When the comedy show’s host introduced Brandon Davidson onstage to perform at a company’s Christmas party last week in Wichita, Kansas, Davidson was met with yelling.
The crowd full of construction workers started shouting, “Let’s Go Brandon,” a chant that conservatives have taken on to mean “Fuck Joe Biden.” The crowd chanted it for over a minute, Davidson told BuzzFeed News.
“The mic was in the mic stand and I just stood there,” Davidson said. “My face was completely neutral and I just sort of let it wash over me.”
Brandons all over the world are now having to deal with the reality that their name is being used to insult the president of the United States. After an Oct. 2 NASCAR race, when driver Brandon Brown was being interviewed by Kelli Stavast, an NBC Sports reporter, the crowd behind them began chanting “Fuck Joe Biden.” Either on purpose or by accident, Stavast suggested to Brown that they were cheering “Let’s Go Brandon” to support him. The mix-up turned into an inside joke for conservative groups and was picked up by elected Republican officials. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott both referenced it in tweets, and Republican Rep. Bill Posey said it on the House floor. The chant has even been turned into songs and appeared on clothing.
Davidson, who first heard “Let’s Go Brandon” from an audience member at another comedy show a few months ago, said he tried to play it off at the Christmas party in Wichita with a joke.
“I talked to one guy in the crowd and played ignorant, and was like, hey, what does that even mean?” Davidson said. “And the guy beside him was like, ‘Oh, it means ‘Fuck Joe Biden.’ And I was like, oh, very cool. But you’re a guy with a handlebar mustache — can’t you just say 'fuck Joe Biden'?”
The phrase was also parodied in a Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live in November. Kyle Mooney, one of the cast members, played a guy named Brandon who is happy with all the attention until he realizes it’s not for him.
Brandon Valentin, who lives in Portland, Oregon, said he had a similar experience.
“I remember when I first saw it, I was like, ‘Hell, yeah, my name’s Brandon, let’s go — where are we going?’ Until I found out,” Valentin told BuzzFeed News.
Valentin said he has seen a few half-ripped-off bumper stickers with the slogan on it in Portland, but when he lived in Phoenix, he saw plenty of flags hanging off pickup trucks with the phrase.
He said it’s “frustrating” seeing his name used in that context because even though he identifies as liberal, he has his own critique of the president and did not want to be associated with an insult conservatives use against Biden.
“It’s a dog whistle,” Valentin said about the phrase. “[People who use the phrase] know that they’re egregiously racist. They know they’re a hateful group of people and they don’t want to be perceived to be right-wing Nazis more or less by the general public.”
Not everyone knows about the phrase and its meaning, however. When Valentin and Brandon Hsiu, another Brandon who lives in Los Angeles, both told friends about this interview, the friends didn’t know what they were talking about.
“To be fair, my friend is a little more offline,” Valentin said. “I’m not surprised that he wouldn’t see that.”
Brandon Meyer, who also lives in Los Angeles, doesn’t hear the joke too often except when friends from high school say something to him.
“For certain people, I laugh and go, ‘Ha-ha, that’s funny, ass,’” Meyer told BuzzFeed News. “I just hate that it’s there.”
Hsiu, who calls himself a “struggling” content creator, is only worried that the slogan might mess up the Google search results for his name.
“I don’t really understand why conservatives have to use a coded name when they say they don’t like Biden,” Hsiu told BuzzFeed News. “For me and my friends, we are pretty progressive with our politics and we critique Biden all the time. … We don’t care about coding his name. We’ll just say it as is.”
Brandon Boles, who works in customer service in Estes Park, Colorado, told BuzzFeed News that after the slogan began to gain traction in October, at least one customer per day would make a joke about it to him.
“I don’t get too worked up about it,” Boles said. “I’m not super political, so I’m not really upset or excited that my name is linked to something like that.” ●