Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Meet the Wisenheimers: Twitter's Comedy Underground, Part 2

In Part 1 of this essay I wrote (in 1800+ words) about how Twitter's pack of wisecracking kids evolved to the point where they are today. As more funny people hop on board, one can expect that the "community" will fracture and fall apart, with misunderstandings and blood feuds and decades-long grudges, until the children of this first generation of Twitterers grow up, meet, and fall in love, against the wishes of their embittered parents.

Let's say you're just starting out on Twitter and are daring it to entertain you. In this, the second and final part of this epic post, I'll answer the question: "Who should I follow?" And I'm not including Robert Scoble or Kevin Rose. (You can also take Nick Douglas' advice on the matter.)

As with all forms of comedy, your mileage may vary. Click on a thumbnail to visit each person's individual page to decide for yourself.

Women on Twitter who make me laugh

@AmyJane Married to @gruber (see below). Mercilessly unafraid to skewer her husband or four-year-old son to get a laugh.
AmyJane Doctor asked me what I use for birth control. I should have told her that my husband takes photos of bad quotation marks. That's all I need.

@communicatrix Former advertising copywriter (and erstwhile compadre of Ana Gasteyer) Colleen Wainwright.
communicatrix I'm either going to have to rethink the "pistachios as reward" thing or the "fitting in these pants" thing.

@EffingBoring Rachel, from Brooklyn, "dynamite with a laser beam; extraordinarily nice." Partial to hiphop quotations and dick jokes. Recent winner of the You Look Nice Today white carnation.
EffingBoring Clothes shopping at Target. Apparently "in" this season: looking ambiguously pregnant, patterns that clash with themselves, yelling at kids.

@verdandi Criminally underfollowed. Expert observational humorist, brilliant absurdist.
verdandi Found 4 pens stuck in my hair, and it's not even noon.

@phillygirl A lot happens "offscreen" in phillygirl's tweets.
phillygirl You'd think singing "Domino Dancing" (incl. horn solo) while waiting in line would act as a deterrent to conversation-starting. You'd think.

@ShuffShuffGraduating high school senior, New Hampshire.
ShuffShuff Someone asked if I would sell them my Fugly Satirical Sunglasses today. "... but you're not supposed to *like* them!" Ugh, fuck fashion.

@echuckles Elizabeth Chuck, NYC. Has an ambivalent relationship with the shift key.
echuckles i've got a lot of questions about olives. like, a LOT

@ohheygreat Leah, student splitting time between Berkeley and the OC. Self-admitted total spaz; boss of the run-on sentence.
ohheygreat Have you ever scratched your nose & noticed your hand smells like horse only you haven't petted one in weeks and what the fuck did I touch.

@brittneyg Brittney Gilbert, Berkeley/SF. Uses Twitter for reasons other than cracking jokes, but can be funny when she wants to be.
brittneyg Yes, Wolf Blitzer, I am in the Situation Room, but it is not by my own hand, and I want the fuck out.

@kissane Writer and editor, Portland.
kissane Reason #85,097 not to live in Kentucky: Dramatically increased chance of discovering dead guy on your morning walk to the river.

@vmarinelli Victoria Marinelli, Richmond, VA. Seriously high-volume (not everyone is willing to follow her, for this reason). Flirts endlessly (and profanely) with women and men alike, but I find her parenting tweets the funniest.
vmarinelli Second to last day of our health insurance. Anybody in this house wants to get sick over the next few months, they'd better do it RIGHT NOW.

@AinsleyofAttack Ainsley Drew, freelance writer out of Portland. Smart, biting, with an aggressively raunchy (bi-) sexual persona that is spinning the wisenheimer boys into a bit of a frenzy. A bit much for my own tastes at times, but she's hella good at what she does.
AinsleyofAttack At the grocery store I just checked a girl out so hard they had to call for clean up. Cuidado, piso mojado.

@dooce "Mommy blogger" Heather "Dooce" Armstrong
dooce The 80-yr-old man on the treadmill next to mine was running twice as fast as I was, but I win because I had cuter shoes.

and then there are also boys

@SeoulBrother "Half Seoul. All brother." Up for any meme, any time. From his swipes at conference calls I gather that he has a job, but I also imagine his bosses don't realize what they are paying him for.
SeoulBrother Countering your 'monetize' with 'mad chedda.' Now that's playing the race card. Also, knuckle bumping is over. Draw 4. Uno. OUT.

@Remiel An early winner of the You Look Nice Today white carnation for tweets such as:
Remiel Tact is the art of deciding between "not really interested" or "really not interested."

@Moltz John Moltz, creator of the parodic Apple fan site Crazy Apple Rumors. Went on an extended, hallucinogenic tear through the TED conference (which, one suspects, he did not actually attend.)
Moltz At TED: Not proud of it, but I just had to punch Doris Kearns Goodwin in the face. Actually, you know what? I am proud of it. *Sick of her.*

@badbanana Tim Siedell, Nebraska. Surreal, minimalist one-liners from America's heartland. Doesn't just hang with the wisenheimers (he follows 700+ other people on Twitter).
badbanana Soon, I won't be able to afford my favorite meal of rice and crude oil.

@gknauss Greg Knauss. Was funny before Twitter.
gknauss Packing away kid crafts and becoming convinced that goddamned glitter should be banned. Next: Vacuuming, apparently.

@gruber John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame. Most of his tweets are about coding or Apple Inc. (neither of which may interest you), but he is the starting point for many a Twitter meme. Also worth following as the butt of many of @AmyJane's jokes.
gruber Fell down the stairs 15 minutes ago. Goddamn wife is still fucking laughing about it.

