every video conference meeting is going for anyone working from home who has a cat.” In the top right corner there was a moggy – face pressed right up against the camera – completely blocking the person on the call.
11. A hilarious homage
In April television writer Caitie Delaney posted a screenshot of her Zoom background, which brilliantly recreated professor Robert Kelly’s viral family interruption from 2017. Back then, the latter was being interviewed live on the BBC when his toddler daughter entered the room behind him. This was swiftly followed by his son in a baby walker, and then his embarrassed wife who ran in to remove the children. Amazing.
10. I am the toilet paper king
In March 2020 a man called Alex Washburne let it be known that even mathematical biologists have a sense of humor. He posted his custom Zoom background to Twitter and it was a doozy. It came at a time when you, me and everyone else was stockpiling toilet paper like it was going out of fashion.
9. Expectation versus reality
Associate assistant head teacher Bec Tulloch found out – much to her chagrin – that our expectations don’t always match up with reality. She had an idea of what she wanted to look like during her Zoom call and posted a picture on Twitter. Amusingly, though, she also posted a screenshot from the call, which was decidedly less flattering.
8. Lost for words
In July 2020 Salvation Army officer Callum McKenna posted on Twitter about playing a clip from the TV show Lost for his family Zoom church service. Sounds cool, right? Well, not for Callum, because he didn’t realize the part he’d chosen contained a pretty bad curse word. Uh oh.
7. Wait, how do I stop the video
In October 2019 actress and comedian Niccole Thurman posted a remarkably prescient video on social media. She brilliantly recreated the confused and annoyed expression everyone makes when they are trying to figure out how to stop a video call, which usually happens a split second after a huge grin and happy “Goodbye.” Fast-forward to 2020, and this face was appearing countless times every day all over the world.
6. When co-workers argue on Zoom
An Oregonian social worker posted this hilarious selfie in early October. His fed-up, heard-it-all-before expression said more than words ever could. Apparently, he’d been caught on a Zoom call while some of his colleagues had been arguing, and he wanted nothing more than to stop listening to them. We’ve all been there, buddy.
5. Max cares not for your Zoom call
The Instagram account max_n_otis features clips and photos of a cat and dog living together in Brooklyn, New York. Naturally, they’re super cute and everyone loves them. Max proved that he is just like every other cat in March 2020 when he did his level best to block the camera on his owner’s Zoom call. Our furry friends are just endlessly fascinated by laptops. Specifically, they seem to love sitting on them.
4. Make sure everybody has clothes on
This Zoom call gone horribly wrong featured something that is always going to guarantee a disbelieving laugh: unintentional nudity. It would seem to be obvious that, if you are preparing to log into a call with your university class, you should at least be wearing pants. But in March this poor guy proved that perhaps that notion isn’t as obvious as you may think. Oh dear.
3. Tony’s underwear
“Tony, I can see you in your underwear!” Tony Russell – of Portland country radio station 98.7 The Bull – thought he had it all figured out. He’d got to the end of his April Google Hangout call with colleagues none-the-wiser about his lack of pants. But then he forgot his camera was still on, so when he stood up and moved about his apartment, everyone could see his boxer shorts and pasty legs. Whoops.
2. Hilariously genuine accident or staged stunt, that is the question
This viral video was one of the funniest to emerge in 2020, though many people have since questioned its authenticity. As a woman is on a conference call – speaking in Spanish – a man emerges behind her wearing a soccer jersey and no pants. He realizes what he has done and tries to run away, but bounces off the wall – all while the woman apologizes profusely. Real or fake, it undoubtedly raises a smile.
1. The ‘I Love Intercourse’ snafu
In March designer and writer Bex found out that, when it comes to Zoom calls, even our drinking cups are out to get us. She posted on Twitter that she was on a conference call with her directors, managers and VP when she went to take a sip from her trusty cup. Lifting it up to the camera, she realized that it said, “I Love Intercourse.” Send the comet now.