The poster who became a meme: a week-long saga

How a third-year student channeled his Overheard experiences into absurdist theatre

Vassos in character as the fictional CEO of Tilt.

Over the past week, David Vassos, ArtSci ’20, has garnered campus-wide attention for posting a series of memes in Overheard at Queen’s, a Facebook group with over 30,000 members. Although the posts ultimately led to his removal from the group, Vassos used the attention to stage an absurdist play on Wednesday to honour the ordeal.

Vassos rose to social media fame for his memes about Tilt, a once-popular crowdfunding app that found a home at Queen’s until it was purchased by Airbnb in 2017. Despite the app’s scrapping, it continues to haunt campus as a chalk advertisement near Mac-Corry Hall that reads: “Tilt CEO Talk [at] Dunning Aud Wed [sic] 5:30 PM.” The long-standing mystique of this mysterious advertisement intrigued Vassos, inspiring him to create and share his first Tilt-related post in the Overheard group on Nov. 6. 

“The purpose of [the meme] was to poke fun at our campus advertising initiatives from different applications,” Vassos told The Journal. “I found [the chalk advertisement] to be something funny. Why is this [app] that nobody’s talking about still part of Queen’s?”

Vassos continued to make various posts in the group on the subject over the next 24 hours. What began as a joke about Tilt became a test to see how long the bit could last.

The situation came to a head on Nov. 9, when Vassos posted three of his memes to Overheard in rapid succession. While this decision earned him the praise of other members, who began making lighthearted memes about Vassos himself, he was also banned from the Facebook group.

Since his frequent posting violated Overheard’s anti-spam rules, Vassos believed the administrator’s decision to ban him was valid. His online admirers, however, felt differently.

Supporters were quick to create over 20 memes about the injustice of his banning—all within 24 hours—while others took to the group to plead for his return. 

An Overheard administrator took notice of the backlash and reinstated Vassos as a member of the group. But his return to Overheard was short-lived, as he was removed again on the Nov. 10.

An Overheard administrator took notice of the backlash and reinstated Vassos as a member of the group. But his return to Overheard was short-lived, as he was removed again on the Nov. 10.

“I ended up unblocking him,” an Overheard administrator who wished to remain anonymous told The Journal, “but the same [administrator] blocked him again. I just stayed out of it after that.”

The Facebook drama, put into motion by his memes, took Vassos by surprise and intrigued him as an artist. 

“It has been fascinating to see where people have taken [the situation],” he said. “But I feel like it is time for the bit to die.”

Instead of wallowing over his virtual exile, Vassos saw the spotlight placed upon him as “a unique opportunity to do something new and different.” Along with his second banning came the creation of a Facebook event, set to occur Wednesday, Nov. 14, in front of Dunning Hall at 5:30 p.m.—the same place and time featured in the infamous Tilt advertisement near Mac-Corry Hall.

Initially pitched as a rally for David, the event coordinators rebranded the event as a live theatre piece about the fictitious CEO of Tilt titled The Rise and Fall of Tiltus Zuckerbezoz. Within days, hundreds of students said they were attending the event on Facebook, with even more marking they were interested.

“I don’t think I’ve had this much attention on myself or my art ever,” said Vassos two days prior to the event. “I have a YouTube channel where I post my films … I’m a filmmaker so I want people to see my work. This feels bigger than anything else I’ve done.”

“I don’t think I’ve had this much attention on myself or my art ever,” —David Vassos

The event ultimately drew a crowd of 60-75 people, who waited patiently outside of Dunning Hall to witness what Vassos considered his joke’s grand finale.

His performance—which took place on Dunning’s outdoor staircase—featured an eight-piece band, a narrator, supporting characters, and Vassos playing the titular role of Tiltus, Tilt’s imaginary CEO.

Although the show lasted a total of five minutes, the engaged audience cheered, booed, and sang along, laughing as Vassos and his companions fled as soon as their skit was over. 

As Vassos prepared to move on from what he calls “The Tilt Saga,” he mused on the lessons he’ll take away from his experience as a memer-turned-meme-turned artist. 

“I can post dumb memes on a Facebook group and then, because of that, people will show up to watch a short absurdist theatre piece that I put on a week late and start thinking about me,” Vassos said. 

“There’s no limit to how far things can go, I guess.”

—With files from Josh Granovsky


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