Air quotes are those virtual question marks we make with both sets of pointer and ring fingers to emphasize a phrase or word.
Ex. Pete isn’t my friend anymore because he’s the kinda guy that has a public (air quotes) urination (end air quotes) problem.
AIR QUOTES BY NUMBERS.
In the course of a year a human being will use air quotes 8.5 times. 90% of those moments will be for ironic or sarcastic humor, while the straggling ten will actually be for something important.
AIR QUOTE BEGINNINGS
Historians note that the 2nd most annoying gesture of mankind (Jazz hands being first) occurred as early as 1927. The incident was reported in an edition of Science magazine .
The article went on to describe a woman who used air quotes as a way to inform people the phrase she was saying did not originate from herself. A slight variation from the current usage. However, even though the gesture was described it did not have a name attached to it. That honor would have to wait until a SPY magazine article in 1989. Here’s exactly how it was mentioned.
"When Bob and Betty describe themselves in these ways, they raise the middle and forefingers of both hands, momentarily forming twitching bunny ears - air quotes, the quintessential contemporary gesture that says We're not serious."
Today pop culture has had an on again off again love affair with the use of air quotes. Right now I'd say we've been on a break for at least a year and a half.
CLASSIC AIR QUOTE MOMENTS IN RECENT HISTORY.
Bennett Brauer (aka Chris Farley), SNL
Obama vs. McCain
Dr. Evil and his freakin’ lasers.
Friends (Joey and Ross)
Not sure if this one is socially relevant, but what the hey.
Apparently Steve Martin used ‘em in his stand up shows, but I couldn't find a clip. (air quotes) Sorry (end air quotes).