The Primate Awards

This post was originally published in October 2013. New post coming soon.
Being the celebrity species, humans rarely give a second thought to other species, even those in their own family. They spend almost no time with their immediate family—the Great Apes—and they barely even know the names of their extended family, the rest of the primates. Some humans go so far as to flat out deny any relation to their siblings and cousins.
But the fact is, there are 423 other species in the primate order, each of them currently existing and doing something, and we can’t ignore them forever.
To bring some rare attention to our forgotten roots, we’re hosting the first annual Primate Awards. Winners will receive either a banana bunch or a grasshopper, depending on their species’ diet.

The Primate Awards

Most Theatrical Primate


Winner: The Sifaka



It’s unclear whether the sifaka knows that he’s not actually on a stage and that no one is actually watching him. But his thirst to perform is unquenchable.

Primate in the Most Despair


Winner: The Colobus


On any given day, at any given moment, whatever you’re doing, somewhere out there the colobus is in total despair. We hoped winning this award might cheer him up, but it only made him more crestfallen.

Primate Who Would Be Most Shocked If You Gave Them a Mirror

Winner: The Mandrill

The Mandrill thinks he looks like this:

And why would he assume otherwise? Those are normal monkey colors, and as far as he knows, he’s a normal monkey.

But he actually looks like a clown:

No one has had the guts to say something to him yet, which is probably for the best.

Primate With the Most Vacation Days

Winner: The Japanese Macaque

Every time I see these guys, they’re in the fucking hot tub. Not sure how they pulled this off, but they’ve really got it all worked out.

Primate That Could Kind of Pass for an Unattractive, Dumb, Weird-Acting Human

Winner: The Bonobo

Bonobos are very close to being dumb humans. Look at this dude roasting marshmallows like it’s no big deal.

Primate That Would Look Normal Except One Ridiculous Feature Ruins Everything

Joint Winners: The Proboscis Monkey and The Uakari
Let’s start with the proboscis monkey.

Check out the pictures below. Pretty normal monkey, right?


Now check out the uakari. Before you scroll down, try to picture what a normal head might look like.

Whatever you pictured, I guarantee it was not a tiny red human fetus head:

Disturbing, right? It literally looks like a sixth grader photoshopped a goblin head on top of a monkey photo for a Halloween card.

Sassiest Primate

Winner: The Baby Orangutan

The baby orangutan stunned everyone by taking home the award this year, especially the white-cheeked gibbon, who was unavailable for comment.

Primate You’d Want Around Your Daughter the Least

Winner: The Patas Monkey

That’s not really a face you ever expect to see on a non-human, and it makes the patas monkey the last primate you want anywhere near your daughter. We’d all prefer not to know what goes on in the dark corners of the patas monkey’s mind.

Most Appalled Primate

Winner: The Indri

You’d think by now the indri would have gotten used to the way things are, but he’s still appalled by everything.

Most Artistically Tortured Primate

Winner: The Cotton-Top Tamarin

Narrowly edging out the red-faced spider monkey for the victory, the cotton-top tamarin is a Beethoven-level musical genius, but no one has noticed.

Primate With the Most Excessive Face

Winner: The Alpha Male Orangutan

Christ, alpha male orangutan, get ahold of yourself. This is what happens when evolution is left completely unregulated. For male orangutans, the bigger the face, the better chance of getting laid—and now the male orangutan population has out-faced each other into total absurdity.

Biggest Disaster of a Primate

Winner: This Particular Alpha Male Orangutan

The only primate to win two awards today, this particular alpha male orangutan is just an utter disaster.

Most Cartoon-Like Primate


Winner: The Tarsier

First, let’s take a second to recognize the runner-up, the hapless slow loris.

Moving onto the winner, we have the primates’ joke species, the tarsier—

This is the package the tarsier is presenting us with today, apparently finding no need to act like a legitimate creature.

Mafia Boss of the Primates


The gorilla seems like the obvious choice here, right?

Well it turns out that the gorilla is only the henchman for the real mafia boss.

Winner: The Ring-Tailed Lemur


Most Awkward Color Difference Between Parent and Child

Winner: The Silver Langur


Whenever you’re with a silver langur, the elephant in the room is that her child is a bright orange, sphere-headed creature blatantly not of the same species. The Silver Langur refuses to acknowledge that anything is weird about the situation, and the rest of us know to just not bring it up.

Primate Most Like an Irish Mythical Character


Winner: The Golden Lion Tamarin

So now we have the elf, the leprechaun, and this little orange gnome of a monkey who sometimes gives you the finger. I would say that owning one would be my ultimate fantasy, but…

Primate I Want to Own More Than I Want Anything Else in the World


Winner: The Pygmy Marmoset


Are you fucking kidding me with this shit? When I discovered pictures of this creature, I fell deep into a Wikipedia spiral about them, learning among other things that the pygmy marmoset, or finger monkey, is A) smart, even for a monkey, B) lives 12 years or more, and C) can jump up to 16 feet.

Living with one would be a dream. Just imagine having dinner together, him at the table in a tiny high chair. Or being together on an airplane, him strapped into a one-inch seatbelt in the seat next to you. You’d tuck him in at night into his bed made from an Altoid tin. This is now the only thing that matters to me.

Primate Most Identical to Meryl Streep


Winner: The Lesula Monkey


Scientists were shocked when in 2007, they discovered this previously unknown monkey that looks and acts exactly like Meryl Streep.

Primate Most Identical to Michael Jackson

Winner: The Snub-Nosed Monkey
Fucked up, right?

Primate Most Identical to George W. Bush

Winner: The Macaque


Moving on…

Most Embarrassing Primate


Winner: The White-Faced Saki


A true loser, the white-faced saki is someone all primates are ashamed to admit is part of their family. His relatives are also pretty sick of his face looking so detached from the rest of his body. And just when everyone thought things couldn’t get worse, he decided to grow a goatee.

