Halloween 2022: Salad Fingers creator David Firth on early 2000s internet, 'rusty spoons' and Glasgow for Halloween

Cult animator David Firth on the internet’s love of ‘rusty spoons’, how his surreal animation Salad Fingers stays relevant and why touring Glasgow on Halloween night scares him.

For those old enough to remember the golden age of early 2000’s internet content, the name David Firth will recall encounters with an unearthly character with lettuce-like limbs. Back in 2004, the internet was a young, yet wonderfully absurd place that opened its doors to the strange green fingered creature known simply as Salad Fingers.

The character quickly developed a cult-like following many animators could only dream of.

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"Salad Fingers wasn’t meant to be my main thing,” Firth says. “It was meant to be the short video so people would come to my website and watch the longer videos then we’d eventually move onto some sort of TV series. Back then the internet just felt like something you wouldn’t seriously spend your time watching stuff on."

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Mr Fingers was a creature that moved at snail’s pace, spoke in a quiet, creepy drawl and had an unhealthy obsession with rusty spoons and finger puppets. He offered early internet users a weirdly hypnotic experience that bordered between uncomfortable, yet weirdly addictive.

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Salad Fingers back-to-back screening in Glasgow

Salad Fingers was first created in 2004 and has garnered a cult following ever since. Cr: David Firth

Now, almost 18 years on from Salad Fingers’ internet debut, cult animator Firth is bringing his masterpiece to Glasgow’s Glee Club for a special Halloween screening.

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"Last time I played Glasgow, I could only eat in McDonald’s, which is terrifying,” he says, as he recalls his last visit to Glasgow. “There were 18-19-year-olds just rolling around on the floor drinking Irn-Bru and vodka I think – because no one is just drinking pop at 11pm.”

But despite his Big Mac-induced nightmare, the animator could not be more excited to spend his Halloween night in Glasgow showing off his most popular creations.

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"Actually, last time I was in Glasgow it was one of the better shows I’ve done because people were really into it,” he says. “I normally give a bit of background on Salad Fingers in my introduction to save people asking the question of how I got started and people were laughing as if I was doing a stand-up set. There weren’t even any jokes in it – people were just eager to have a laugh. Other places tend to be complete silence. It’s a fun crowd to bounce off.”

It feels apt the screening should take place on October 31. After all, Firth’s creation has been known to bring on nightmares, although he admits Salad Fingers is not something he would fit into the horror genre.

"I never set out to scare people and the idea of horror is you want to be scared, but I’m more interested in just ‘dark’ themes,” he says. “To me the aesthetic of horror is nothing to do with frightening you, it is more just appreciating darkness.

Chris Morris inspiration and standing the test of time

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"I would never call it horror – just dark comedy – because then it gives you the freedom to just have a bit of fun. You can drop some horror elements in, but there’s no pressure to scare people. I feel like a lot of horror films fall into that. You’ve called it a horror film, so you’ve now got pressure to scare everyone and if it doesn’t work, it comes off as cheesy.

"To me, that’s always been my sense of humour, but it isn’t unique, I’ve spotted it in other places as well. I was influenced by South Park, The Simpsons, and Beavis and Butthead and Chris Morris. He’s [Chris Morris] someone a lot of youngsters won’t have heard of and won’t realise how important he is to comedy."

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However, much like Firth’s inspirations, his brand of dark humour has also stood the test of time, with his animations like Salad Fingers and Burnt Face Man still garnering thousands of views – and even venturing onto TikTok.

"There wasn’t YouTube or a lot of video content on the internet at the time,” he says. “It didn’t feel like people would sit down and watch stuff on the internet. It was just all about getting people’s attention, so people watched other things. In my mind, I was going to do feature films or half-hour cartoons. I’m absolutely not interested in doing an idea that has already been done.

"Salad Fingers lives in a world that is so disconnected from reality that there are no cultural references. I thought if he didn’t mention anything modern day, or he had no modern day humour, then I think that is the key to it.”

"Don’t be influenced by the modern world”

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Firth adds: "Views didn’t equal money back then. Views just equalled numbers and then you can maybe sell some t-shirts if they stick around. I wasn’t focusing on it’s success, it was more just making another one before this one burns out. I think I did about four or five before I slowed down because I didn’t want to be just the Salad Fingers guy.

"When you’re online, you’re not looking at numbers. If I was in a stadium and could see all the people who watched Salad Fingers, then I might have thought ‘OK, this is pretty big’. But you can’t visualise it with just numbers.

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"Don’t be influenced by the modern world, because it changes so quick, things get stale. People get sick of things really quickly because they get over copied. Don’t copy modern humour and you’ll be fine."

Tickets for David Firth’s screening of Salad Fingers and Q&A are on sale here, with the show scheduled to start at 7pm.

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