Talking to @JamesHartnett About Tweeting in Character and More
James Hartnett is a comedian, writer and actor from Toronto. He’s won a Canadian Comedy Award and worked on shows like Funny As Hell, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, This Is That, That’s So Weird and Sunnyside. Hartnett is a member of the live comedy show Laugh Sabbath, and makes the podcast The Abernathy Zone with Katie Crown. He recently performed at JFL 42 and San Francisco Sketchfest.
This week I asked Hartnett about three of his favorite tweets, and we talked about his top Twitter interaction, the difference between developing characters on Twitter vs in performance, and more.
thought I would surprise father by growing my fingernails long for xmas. what a fool I was to think that would endear me to him.
— James Hartnett (@jameshartnett) December 26, 2014
Hartnett: It’s fun to tweet in a character’s voice. You have to feel bad for this long finger-nailed man. I don’t think his Dad is ever going to ‘get him’.
How are the characters you do on Twitter similar to and different from the ones you do in performance?
I think the characters probably come from the same places. But in a tweet, you don’t have space to spell things out, so a lot of the weird things going on are just being alluded to. In some ways I think that’s more fun. Kind of leaves the details up to the imagination.
Do you have any favorite characters or kinds of characters to revisit in your tweets?
I definitely like the guy in the fingernail tweet who refers to his Dad as ‘Father’. And I’ll jump at any chance to write from the perspective of a man with a ponytail.
bah. just noticed im holding a giant value pack of toilet paper in nearly every one of my dating profile pics. — James Hartnett (@jameshartnett) March 28, 2014
One time I bumped into a girl I really liked while I was carrying a huge pack of toilet paper back from the store. I guess we all have to buy toilet paper, but this didn’t really feel like a cool move on my part.
Was this directly/immediately inspired by that encounter you mention? Do you think one or the other (being quickly inspired to tweet something vs. waiting and writing it out later) is more common for you when tweeting?
Yeah, that’s totally what I was thinking of when I tweeted this. I think most tweets come to me quickly rather than taking the time to plan them out. I can be a bit of an over-thinker, so I think it’s better for me to just go with it sometimes.
What’s your favorite interaction you’ve had on Twitter?
This one. I made a joke about bidets, which upset someone from a bidet store in Chicago. He said he was going to use my last name as a promo code! Being very Canadian, I felt bad about this whole interchange and tried to reassure him that I do actually like bidets.
Little Known Fact: The 'E' in Doug E. Doug, also stood for Doug.
— James Hartnett (@jameshartnett) January 2, 2013
Going with the exact same first and last name seems like a weird choice. There are so many good options out there to choose from. (Like how about Geoff? Or Barry? Or Rene?)
Do you have a favorite tweet that you thought would be received more enthusiastically than it ended up being received?
Pff! All the time. I thought of this one as I was waking up one morning, and was convinced it was brilliant. In retrospect, it may have only seemed that funny to me because I was half asleep.
Photo by Joe Fuda.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in a Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.