Best Disney Movie Bad Guy Primate

Winner: The Gelada

No photoshopping here—there’s actually a distant cousin of yours that looks that evil. As if his intensely sinister face wasn’t enough, he’s actually wearing a bad guy overcoat at all times.

Primate Most Going Through a Terrible Struggle that No One Else Understands


Winner: The Aye-Aye


No one knows what the aye-aye’s issue is, but he’s really going through some shit. The gollum of the primate world might have an intense paranoia problem, but it also could be that he knows some horrible truth the rest of us don’t. For now, probably a good guy to stay away from.

If you’ve had enough looking in the mirror for today and want to laugh at someone else’s family, see the Wait But Why posts on bunnies, bugs, and birds.

  • Hahahaha! This is amazing! The pic of the “sassy” baby orangutan killed me 🙂 Great post

  • Anonymous

    Tears of laughter. Such great picture choices. Next stop bunnies.

  • Brilliant post once again. thank you!

  • I usually love your stuff and this article was great too until–rapiest? Rapey? Why is that something to make light of? Why would you even go there?

    • Anonymous

      give me a fucking break

    • If he didn’t look so rapey, I wouldn’t have had to use that word. In any case, it turns out there was an even more accurate description.

    • Unfortunately, there’s no better adjective for what he’s describing here than “rapey.” (while “murderous” can be used to describe the homicidal tendency, there is no parallel descriptive for the word “rape”). And while “rapey” (or “rapiest”) may not be an actual word, I think that “Mr. Wait But Why” has consistently made effective (and appropriate) use of this neologism both here and in a number of his other posts (very notably the one about creepy kids in creepy ads, wherein he describes ads featuring “roly-poly rosey-cheeked rapey-looking four-year-old boys”).

    • Anonymous

      If you are offended there are many other blogs to read. It is unfortunate that the author caved from one complaint. This kind of shaming is a form of censorship. If someone had said, “Hey, I don’t like her quasi-smile” should da Vinci have repainted the Mona Lisa?

    • Very true. Commenters yell at me a lot and I’m usually very uncavey about it. This time it was mostly cause I decided I liked the new description more anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I love your posts every week. Every Tuesday a few of us at the office get together and read them together for a good laugh. Makes for a good Tuesday.

    • That both makes me happy and stressed out cause it’s extra dickish now if I post late.

  • Laughed out loud and referenced this post on Gunsmoke and Knitting. Meryl Streep made me choke.

  • I think I want to be a japanese snow monkey now

  • Please somebody do something with the face of the Uakari… NOW!!!

  • Hello Wait but Why! 😀
    As a matter of fact I am writing an English essay in high school (in Denmark) about your article “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy” I myself is a generation Y Yuppie, so it was very interesting to read for me, and yet I was provoked by your way of referring to my generation.. But after reading it i figured it was a great wake-up-call. Thank you!

    Anyway: My actual question for you is, are you male or female?
    – Because it is hard to tell from your artist name, and i need to refer to you not only by this name. (: Please just give me a quick answer, I myself am female.

    • When you said you were writing an essay on the article and then you said you had a question I was all nervous it was gonna be a hard question, but that was incredibly easy. I’m male. Good luck with the essay!

    • Thank you so much! 😀 (I thought so) ;D Keep up the good work!

  • LOL. Me likey!!

  • Hilarious post BUT as a primatologist: PLEASE DO NOT PROMOTE HAVING NONHUMAN PRIMATES AS PETS. They do not make good pets and there are many other reasons that make it a bad idea (animal well-being, conservation, the heinous aspects of the primate pet trade, etc. etc.). Thank you!!

    • What about having human primates as pets?

  • That finger monkey is choo cute that I’m gonna die!! 😀

  • Anonymous

    The Aye Aye is actually a marsupial, not a primate. Thats is all.

    • Lemur primatologist

      Don’t post inaccurate information in a know-it-all tone. The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a strepsirrhine primate in either the infraorder lemuriformes, or it’s own monotypic infraorder chiromyiformes, and lives in Madagascar with all of its closest relatives, the lemurs.

  • This post made me cry laughing. My ten year old couldn’t understand why until she saw the mafia-boss one, and she was all ‘OMG MOM THAT TOTALLY LOOKS LIKE POP!”. (my dad, aka goon in a suit)

  • Anonymous

    You make learning fun.
    Visual, entertaining fun… Wish school was like that. I’d bring you an apple every day! Thanks so much madly amusing one!

  • So I read this post and decided that a Pygmy Marmoset would be a pretty sweet side kick. These guys don’t sell Pygmys but a baby regular Marmoset might make a decent substitute. Now I just need to Google tiny high Chairs.!marmosets/c3t5

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  • David O.

    Marmosets might look sweet, and pygmy ones sweetest of all. BUT, big but here, their urine stinks incredibly bad. Owning one would be a nightmare unless you and everyone in your household has no sense of smell. Half of the Americas pavilion at our zoo reeks because of marmoset pee.

  • David O.

    Several of these animals have “True facts about the . . . ” videos done by Ze Frank on youtube.
    Check them out, they are hilarious.
    True Facts about the Aye Aye and Tarsier leap to mind.

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  • MommyMoMo

    This is great, got here from your procrastination post link. But you should not link to your bunny post, that one’s kind of a dud.

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  • Chickykid

    Considering that you just came back from Japan, land of the I don’t get how everything can be so darn cute, you have to watch Pan-kun and James:

    Sorry, no subs but I think you get the picture. He’s got plenty more vids.

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  • ANON

    If you look into it, you’ll find that we have no recordings of how a sifaka acts when not being watched. Scary uh?

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