Zach Broussard is an actor and stand-up comedian living in Los Angeles. In the past, Broussard's performed both stand-up and sketch regularly at the UCB Theater in New York and has created and appeared in several web series. This week I talked to Broussard about topical jokes, collaborating on Twitter, and two of his tweets that he turned into relatively grand presentations. Stay tuned for a good Borat joke, too!
Broussard: I came up with this one a few weeks before 4/20 landed on Easter. But since the amount of topical jokes can get overwhelming, I wanted to give mine a leg up. So, for about 10 days, I teased the tweet, wrote dramatic Facebook posts, and hosted a make-shift AMA about the tweet. I constantly reminded people that tweets are free, so it didn't cost them anything to check it out on Twitter.com. It was completely shameless (and pointless) but people got into it! We even reached 420 retweets, a goal I just sort of made up at some point. READ MORE
Rachel Hastings is a writer living in Los Angeles, where she writes for the Bob's Burgers comic (the third issue of which comes out October 29th from Dynamite Comics), works in the production department for Bob's Burgers the TV show, and is a writer on the UCB LA Maude team Tut. This week I asked Hastings to tell me about some of her favorite tweets she's made. She talked to me about creating sketches out of those tweets, the funniest thing she's ever seen on Twitter, and her mom's role in all this. Check out some of her tweets below, and follow @RachelHastings for more.
Hastings: This is just something I really hope has happened in real life. I know I'm assuming a lot, for instance, that the song "Come on Eileen" was written about a real woman named Eileen, and that this real woman does not have nor will ever have anything else going on in her life, but again, I hope she's out there and that this conversation has taken place. Additionally, when I tweeted this, my friend Lauren immediately replied "Sketch," and I later wrote it into a sketch that was performed by my UCB LA Maude team, Tut. So my dream did come true on some level. READ MORE
Cole Escola is a writer and performer living in New York City. He created and starred in the sketch show Jeffery & Cole Casserole on the Logo network and can be seen performing live around New York as part of his comedy duo with Jeffery Self, in solo shows, and more, at places including Joe’s Pub and The Duplex. On Twitter, @ColeEscola's posts include musings on New York City and pop culture as well as fictional facts and wordplay that shed light on other topics. I recently talked to Escola about three of his favorite tweets and the arguments for putting a joke in a tweet and for saving it for a live show.
Escola: I don't have much to say about this tweet except that I have a lot of bad memories. READ MORE
Molly Hodgdon lives in Vermont. She’s currently in grad school studying criminology and is a contributing writer for Rifftrax. On Twitter, Hodgdon goes by the name Molly Manglewood, or simply @undeadmolly. Her tweets meld the macabre with observational humor and silliness. I recently asked Hodgdon to elaborate a bit on three of her favorite tweets, and she spoke with me about her pet turtle, her reasons for adopting a pseudonym, and the importance of conversation on Twitter.
Hodgdon: I like jokes that take a familiar phrase and give it a new twist or meaning. I've always liked this tweet because it does that in a way that is representative of the elements I love in humor. I like things that are dark and macabre but also extremely silly. Cannibalism and infanticide aren't funny, but that's the point. Some things are so inconceivably terrible that we use humor to cope with the idea of them existing, make them less threatening to our psyches. It's an important theme to me because I'm a grad student in criminology, so I have to read and write about a lot of terrible things. Humor helps me to manage the low-grade vicarious trauma of that. READ MORE
Alyssa Stonoha goes to college in New York City. She writes for the Livia Scott Sketch Program at UCB Chelsea in New York and performs at UCB and around town with her improv team Black Sabbath. Perhaps most notably, Stonoha appears semi-regularly on everyone's favorite public access late night program The Chris Gethard Show and even guest hosted an episode-long tribute to Beyonce in April 2013 when Gethard was out of town. On Twitter, Stonoha (@astonoha) is aggressive, smart, and uniquely funny, and she talked to me this week about some characters she likes to tweet as, how Twitter has changed for her in the years she's been on it, and why it's fun to tweet as a teenage misandrist.
Stonoha: This is a really great in-between for my tweets, or just my personality in general, because I tend to say things that are boy-crazy and also very aggressively misandrist. Even when I improvise, and obviously nothing is pre-planned, I almost always end up playing a teenaged girl and/or an aggressive, scary person. I like the crossroads of weird aggression and teen girls because I like to assert my dominance over the rest of the population as a teen girl. Teen girls are smart and intense and are looked down upon by people because people are actually afraid of us and of what teen girls would do if we all knew how much power we truly have. READ MORE
Avery Monsen is a writer, illustrator, and actor living in Los Angeles. He illustrated and co-wrote the book All My Friends Are Dead, wrote for the third season of Billy on the Street, and has performed at UCB in New York. And, as mentioned in a recent article on this site about the short-format comedy of Instagram and Vine, another thing about Monsen is that he’s really good at Vine. I recently talked with Monsen about three of his favorite tweets, what it’s like being on Vine, and the kinds of dumb things that people post and like on Twitter.
