@GregMania on His Comedic Persona and “Being Louder Than Hate”

greg-maniaTwitter is filled with many hilarious personalities and comedic brands, but very few accounts have led to inspiring an actual book (the kind that’s on actual paper, away from a screen). Meet Greg Mania, a writer and comedian based in New York City, whose work has appeared in The Huffington Post, OUT Magazine, BULLETT, Posture, CREEM, among other international online and print platforms. You can check out his website for more of his work — and read on for details on his forthcoming book!

This week, Mania kindly talked to me about his favorite joke formats, what accounts he follows, and how he believes Twitter is ultimately a great equalizer, among other things.

I’ve been getting back into Charmed so a lot of my material has been Wiccan-based lately. Sometimes I’ll write like ten to twenty jokes in my phone on the train and I’ll pick like two or three favorites to either tweet or use in some capacity, be it in an article or a script. This one just happens to be one of my favorites of the bunch!

How often are your tweets sincere? Are they largely based on your real life?

I would say 90% of my tweets are hyperbolized. I use my Twitter (and my other social media accounts) to perform as this comedic persona who’s this over-the-top, extended version of myself. I basically want to be the Phyllis Diller of social media. A lot of people use social media to curate a perfect life; I use it to perform. 

Who are three comedians or accounts that were influential when you first started tweeting?

I remember falling in love with Twitter as a platform for joke-telling when I found people like @meganamram@robdelaney, and @audipenny — I want to send each of them a friendship bracelet every day for the rest of my life or until whichever one of Donald Trump’s tweets get us all killed. 

It’s no secret times are tough with the 24/7 news cycle; it’s like a nesting doll except instead of a cute doll decreasing size placed one inside of the other, they’re demogorgons from Stranger Things and they’re shouting things like, “ACTUALLY…” I already live with anxiety and panic disorder so instead of fanning the flames of the dumpster fire that is my mental health, I have to laugh through hard times, especially now more than ever. Also, I’d like to nominate the phrase “more than ever” as the democratic presidential nominee in 2020. 

What are your favorite joke formats to tweet in?

I love parodying phrases or quotes, but I usually just try to stick to whatever idea or concept has been marinating in my brain as of late. The idea comes first, and then comes structure. My love of comedy comes from my love of words; I love how words sound and where the emphasis lies in them. Writing comedy, to me, sometimes feels like you’re composing a symphony because you’re basically putting together the sounds in a pattern that will elicit a laugh. I might find a way to use “cranberry bog” in a tweet because “bog” — a monosyllabic word, which usually tend to be funnier — cracks me the hell up. A lot of times I will literally construct an entire long-form piece around one joke because I love the joke so much and want to explore the possibilities that could stem from it. 

What makes up your Twitter feed?

My Twitter feed is 95% female comedians and writers. I’m obsessed with people I’ve found recently like @aparnapkin, @scaachi (I followed her after I read her book, which I believe should replace every Gideon bible in every hotel room), and of course, @sosadtoday, who is unparalleled. I also follow a lot of my favorite authors like @TheBloggess, @wordscience, @rgay, @luvvie, and @askanyone

I love observational humor. I always remember that jumping up to hit something that’s hanging high up and following it up with a high-five was a hallmark for straight dudes in middle and high school. I, for one, am still sore from trying to do a chin-up in 9th grade gym class, so you won’t find me jumping by choice anytime soon. 

You write a lot of longform articles about being gay. Have you found Twitter to be a safe space as a gay man? How could it improve? 

I write a lot about identity, so I’m always discovering and rediscovering things about myself, and writing is my outlet for that. Being gay is a large part of who I am, and there are definite downsides to being comfortable in your own skin and using your voice online because there are people out there who hide behind their computer screens and utilize all their free time to take people like me — people who are unapologetically themselves and aren’t afraid to express what they believe in — down and try to snuff them out. I think Twitter, like any other platform, has its shortcomings when it comes to protecting those against hate, threats, and general vitriol from trolls and ill-meaning people, but I think the overall beauty of Twitter is that it’s the great equalizer. You have the opportunity to use your platform, come together, and have your voice heard. The key is being louder than hate.

Can you tell us anything about what your book is about? Have any of your tweets found their way into your book?

Oh, yes! My book is inspired by this comedic persona I’ve conjured online! Before I decided to pursue comedy full-time, I was a student-by-day, club-kid-by-night. My book is basically about how I went from New York City nightlife to comedy. It’s about the discovery and rediscovery of identity garnished with the filth that comes out of my mouth. My amazing agent and I are hard at work making it the best book it can be! In fact, I should be working on revisions right now — ssh, don’t tell her I’m here.

 

Photo by Morgan Stuart.

Karen Chee is a is a writer/performer who contributes regularly to The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.

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