Samantha Ruddy (@samlymatters) on Joking from a Good-Natured Place
Samantha Ruddy (@samlymatters) is a comedian based out of New York City. She’s performed at comedy festivals like Bridgetown, San Francisco Sketchfest, and New York Comedy Festival. Her writing has appeared on Reductress, CollegeHumor, and Someecards. Keep an eye out for her in The Comedy Holiday Album when it drops on December 22nd — proceeds benefit the ACLU!
This week, Ruddy talked with me about building a consistent tone, tweeting vs. standup comedy, and the response to political satire on Twitter.
The line in Piano Man where he says “the waitress is practicing politics” is so condescending. How do you know she’s practicing? Maybe she has a poli sci degree but nobody is hiring right now. You’d know for sure if you stopped playing the goddamn piano and listened for once.
— Samantha Ruddy (@samlymatters) December 6, 2017
This is something I tweeted recently that I thought was completely innocuous. It’s very clearly a joke but some people thought I was actually angry, so THEY got angry, and I’m a child so that is hilarious to me.
Do you ever worry about people misinterpreting your tweets and getting angry or offended?
Sometimes, sure. I want people to like me and I never purposefully try to upset anyone. Unfortunately, though, things that I find totally innocent can be seen as offensive to someone else. I try to come at everything from a good-natured place. If a ton of people are upset about something I tweeted, I usually give it a second look and consider whether I’m in the wrong. Unless it’s really funny.
How have your tweets/jokes changed over the past year?
I wouldn’t say they’ve changed significantly. I do think that I’ve developed a stronger voice in both my tweets and standup. My tone used to be all over the place. This past year, I’ve settled into an exaggerated version of myself. It’s me, but more of a troublemaker and a doofus than I actually am. I hope.
I got banned from Medieval Times for telling everybody they were on the wrong side of history
— Samantha Ruddy (@samlymatters) December 3, 2017
I think a lot of the funniest jokes come from the perspective of someone who has their heart in the right place but is ultimately a moron. That’s the kind of stuff that make me laugh the hardest.
How do you decide what joke to tweet and what to save for standup?
I’m still figuring that out. I’m not a one-liner comic, but I write short jokes that fit pretty well for Twitter now that it has 280 characters. I wish I never tweeted jokes that I do on stage but it’s so tempting to try them out. Most of my jokes that are strictly in my standup are visual, long, or a little bit dicey if you’re just reading them in text. Also, this is very silly, but sometimes tweeting out a joke can feel like claiming it or copywriting it in a way.
Similarly, have you ever taken a tweet and turned it into longer material?
I do this a lot. I’ll start out with a tweet, tag it, tag it again, find a bit I already have that works with it and then suddenly I have a new chunk of material.
Jeff Sessions is waging a war on weed and homosexuality and the only way you can fight it is by being high and gay RIGHT NOW
— Samantha Ruddy (@samlymatters) July 27, 2017
Jeff Sessions is pretty fixated on both homosexuality and marijuana users, which is interesting to me. It’s weird how those two things have had more intersection in the public discussion than you’d guess they would. Anyway, I just thought somebody frantically recruiting people to get stoned and make out was really funny. Maybe not the most effective way to protest, but definitely funny.
This past year more than ever before, Twitter’s become a place where people learn about politics and share their opinions. Do you enjoy political satire and joking about the news?
I’m burnt out on it right now to be honest. I like making political jokes. They’re fun. But they’re inherently going to offend some people and then you get swarmed by egg avatars calling you names and trying to intimidate you and it’s stressful. I’d rather be tweeting about armadillos. You can’t not address it, though. Comedians are supposed to talk about what people are thinking about and politics is all anybody is thinking about right now.
What does your newsfeed look like? Is it mostly comedy or other content as well?
It’s mostly comedy with some journalists, tech people, and movie buffs thrown in. Also, a lot of sneakers and streetwear stuff. You gotta have interests outside of comedy even if it’s just staring at tracksuits online.
Photo by Mindy Tucker.
Karen Chee is a is a writer/performer who contributes regularly to The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.