Monsen: I love that we’re living in a time where we can come up with a stupid idea, make it, and share it with thousands of strangers, all within a few minutes. For example: I thought it’d be funny to Photoshop pictures of celebrities riding bikes so it’d look like they were riding delicious Subway sandwiches. That’s a stupid idea, yes. I made "Usher Rides A Meatball Sub," "Owen Wilson Rides A Bacon, Egg & Cheese On Flatbread” and then got bored and stopped. Classic comedy Rule of Twos. READ MORE
@SamuelMoen just finished his master's in architecture at Harvard but says he didn't mean to. “Aside from Twitter,” Moen, who lives in Boston, told me, “my only major creative outlets are writing brutally honest Craigslist furniture ads and writing approximately one paragraph of a million spec script ideas and then going to get Sour Patch Kids and eating them until my tongue turns raw and sheds.” I asked Moen to expand upon three of his tweets, and he talked to me about the “summer camp friends” you meet on Twitter, favorite themes to explore and revisit in his tweets, and the kinds of jokes that work better online (all of them).
Moen: The idea of CrossFit appeals to me because I have always loved flipping over tractor tires. But what CrossFit doesn't offer is immediate catharsis. So, why not haul a fridge or a broken water heater out to the old quarry and just throw them off the side and hear that satisfying crunch of metal. It's also an excellent core and shoulder workout.
How did you first get into Twitter, and have you noticed the way you use it change over time?
Like many, I wanted a venue to complain and Twitter was supposed to be that. But you end up being followed by more strangers than friends and most of your friends don't really get Twitter anyway. So instead you stand in awe at people like Rob Delaney who can say whatever they want and it's funny and they access a level of immediate gratification that you lack. Eventually, you can access this, too, only to realize that you never needed it to begin with, Wizard of Oz style. But if anything it teaches you to look for humor in the unusual. The usual has been done and only people who like to say "bazinga" are going to laugh at a joke about comic sans. READ MORE
Hope Cantwell is a legal assistant and teacher living in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s been published in Vice and when I spoke with her recently she told me she welcomes any opportunity to write and is starting a free local paper with friends in Nashville. Cantwell, who tweets under the handle @hopiecan, also shared that she was voted wittiest out of her graduating high school class of 84 students, and she talked to me about three of her tweets, the first people she remembers following, and why she’s drawn to tweeting fake names and wordplay.
Cantwell: Most of the crap I tweet is rooted in my reaction or feelings about an experience (how droll!). With this one, I stopped in a coffee shop I'd never visited before and was feeling out of place and flustered. It's one of those places with just regulars, you know? And they're camped out in their usual spots with their Peter Nappi boots propped up on the table for everyone to see while they switch back and forth between reading The Stranger and The Nashville Scene. It was crowded and I just didn't know where or how to be, so while I was waiting I imagined the sort of person who would enter that environment, deem themselves the least pretentious person in that space, then proceed to call that space a kaffeehaus. And that thought cracked me up. Any time I can tweet the word "haus" I seize the opportunity. READ MORE
Originally from Britain and now located in New York, Siobhan Thompson performs and writes for the UCBNY Maude team Alamo, hosts and writes for BBC Ameria’s Anglophenia web series, and has appeared on various TV shows. On Twitter, Thompson goes by the handle @vornietom and has built up a delightful feed that ranges from flippant responses to trotted-out political conversations, adaptations of poems from elementary school, and well-constructed emoji landscapes. I recently asked Thompson to share three of her favorite tweets, and we talked about topical vs. standalone tweets, beauty tips for everyone, and where diving beyond people’s consciousness for a joke can go right or wrong.
Thompson: My general rule when talking about Twitter is "don't talk about a tweet for longer than the actual tweet", so this is very off my meticulously constructed personal brand. Like all very cool people, I take personal branding very seriously. Wait. No. Not my personal brand. Myself. I take myself very seriously. Gosh, there goes my silly little lady head getting all confused.
