@Ben_Rosen on Tweeting with Comic Strip Ideas
Ben Rosen is a writer and cartoonist in Los Angeles who has contributed to The Onion, BuzzFeed, and McSweeney’s. In 2015 he wrote and directed Steve’s Jobs, a comedy pilot that screened in the New York Television Festival. You can visit his website here and, for the record, his favorite Simpsons episode is “Summer of 4 Ft. 2.”
ok i hacked into mike pence’s email pic.twitter.com/zJHpwKVGGj
— Ben Rosen (@ben_rosen) March 3, 2017
The Vice President is terrible, and there are a lot of people out there who are much better than I am at pointing out exactly how. And while they’re handling the crimes, injustices, hypocrisy, heartlessness, etc., I feel like what I can bring to the table is constantly mentioning how weird it is that Pence calls his wife “Mother.”
Do you purposely avoid tweeting about the more serious points of politics?
I just think my voice on Twitter is too silly to really tackle anything serious. My Twitter persona is a dumb guy who’s a big idiot about everything, so I think if I tried to write about something serious, it might seem like I was being flip. It’s so hard to hit that sweet spot of being both funny and insightful so I keep things light and jokey on my feed (outside of my deadly serious tweets about the Boss Baby). I promise I am more well-rounded in the real world.
TREBEK: i want to quiz a bunch of nerds and in the middle we’ll have them tell dumb stories from their lives
TREBEK: but i’m going to run it like a weird backwards riddle show from the mirror dimension
— Ben Rosen (@ben_rosen) October 4, 2017
I’ve drawn comics all my life, so a lot of my dialogue-based tweets are comic strip ideas that I wouldn’t ever get around to drawing. What’s great about Twitter is that you can get a joke out into the world immediately without having to painstakingly figure out how to draw Alex Trebek. The other super fun thing about this one is that Alex Trebek was actually NOT the original host of Jeopardy, and I made a LOT of new friends in my mentions who wanted to tell me that.
Ooh, what makes a joke perfect for a comic rather than a tweet? And where can we find your comics?
I could write 4 billion words about this! I think it all comes down to how you can use each medium to get the most out of the joke. If the joke is in the wording, I’ll make it a tweet. If it’s something visual, or relies on a reaction shot, a comic might be better. Or the words might be funny, but you might be able to make them funnier in the way you “shoot” the dialogue. Plus, in comics it’s a lot easier to play with pacing and making sure the reader reads it the way you want them to. There are so many factors and it’s really fun to figure out the best way to tell a joke. But if I’m being honest, I can convince myself ANY joke would be better as a tweet because I won’t have to spend an hour or two drawing it.
You can see the jokes I actually did get around to drawing on my Tumblr.
JANN WENNER: we need an article that would go well with our jar jar cover story
EDITOR: say no more pic.twitter.com/htWqCSm7ja
— Ben Rosen (@ben_rosen) December 12, 2017
I don’t like to tweet about my personal life, so I’m always excited when there’s a cultural event to make jokes about. To me, nothing is better than when everyone online is thinking about the Monster Mash and trying to come up with new jokes about the Monster Mash. This tweet was during the run-up to The Last Jedi and my brain was just chewing on dumb Star Wars stuff all day. And since America has never-ending Jar Jar fever, this one took off while all my insightful Chewbacca observations went unnoticed.
How often do you make topical vs. evergreen jokes?
I make jokes about whatever I’m reading or watching so a lot of what I write ends up being topical. But it’s the same process for both types of jokes — either I’m finding something funny about the Oscar nominees alongside the rest of the internet, or I’m finding something funny about the Donkey Kong Wikipedia page I’m reading instead of contributing something meaningful to the world.
What are some accounts, funny or otherwise, that you enjoy following?
There are hundreds of people on Twitter that make me laugh everyday. Most of them are teenagers who post old Vine compilations. But some of the really funny people I actually follow are: Charlotte Borgen, Jon Millstein, Jeremy Levick, Heather Schwedel, Dan Hopper, Malin von Euler-Hogan, and Demi Adejuyigbe.
Karen Chee is a is a writer/performer who contributes regularly to The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.