Clare O’Kane (@babysfirstgun) on the Easiest and Hardest Jokes to Make

clare o'kaneClare O’Kane is an actress, comedian and writer from San Jose, California, living in Los Angeles. She has performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, SF Sketchfest, Outside Lands and other festivals around the country. Clare has written for Spongebob Squarepants and is also one-third of the sketch group Blessed. This week she spoke with me about three of her favorite tweets, auditions, elementary school, and her problem with topical jokes.

O’Kane: This is my idea of a topical tweet: a fake moment wherein someone is trying to be funny AND topical. Those kinds of jokes (topical ones) don’t come easy to me for whatever reason, so my interpretation of that shit is always weird and dark and kind of sad. They’re never particularly clever and only kind of relevant. I don’t like feeling like I have to be funny all the time about everything. I think the idea of living that way is weird and also, in its own way, very funny. Does that make sense? Anyway!

Is there a specific point when you realized that topical jokes don’t come easy?

I think maybe when this election started, or whenever there’s been a major tragedy in these past few years. I see other people making light of things but it’s difficult for me to tweet about something that makes me upset or anxious. Of course, I think I you can find comedy in MOST things and situations, even the saddest ones, but sometimes when I try to do it the emotion overcomes the actual writing ability. Some people can make “angry” funny, but I haven’t figured it out yet. It’d be VERY tight if I could, though!

What kind of jokes come easiest to you? Are they the same as your favorites ones to make?

The easiest jokes to me are the hyper specific ones. The things I think about on a day to day basis that, in retrospect, aren’t thought of or talked about on a daily basis, at least on Twitter. Like, how the fact that every carpet store in America is always having a “blowout” sale is comforting to me. Stuff like that. The dumber the better, in my HUMBLE opinion.

I also like doing very stupid variations of that Meet the Parents quote, “I have nipples, Focker. Can you milk me?” For instance

Yeah. Those are probably my favorite.

Auditioning in Los Angeles is fucking goofy. I try not to put too much stake in auditions. I don’t take it seriously enough though, which I know does a huge disservice to people who actually try. There are people sitting in the waiting area thinking like, “Holy shit, this is my shot!” and I’m taking up space and farting into a bench like, “Fuck, I would LOVE to sell out for $1000 right now.” Luckily, I’m not great at auditioning, so the people who DO put in the hard work are still getting what they deserve. The other day I auditioned for a cell phone commercial and was told I had to be a “real person.” They asked me questions during the audition while I mimed swiping around on my “phone.” The dude asked, “So what do you use your phone for?” I said, “Oh, I check my email to see if I, uh, have any auditions or whatever.” He was like, “Uh, you’re not supposed to be an actor in this commercial. You’re a REAL PERSON, remember?” “Oh. Right,” I said, and pretended to be a fake real person. I’m going to be broke forever.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about Twitter?

My favorite thing about Twitter is that it’s become one of the most reliable news sources on the internet. People who were actually witnesses to events or whatever have this outlet. The most direct form of communication to the world.

That is also my least favorite thing about it. It’s an outlet for EVERYONE. The loudest, or in Twitter’s case, most prolific people, are the ones who are heard, and a lot of the time those people aren’t saying anything productive, or, even worse, funny. You have to weed out a lot of bullshit and it’s too easy to get caught up in people’s feeds whose beliefs you don’t agree with. No one is changing anyone’s minds about anything. People are just shouting into the void.

How similar would you say your Twitter voice is to your voice IRL?

I would say my Twitter voice, especially lately, is pretty close to my real voice. If anything, I wish I could talk about things in real life like I do on Twitter: with plenty of time to second-guess myself, consult my boyfriend on whether or not something is worth saying, and spell-check.

I was walking my friend’s dog one day and noticed a mural on the side of an elementary school by her house. There were blotchy paintings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa (people I could only identify by context clues like “this is a religious school” and “Martin Luther King Jr. is in every elementary school mural so this must be him”). That moment inspired this dumb (my favorite) tweet. School murals should be respected for their consistency. They are almost always the worst (in the best way). Most are clearly painted by a parent or parents trying to get in good with the school, somebody the principal knows from college, or talentless children who will someday be lawyers and build robot armies. School mural motifs are simple, fun, and, most importantly, gloopy. The flowers, the “2+2=4”, the children of all different shapes, sizes and shades (brown, pink, orange, lime green) playing soccer under a smiling sun wearing sunglasses. I’m just…a huge fan.

Do you use Twitter to develop larger pieces?

I do! I like to test out an idea on Twitter sometimes before I decide to turn it into a standup bit. It’s kind of the perfect place for that, besides an open mic. I think that’s why I like it so much. I don’t have to leave the house to find out if a joke idea has legs or not. A lot of times though it just doesn’t translate, especially when I’ve tweeted something in a “character” voice and I try to present it as my own, true voice. Anyway, I’m constantly in a state of “Who am I?” which is very cool and doesn’t make me want to eat my own head at all, no way.

Are there any other characters you like to do on Twitter?

One of my favorite things to do is to be a character calling into a Morning Zoo radio show, mostly because I like coming up with shitty radio DJ names like DJ Shoulder Parrot in the Morning and DJ Fart Man in the Morning. Always “in the morning”…

Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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