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Overnight internet fame was not what Josh Saunders was expecting at the end of the year. His life changed dramatically when the dance teacher from Sunbury, Victoria, gave the world the greatest reaction meme ever.
He shot to internet superstardom when his shocked, open-mouthed expression was featured in a 2015 promotional clip for the 2016 season of Australia’s Got Talent.
Television network Channel Nine dropped the first teaser for the new season on of the hugely popular competition series on 30th December and Josh stole the show with his wide-eyed expression as he mouthed the words ‘what the?’
'Promo guy' as Josh is now known, was transformed into a meme, with his face copied and pasted onto other images to create hilarious scenarios and there were countless Reddit threads.
Josh was likened to Beaker from The Muppets, the fish-inspired Pokémon Magikarp and the character Edward Bighead from the cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life and a meme called 'ermahgerd girl' which features a girl with a striking resemblance to Josh.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia the day after the promotional clip was released, Josh joked that his facial expressions “have always been one of my fallback traits.”
He said: “Why would they put this mug on TV?”
While his friends weren’t fussed about about newfound fame, Josh joked at the time about becoming the latest viral star.
“They say that the camera adds 45 kilos, well I think I got the raw end of the bloody stick, darl.”
Josh was a member of the audience during one of the live tapings for Australia’s Got Talent and believe it or not, he has remained tight-lipped about which performance led to his iconic reaction.
And with the arrival of every internet phenomenon comes conspiracy theories, and in Josh's case lots of viewers online theorised he had been hired by Channel Nine to promote the Australia’s Got Talent.
Josh later rubbished the claims on Channel Nine’s Today Show. “Hh well, I’m always looking for a job,” he quipped when asked by the breakfast show’s hosts.
Josh also revealed he was completely unaware that his reactions were being filmed. “Oh God no, I had Heidi Klum to my left and Brad Pitt to my right and they picked me to film,
"It was one hundred per cent spontaneity I was lucky enough to get some tickets to view some students that were on the show, like I said luck of the draw they picked me."
Josh has mostly kept a low profile since his unexpected rise to fame. He was interviewed by the YouTube channel Pedestrian TV in 2020 where he reflected on his GIF becoming recognised worldwide.
Thank you for your service, Josh!
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