@magnetbox Ben Tesch, web designer/developer, Seattle.
magnetbox Take out the mixed case, and an e-mail exclaiming "There Will Be Blood shipped to you and arriving on or around Friday" doesn't sound good.

@zeldman Jeffrey Zeldman, co-founder, A List Apart.
zeldman Last time I checked my ass, I couldnt pull that kind of work out if it.

@jimray Journalist/ruffian from Seattle.
jimray Man, once a Sharepoint site gets created, it goes from project to Project Managed!

@nevenmrgan Developer (you might be sensing a trend), Portland.
nevenmrgan At Chipotle, a friend orders a "small burrito". In the back, an old woman cackles menacingly - "Small!" - then vanishes in a cloud of smoke.

@textism Dean Allen. Another damn developer; this one the creator of Favrd, the site that captures the wisenheimers' favorite tweets.
textism Please shut the fuck up about Comic Sans. Comic Sans isn’t the problem. Times New Roman is the problem.

Other wisenheimer favorites include @Mike_FTW, @FarkerPeaceboy, @fedge, @awryone, @fireland, @strutting, fake clippings from a @larrykingcolumn, and an obscene fake @soupysales.

plus some you may know from other contexts

@hodgman THAT John Hodgman. Still trying to figure out how to use Twitter, but getting there.

@jonathancoulton Internet geek troubadour Jonathan Coulton. Posts infrequently, mostly texted from the road or while he's on parent duty.
@jonathancoulton Dippin Dots is the ice cream of a future that I don't want any part of.

@apelad Cartoonist Adam Koford, creator of the LOLCats comic.
@apelad In Soviet Russia, your pants spill salsa all over _you_.

@youngamerican Jesse Thorn, from The Sound of Young America and Jordan, Jesse, GO!
@youngamerican Do you ever get jealous of observant jews? They always look like they're goin' places.

@Jordan_Morris Boy detective. The Jordan half of Jordan, Jesse, GO! New this week to Twitter, but already getting the hang of it.
@Jordan_Morris Nintendo: Trying to combine video games and exercise is like trying to combine sex and punching.

@jdickerson John Dickerson, Slate political writer and co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest. One of the few wisenheimers that follows the election, in part because it's his actual job.
jdickerson It's not just Kentucky bluegrass that's music to my ears but the comforting victory state pun at the top of every one of my speeches.

and the hosts of You Look Nice Today

The current hub of Twitter comedy culture is the podcast "You Look Nice Today" (read Part 1 for more), hosted by @scottsimpson, @lonelysandwich, and @hotdogsladies.

@scottsimpson I figured it out. The spider, whose web I break every morning en route to my car? He's not stupid--his insurance company is.

@scottsimpson The music in your car always sounds like the soundtrack to a movie I don't want to see." —my wife

@scottsimpson Bathroom key fob size inflation is rampant in SF. At some point the key is just going to be bolted to a barista.

@lonelysandwich My heart is telling me one thing and my bangs are telling me something completely different.

@lonelysandwich If the headline "Obama breaks with former pastor" makes me picture them popping and locking, it doesn't mean I'm racist, just nostalgic.

@lonelysandwich If there's a way of looking good while a pigeon flies INTO YOUR FACE, I'm one step closer to finding it.

@hotdogsladies American Apparel tailors their shirts for men who aren't fortunate enough to share my sophisticated relationship with pie.

@hotdogsladies Oh, great. Now I smell like Febreze AND a warm hoagie.

@hotdogsladies Nice thing about a 2-year waiting list for a $7k purse is you can use the time to start sorting out exactly what the fuck is wrong with you.

in closing

I'm certain I've omitted several people. Just doing my part to get the blood feuds up and running. (Updated 6/9: Case in point: @nevenmrgan)

As I explained in Part 1, one can always find new Twitterers to follow by checking the Favorites page of anyone whose sensibility you appreciate. Or by keeping an eye on the front page of Favrd.

Of course not everyone on Twitter uses the platform solely as a hyperactive, distributed class to clown in. You might even decide to follow people you actually, you know, know.

But figure if you're still reading at this point you might decide to follow me:

@cjereneta I do not have a job that allows me to Twitter. Hang on--missing a period in there. I meant: I do not have a job. That allows me to Twitter.

Once I manage to build up a steady income we'll see for how long I can manage to stick around.


Tim said...

That was superb!

Anonymous said...

This is great. Can you continue just not having a job for a while? Maybe we can send you burritos in support of efforts such as this.

Jeff W.

the communicatrix said...

This is an awesome effort, and not just because I am a beneficiary of it.

Wait--what am I saying?

Of _course_ it's because I am a beneficiary of it.

Tim said...

I tried adding six or so to my twitter feed... and lo and behold, that's not really enough to keep up laughs, because even wisenheimers feel the need to twitter about going to buy groceries. Didn't feel the need to add ALL of your recommendations. Kept Colleen Wainwright on, since I'm on her email list anyway. Figured I'd rather get notices about grocery shopping from people I actually know, like the Commoncraft video suggested. So I dumped my address book in and now my facebook friends.

Six wasn't enough either, because the six I chose weren't riffing on the same thing at the same time, so there was no hilarity building on memes... and thus no inspiration to jump in myself with wisecracks.

LA said...

I just stumbled across this post. Great! Thank you. I tweeted it. I'm also bookmarking it ... ran out of steam trying to look at everyone's page! You've got a ton of people. Great resource.

Leigh Ann Hubbard (@FamilyDoctorMag)
Managing Editor
James Hubbard's My Family Doctor