Talking About Twitter with ‘The Onion’ Senior Editor Jason Roeder

RoederJason Roeder lives in Chicago and is the senior editor of The Onion, previously having worked as a staff/senior writer at The Onion and as a writer/producer for AdultSwim.com. Roeder has also written, edited, and co-written several books and contributed to places like The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and more. Recently I got the chance to ask Roeder about three of his favorite tweets, and he talked to me about introversion, cashiers, and remembering exactly where he’s tweeted stuff before.

Roeder: I kind of envy people who know all their neighbors because I’m an introvert who will delay leaving my apartment if I hear someone across the hall leaving at the same time. You know, instead of just saying hello or introducing myself like a person that isn’t instinctively terrified of other humans.

I feel like introversion is really at home on Twitter since it’s pretty solitary for a social media. Are there other emotions or personality traits that you think come across really well on Twitter?

I’m not sure. I do sometimes get the sense that I’m in the presence of 300 million people overexerting themselves—to be seen, to be discovered, to be invited into one of Twitter’s inner circles. And I’m one of them, of course, so I try to approach Twitter with a healthy amount of detachment.

Do you notice yourself writing jokes differently when they’re for Twitter vs for longer pieces?

These days, the only other place I’m typically writing jokes is at my job at The Onion, which has a very, very specific voice. I’ve tried reshaping rejected Onion headlines into tweets, but it usually doesn’t work, most likely because the joke stunk in its original form.

I remember exactly where I was (outside Wrigley Field) and what I was (a little drunk) when I wrote this. Weirdly, I don’t remember why specifically I wrote it, though I stand by it. There’s no such thing as an inhibited asshole. The terrible ones always find a way to express themselves.

Can you remember the time/place/state you were in for a lot of your tweets or is that pretty rare?

Not really. I’m mostly just a person that goes into work, turns around, and goes home, so I guess there’s a lot of subway tweeting. Of course, I’m assuming a historical trail dedicated to my feed will one day stop at locations I’ve tweeted from, so I’ll leave the final answers to researchers a hundred years from now.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about Twitter?

I like having this ticker of jokes that’s entirely mine, in my voice. Collaboration’s great—The Onion‘s built on it—but sometimes it’s good when there’s nobody standing in the way of your godawful ideas and played-out observations.

There’s truly nothing worse than an able-bodied customer that’s just standing there and letting groceries pile up at the end of the checkout line, but I tried imagining what this monster might be like.

A lot of my favorite tweets of yours are about being a bad customer to cashiers and servers. Is that more of a joke formula you found or something you just think about a lot?

I didn’t even realize I wrote so many tweets like this! I guess cashiers and servers are the people you see being pushed around most in public, and that makes me crazy. Also, it’s a nice, easily replenished construct for hacks.

Are there other formulas or themes that you like to revisit in tweets?

I’m honestly not sure. Anytime I make a joke or observation that doesn’t make me immediately feel like I should be shaken off the surface of the world, I’m pretty happy. That happens twice a week or so.

Jenny Nelson writes and lives in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.

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