Orli Matlow’s (@HireMeImFunny) Tweets are Jokes and Cries for Help

orli-matlowOrli Matlow is a New York-based comedian and writer who has performed at the Brooklyn Comedy Festival and is headed to the Women in Comedy Festival this year. She is a staff writer at Someecards and once contributed to New York magazine by translating the Hebrew edition of Playboy. Along with Ziyad Gower, she hosts the variety show Truth Bombs every fourth Saturday at Legion. Orli managed to score the domain name OrliMatlow.com.

This week, Matlow talked to me about wordplay, Jared Kushner, and how her tweets have changed over time.

This one took a while. I was trying to find a way to riff on Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation that wasn’t “JESUS MARY JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT TRUMP TOLD LESTER HOLT HE FIRED COMEY BECAUSE OF THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION HOW DID THAT NOT END IT ALL?” A personal philosophy I happen to share with all the dads in the world is, “When in doubt, pun,” so I worked my way backwards from “justice/just us.” I love the “what idiot called it” joke construction as a way to give simple wordplay some context. 

Do you prefer topical tweets or evergreen ones?

I love reading evergreen tweets, but I have a hard time writing them these days. The news is so all-consuming that I can’t entertain a thought that isn’t about politics long enough to write it down — lately I’ve been so anxious about dying tomorrow that I’ve forgotten to worry about dying alone. On Twitter, I most often find myself writing jokes as a reaction to bad news so I can get that sweet, sweet dopamine rush from the likes and feel better for about five minutes.  

Jared Kushner jokes are particularly fun and cathartic for me — so much so that my friend Ziyad Gower and I hosted “The Roast of Jared Kushner” at Legion Bar back in February. This is one of those late night monologue style jokes that come up rather mathematically. In addition to regularly fantasizing about the Kush going to prison, I mentally mapped out “Column A: Prison clichés,” and “Column B: Aspects of Kushnerology.” Beating up the biggest, scariest looking guy in the prison yard is an old trope, and I imagine that Jared would attempt to use the same immunity idol he has in the White House: being the son-in-law.

How would you describe your Twitter to someone who’s never read it before?

It’s definitely an extension of my brain. I’m embarrassed that “neurotic Jew who hates Trump” is such an unoriginal persona, but it’s my truth. My dad once asked me if my tweets were jokes or cries for help, and it’s fun that he thinks there’s a difference. 

This one is definitely autobiographical. I tweet so much about Jewish culture I often feel like an old man on the Borscht Belt in the ‘60s (who just happens to be a young woman in 2018). Jewish characters in pop culture (and also my family!) are often so painfully neurotic, I wouldn’t be surprised if Judaism was listed as a condition in the DSM. Sigmund Freud was a member of the tribe, after all. 

How have your tweets changed over time?

My tweets have changed a lot: I first joined Twitter in 2011 as @Theater_Tweeter so I could try and chat with Broadway stars! It was the year of Book of Mormon, so I was really focused on trying to get a “like” from Josh Gad. In 2012 I started doing standup, so I shifted away from harassing actors and towards using it as a place to try out jokes. Because open mics are such a painful (but necessary) experience, I now sometimes pretend that a joke doing well on the internet means it’s ready to be said out loud. 

I initially tweeted this joke when the Obamacare repeal first flopped in the House, imagining that Paul Ryan would continue plotting his revenge against the poor. I think that Ryan’s P90X photoshoot from 2012 is one of the funniest things in American history — it’s just so cheesy and un-self aware — that I will take any opportunity to get the embarrassing photos of the swole, flexin’ Speaker recirculating. This tweet is a sad example of how tweets that were initially written as topical can stay relevant: while Republicans might have tabled healthcare reform for now, they’re still actively pursuing policies that result in poor people dying, so I see this one getting a boost every couple of months. 

How do your tweets differ from other comedic writing you do?

My favorite thing about Twitter is that because the news so consistently offers the setup, you only have to think of the punchline. When writing standup or sketch, I try to provide the context in a way that’s still entertaining, but Twitter thankfully enables my laziness. When I do standup, I try to feel out just how much bringing up Trump would bring down everyone’s moods while they’re out drinking and watching comedy in a Brooklyn basement. I try to find novel ways to rant while still trying to entertain. The agony and the ecstasy of Twitter is that it’s so deeply at the mercy of Trump’s tweets and moods, it’s weird if you’re not talking about the T-word, so I’m free to rant IN ALL CAPS. 

 

Photo by Sandy Honig.

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

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