This is about as serious as I can get on the "are women funny" debate, because it's such a patently silly pseudoconversation that clickbait-driven hacks love to write about. It's so dumb. I also very much enjoy writing in the style of a 1970's faux Indian meditation guru, and do so whenever possible. Also also, I go through, like, so many hair ties. Where do they go? Is somebody taking them? It's impossible to know. I would read a blog post about missing hair ties in a heartbeat. It'd be much more relevant to my life than a thinkpiece on how Sarah Silverman's poop jokes are off-putting and unattractive. READ MORE
Melissa Broder (@MelissaBroder) is a poet living in LA. She is the author of three poetry collections, Scarecrone, Meat Heart, and When You Say One Thing But Meet Your Mother, and her work has been published in a variety of blogs and magazines. Outside of her poetry, Broder is very active on Twitter, and her feed is dark, existential, and very funny all at once. I recently got Broder to expand on three of her favorite tweets, and she talked to me about her tweet editor, her visit with a shaman, and being teen girls' hero.
Broder: I like this tweet, because other people liked it and when other people like my stuff it gives me a false sense of wholeness. I tweeted this impulsively, from the heart, rather than running it by my twitter editor first.
The tweet is based on an experience I had with an NYC shaman a few years ago when I realized that what I thought was anxiety my whole life actually had deep depression underneath. The shaman said the 'core passage' between my heart and neck was clogged with foreign beings. She guided me into my 'core passage' and I found bats. I'm not sure if they were real or if I was just trying to visualize something to make her feel like I was 'doing the work' and to validate how much she charged, but metaphorically it made deep sense. READ MORE
When she’s not touring, playing open mics and festivals, making web series, or recording an album, Maria Bamford finds things to keep her busy—in the past couple years, she’s appeared on Louie, Kroll Show, and Arrested Development, and she does voiceover acting for cartoons like Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors. Beyond her busy schedule, though, what’s impressive about Bamford is how in her standup she addresses dark or personal matters like suicide and mental illness stigma while never sacrificing her effervescent stage presence. Her 2012 direct-to-download the special special special!, which had her performing a set in her living room for her parents with breaks to serve cookies, administer eyedrops to her pug, and let her dad use the bathroom, is now available streaming on Netflix. I recently got to talk to Bamford about her special, her experiences with acting and voiceover work, and some of her favorite fellow comedians.
"I want season four to go somewhere new," Louis C.K. said when he announced he'd be taking an extra year to complete the latest season of his FX series Louie, which wrapped up last night. What resulted was a season of Louie made up almost-entirely of multi-part episodes, with C.K. using the complete creative control FX gives him to make three movies, spread across multiple episodes, instead of creating 14 individual, self-contained episodes. Past seasons have seen C.K. straying away from vignettes and toying with multi-part episodes (like with season three's two-part episode "Daddy's Girlfriend," following Louie's adventurous first date with a mercurial woman played by Parker Posey, or the three-parter "Late Show" that saw him seeking Letterman's job), but season four saw Louis C.K. primarily using his show for these feature-length (or near-feature-length) installments for the first time.
While the first three episodes of Louie season four were self-contained stories, what followed made this season great: three mini-movies—“Elevator,” “In The Woods,” and “Pamela,” each with a self-contained arc airing in episodic installments, two at a time every Monday for the past seven weeks. The doubled weekly serving size was logical for showcasing the season’s multi-episode movies, but the pairings weren’t as neat as they could have been: “Elevator 1” aired after one of the season’s standalone episodes, “Elevator 6” went straight into “Pamela 1” without any space for reflection on the former, and “In The Woods” was presented as a 90-minute episode separating “Pamela 1” from “Pamelas 2 and 3”. The result was a welcomely pleasing schedule that felt just a bit imperfect, not unlike Louie climbing into a romantic bath with Pamela only to send half the water seeping over the sides of the tub.
Legendary standup Steven Wright’s career has spanned over 30 years. He first performed in 1979, debuting on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1982, and having since then forged a prolific career out of his unique brand of deadpan observational humor and creative one-liners. Throughout his stint as a standup, Wright has toured consistently, starred in several specials, lent his talents for acting and voiceover work to projects as disparate as Mad About You, Half Baked, Reservoir Dogs, and Dr. Katz, to name a few, and won an Academy Award for his 1998 short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. Most recently, Wright served as a consulting producer on the fourth season of Louie, lending his creative mind to episodes like the “Elevator” series and “Model.” Earlier this month, I got to speak with Wright, who told me about his career, what it’s like working with Louis C.K., and how standup is like pushups for your brain.
Seasons one and two of Armando Iannucci’s political satire Veep depicted the vice presidency as whimsically inconsequential: a politician and her extremely driven staff stuck wasting their intelligence and penchant for insults on carefully-calculated interactions with the press and “normals” while the actually important POTUS eluded all his underling’s phone calls. A change seemed imminent, though, at the end of season two when the president announced he would not be running for re-election. This news set the stage for an excellent third season in which VP Selina Meyer and her cohorts left the comfort of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, home for the past two years to some of the best, quickest, and most savvy zingers on television, to blaze a campaign trail towards the West Wing.