Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Twitter Can't Be Bad for Comedy…Right?

Twitter: rejuvenating the field of comedy, leveling the playing field for all, sharpening comedians' writing skills. OR IS IT? This debate between comics Christian Finnegan and Megan Amram has convinced (as of this writing) 18% of voters that the site is not a boon but a boil on the backside of comedy. More specifically, Finnegan argues that Twitter fosters a narrow definition of comedy and hurts writers whose talents don't skew towards short, punchy jokes. Go read both sides of the debate and then report back: has Finnegan changed your mind a little bit, too?

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  • J.R.

    Let's face it, if you're Woody Allen- twitter is probably right up your alley. Otherwise, if you're not a honed and polished one-liner-writer, you're better off posting rants on Facebook.

    On the other hand, I like that we've begun to see the re-emergence of "joke writers" of the old fashioned variety. It probably started with Mitch Hedberg, but now you've got Anthony Jeselnik, John Mulaney, etc- that are skilled in the old art of "set em up, knock em down." I see this as a good thing, and part of the natural ebb and flow of comedy styles. Just like music fluctuates back and forth between pop fluff (early 60s, the 80s, the 2000s) and overly serious technical songwritery stuff (late 60s, 70s, 90s) – comedy also seems to be jumping back and forth between joke tellers, and rambling raconteurs. I think it's a good thing. No art gets left behind.

  • http://greathouseofhumor.blogspot.com Greathouse of Humor

    Twitter's just one avenue for comedy writers. Write a blog post if you prefer the story-telling type of humor. Twitter is also good practice for someone who maybe isn't great at short, punchy jokes. Rob Delaney was on a podcast talking about how he started using Twitter to exercise his "short game." I guess it might have worked out for him, he's just touring the country now. Twitter definitely helped bring attention to him that he may have no received otherwise.

  • JasonDFarr@twitter

    Look at Twitter and Conan. He has said something Megan said in her argument. Having to speak in 140 characters forces you to hone. Conan writes one a day. It's very different than what is on his show. He's got more followers than his show has viewers. So having a lot of followers doesn't really mean much. For Christian (who I think brought up smart arguments – better ones than she did – I just ultimately disagree with him) but for Christian to say it hurts comedy because a friend of his was turned down for work because they don't have enough followers isn't strong, really. That's not a universally the attitude. Plenty of producers won't care. Plus, it's not all a comedian is doing. If comedy became Twitter, that would be bad. But Twitter is just another thing comics do. Which means they are learning to write in a new way. That's a GOOD thing. Plus, his argument was short-sighted in that he seemed to only be talking about stand up comedy. Comedy is more than stand up. It's satire, it's sitcoms, it's sketch, it's improv, it's comic strips! It's so many things. Those satirical political comic strips haven't hurt comedy. And they're an image and less than 140 characters.

  • Luap Namgreb@twitter

    Cars are bad for carriage makers! Twitter is a game changer for new comics. If your established you may be able to afford to say Twitter or other social media ain't my thing. Since I started using witstream and twitter I've gone to a lot more comedy shows and bought a lot more records from comedians I never would have heard about before. People love to laugh. They'll pay you to make them laugh. They'll pay you more if they're excited to see their favorite funny guy/girl from twitter than some random comic they never heard of before. Audiences are not going to rebel against you because you're not reciting your twitter feed. Twitter can be your marketing department. If a producer criticizes you because your marketing department sucks then fix it or show them how your marketing works. You're responsible for your own success and twitter is a useful tool in getting your name out there and building goodwill and word of mouth.