In 2003, parody versions of G.I. Joe PSAs from the 1980s cartoon took over the internet. 20 years on, they’re still funny as hell.


If you’re an ’80s kid, you probably watched the G.I. Joe animated series. And if you did, you probably remember the short public service announcements that were part of the program. They covered topics from fire safety to stranger danger and starred characters from the series alongside kids like us. It’s where the iconic “…and knowing his half the battle” catchphrase comes from.


In 2003, new versions of these iconic G.I. Joe PSAs started popping up on a website called Fenslerfilm. They were edited by Chicago-based writer and director Eric Fensler, with overdubs provided by his friends. The humor was surreal and esoteric, and in a pre-YouTube internet, they would become an inspiration and a prototype of sorts for the decades of comedy-based viral content yet to come.


The Fensler G.I. Joe PSAs: A Fan’s Oral History

I was lucky enough to have a younger brother (Nate) with a web-savvy friend (John) back in 2003. John stumbled on Fensler’s website and the PSAs and they became our obsession for the bulk of that year. I reached out to both of the lads to get their memories of the PSAs and that period of internet history. I’ve shared our conversation below, and all of the G.I. Joe PSAs, of course.


Adam: I’m working on a 20th anniversary piece for the Fensler G.I. Joe PSAs. When you get a minute, hit me back with some thoughts/memories you have of them and that time period. Gonna put it together like an oral history.

John: Ahahaha that’s fantastic! I’ll drop some memories in a bit. But right now I gotta Help Computer…

Nate: That’s awesome dude! My main memory was when we caught on to it they were still dropping new ones randomly, and once John called me up at home and was like: “Dude, they just dropped a new Fensler! I’m coming over!” And we shot up to your old bedroom in the attic where the computer was and we didn’t “stop all the downloading” lol (jk) and it was the “Hey whoa whoa yeeeeeah!” one and we were just dying watching it over and over. So much fun! And John eventually burned a DVD of all the PSAs that I still have and cherish to this day.


John: Ahahah dude that memory is so vivid! We watched it like 50 times! Yeah, I don’t know how we figured out when he was gonna drop them on what day. My other memory is we were at our friend Sean’s mom’s house when a bunch of people lived there and I forget who showed me the first batch of them, but I was the lost kid at the carnival one and I remember laughing so fucking hard at how funny and absurd they were. And yeah, before the days when it was easy to find them online I put them on DVD so we’d have them all in once place.

Adam: These are so great! I still have the DVD, too. Gonna break it out and show it to the kids this weekend. And I remember that anticipation and excitement so well. Pre-YouTube, pre-social media. There was no way to know when a new one was coming. Which made it so much more exciting when we finally got one!


John: Exactly! And I was so bummed when they were over. The shirts still fit me!

Adam: I wish mine still did! (Fensler did a limited run of tshirts with four catchphrases on them. I own them all.)

John: Those shirts are ultra rare now! Probably make hella cash on eBay. Though I don’t think I’d ever sell mine. It’s a piece of internet history!

Nate: What a wild time that was! Dudes, we came up at the best time, the literal birth of the viral internet. Pretty awesome.


Pretty awesome indeed. Thanks to Nate and John for the memories. And thanks to Eric Fensler for the PSAs. Let’s watch them.

  • PSA 1: Carnival

    Gotta respect Fensler for working in the fart humor right off the bat.

  • PSA 2: Nosebleed

    I used the “blanco nino” clip from this one on WBCN pretty regularly.

  • PSA 3: Body Massage

    20 years on, and I’ll still randomly blurt out “Mr. Body Massage Machine GO!” when I’m alone at home.

  • PSA 4: Fire On Your Sleeve

    Redefining “stop, drop and roll.”

  • PSA 5: Skier

    “Give him the stick…DON’T GIVE HIM THE STICK!” is just one of a handful of quotables in this gem.

  • PSA 6: Kids Fry

    Eric Fensler wasn’t above vaporizing young kids for a laugh.

  • PSA 7: Porkchop Sandwiches

    Maybe the most popular catchphrase to come out of the entire series of PSAs.

  • PSA 8: Slip

    Sometimes short and sweet is all you need.

  • PSA 9: 1, 2, 3, Errrr...

    Other times, dragging out the joke is where the real comedy comes from.

  • PSA 10: Reggae

    “BUS RIDER” made it onto a tshirt. It was yellow with black lettering and it was beautiful. Jah bless.

  • PSA 11: Israeli Jet Fighters

    The creativity on these is almost overwhelming. Perfect use of found sound on this one.

  • PSA 12: Car Accident

    The aforementioned “Hey whoa whoa yeeeeeah!”

  • PSA 13: The Pink Purse

    I think there’s more than cigarettes in that pink purse…

  • PSA 14: I Just Wanna Ride My Motorcylce

    If you’re asking if I can still sing this song word-for-word 20 years on, the answer is: yes.”

  • PSA 15: Help Computer

    “Hey kid! I’m a computer! Stop all the downloadin’! Help computer…” Iconic.

  • PSA 16: Swimming

    “If I was in that water? Dead.” I’m dead from laughing at this one.

  • PSA 17: I Wanna Get In The Fridge Too

    A lot of these cross the line from weirdly funny to weirdly creepy. This is one.

  • PSA 18: Pimp

    It’s the less-obvious quote here that is the standout for me: “It’s such a wonderful experience here with the Indian.”

  • PSA 19: Fire Alarm

    Speaking of quotes, this one has what might be my favorite: “Eh, you know it’s funny, these people they go to sleep, they think everything’s fine, everything’s good…they wake up the next day and they’re on fire!”

  • PSA 20: Dockside Bars

    Mom has some explaining to do.

  • PSA 21: Water Skiing

    The pacing and timing on this one is just incredible.

  • PSA 22: Mr. LaFitte

    Sure, Fensler is working with gay stereotypes here. But it doesn’t come across in a bad way, at least to me.

  • PSA 23: Japanese

    Yes, the overdub is actually in Japanese. No, I don’t know what they’re actually saying. I don’t need to; it’s funny either way.

  • PSA 24: Buzz Lightyear

    The Buzz Lightyear reference still slays.

  • PSA 25: Dance


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