@FranHoepfner on Tombstones and Taking Her Time to Write Jokes

fran hoepfnerFran Hoepfner is an editorial assistant at ClickHole, as well as a writer and comedian living in Chicago. She is a features contributor for both ClickHole and The Onion and has contributed to Maxim, The A.V. Club, and RogerEbert.com. This week Hoepfner talked to me about some of her favorite tweets, as well as tombstones, joke trends, and only recently discovering her tweet drafts folder.

Hoepfner: This a very short and simple joke. I thought of it two days after my most recent break-up (not this joke precisely, but a version of it) and wanted to hang onto it for a little while. The temptation on Twitter is to do observational stuff 24/7, whatever’s happening to you in that moment. Occasionally I retain some of my standup impulses and have an experience and choose to feel it and experience it before I want to actually write or joke about it. I’ve never done standup about anything super immediate in my personal life, especially dating. That stuff always has to marinate for like 3-6 months before I feel ready to formulate jokes.

Do you like to draft tweets before you publish them? Do you think those end up very different from tweets you send out right away?

I don’t draft tweets. I only learned how to access my drafts folder like two weeks ago because I’m an idiot. I feel like I should specify that I’m not some kind of maniac who hand-writes potential tweets in a journal. If I want to make a joke about something but don’t have the particular phrase I want, I’d rather hang onto it than tweet a half-written joke.

The content of my written tweets and my in-the-moment ones is essentially the same. If anything, the wording is snappier. The character limit on Twitter is nice for learning how to write a short, punchy joke. A lot of my off-the-cuff or reactionary tweets are clunky.

How do you feel about tweeting about personal things? Have your feelings on that changed over your time on Twitter?

Tweeting personal stuff is great, but there’s always a level of performance to it. There’s a persona. A lot of my observational tweets are inherently personal, as in they’re in “my voice,” but I’m never particularly explicit about my personal life. Anything I tweet about my life is like six months to a year after it happens. I’ve never tweeted about a relationship while being in one. I stopped drinking seven months ago and I’m only just now writing jokes about being sober. I’m very open and honest about my personal life in my comedy but way after the point when it would be important. In that comedy = distance + pain + truth equation, I’m always putting the emphasis on distance.

This is my pinned tweet and I am very proud of this joke. It’s a mix of low and high culture jokes. That “sext” joke format is very played out on Twitter. It’s always stuff like “sext: I have bread” or “sext: sweatpants” or whatever. I tried to think of a highbrow, kooky cultural reference and I chose the Edgar Allen Poe story “The Cask Of Amontillado,” which, if you’re not familiar, is about a guy luring his old rival into a wine cellar and then giving him a roofie and sealing him inside a wall. It’s like the 19th century version of muting.

Are you more compelled to join in on a Twitter trend that’s already played out (like “sext:__”) or one that’s not?

To the best of my knowledge, this sext tweet is the only time I’ve ever joined in on a joke trend. I shy away from memes and immediate commentary on anything, unless it’s One Direction news because I love those little scoundrels. And it’s not a moral high ground thing. I’m not a quick joke writer. It’s probably why I thought of a sext tweet like two years after that form was popular. It was less about wanting to join the trend (or comedically jumping in on the trend too late) and more about “oops, I only just now thought of how I want to make a joke in this form.”

What are your favorite and least favorite things about Twitter?

Twitter is a very fun place to read jokes about people you’ve never met and laugh with them without ever having to leave your open-floor office plan. When Twitter is good, it’s like going out to a small get-together with your pals where everyone joshes each other and has a nice time.

My least favorite thing about Twitter was that voyeuristic comedy trend of live-tweeting people breaking up or on shitty dates or whatever. It is such a bizarre 21st century nightmare to have a horrifying experience in public and have to worry whether or not someone is live-tweeting your misery. But I think it’s passed, so now Twitter is perfect forever.

I love jokes about tombstones. Many people in my generation are going to have a lot of anxiety about what to put on their tombstone because everyone changes their Twitter bio every week even though we’re all the same every day. On that note, imagine a world where everyone’s Twitter bio says “Very Loved.”

What are some of your other favorite subjects to tweet about?

I like to write tweets about:
– tombstones
– kissing
– slugs
– One Direction
– astrology
– movies
– specifically the movie Force Majeure
– whales

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

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