November 12, 2010

A Twitter Tutorial

Do you remember the days when you'd be sitting at a funeral and a completely brilliant yet utterly reprehensible/disgusting/legally-actionable comment would flash to mind but you'd have no one to tell it to? Painful, right? You'd be looking for someone to unleash this little gem on, but would be surrounded by a group of half-wits who just don't "get" the genius of a good funeral streaking joke. Enter Twitter. Suddenly these comments which had formerly been relegated to whispers were the new public currency of wit.

In piecing together their material, Twitter's humourists have certain models of tweeting which give their raw wit coherent form. When I see a guy on a unicycle, I can't just tweet "Saw a man on a unicycle. He looks like a jackass." The concept needs to be fit into a workable Twitter model. For example: "Wife left me. Just got fired. Having difficulty urinating. Time to buy a unicycle." Or "Unicycles: amusing exercise alternative or pedophile markers?" You can work any concept into a Twitter form and see great results, namely the mild amusement of dozens of people you don't know. Here are a few tried and true models which will guarantee Twitter stardom.

The Snapshot 

It's so ironic you got mauled by a lion when you love cats! Did I use "ironic" wrong? Isn't THAT ironic, ha ha! Gosh, that's a lot of blood. (@fireland)

I'm no Fields medal-winning mathematician/astronaut, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then 140 characters has got to be worth at least ten times that. This tweet takes a moment in a story and plants it with the reader like a brain parasite. The reader fills in the gaps. Result? Hilarity. 

The Hashtag Hail Mary 

For some reason I can't get Mozilla Firefox to work. I have to use shitty, virus prone, Internet Explorer. Grrrrrrrr. #firstworldproblems (@lpizzle)

It's a dumb observation or a nonsense statement, but then, bang, hashtag saves it. Witness another:

Do ghosts shit? #WhyamIstillatwork (@houseofcarlyle)

The hashtag adds another layer, like refried beans in a dip or a Vietnamese teen in a cuddle party. Hashtags don't just have to be search points for you tweet. Feel the room. Explore the space. 

The Confessional  

In my late twenties, I had a huge hole in my heart that I desperately tried to fill with fancy mustards. (@toddlevin)

If something is worth doing, it's worth doing yourself. Make the ridiculous personal. Putting a layer of fudge on a steak and calling it "Wonka-style" should be related through experience. It creates accessibility. See another:

I use chocolate as a substitute for sex, and Skittles as a substitute for masturbating in the ball room at Ikea. (@houseofcarlyle)

The idea in the abstract is amusing, but when you imagine the author with his pants around his ankles making angry love to himself in a Swedish furniture store, I dare you not to barf laughing. 

The "something is like something else" 

A hot woman pushing a baby carriage is like a photo of a pizza. (@thesulk)

The more cerebral the better.The reader appreciates having to engage a level of intellect beyond that required to laugh at a fail clip. You can't stretch too far, though. Because an overly-tenuous Twitter analogy is like fencing with Tony Hopkins. See? Try a better one out:

 Low-pressure showers are like bad sex. It's fine. You get used to it. And then one day you experience the alternative and OH! OH OH! OH GOD! (@sween) 

Funny AND True 

Women spend 2% of their lives trying to figure out where bruises on their legs came from. (@thesulk) 

This one even your grandmother can enjoy. Foibles! Humour! We're so fallible!  

The "Suck It, Somebody Else" 

Okay amateur photographers, the 1,000,000,000,000th close-up photo of a flower has been taken. It's safe to move on to other objects now. (@DamienFahey)

It's the insult comedy of the Twitter world. We try not to do it, but it's just so easy. And Twitter is the ultimate punch in the dark.  

The Monologue Joke 

My internet is so slow, it's just faster to drive to the Google headquarters and ask them shit in person. (@roughdiction)

Imagine Carson stepping up and lobbing this one into the crowd. It's safe. It's timely. We laugh. No one's going to get upset. Go again:

My wife read that using a laptop on your lap can lower your sperm count and that's why we own 32 laptops now. (@sween)

Jokes! These are jokes. It's great. Stop complaining. 

Sartre's Revenge 

Some people are their own punishment. (@thesulk)

Many tweeters are so full of self-loathing that the only thing standing between them and a long walk off a short pier is those 140 characters. These tweets turn deeply inwards. The ha-ha is followed by a furrowed hmm. But wit is wit and funny is funny.

The Twisted Saying

There is not a lot to discuss with these, because it's the best kind of humour: wit imposed on convention. Take something you know and cover it in latex: 

There must be a trick to fighting fire with fire because my kitchen just pretty much has twice as much fire now. (@badbanana) 

The best way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend! The 2nd best way is to drop a stove on him from a helicopter. (@robdelaney) 

When life gives you tape, make tapenade. (@houseofcarlyle) 

Yes, We Can  

I figured out why I stay here: a nagging suspicion that if I write the one perfect tweet, I can unlock the next level & be able to move on. (@UncleDynamite)

I'll tell you why I like this one. Twitter is a community of idiocy. It's a complete waste of time. The only reason any of us spend hours a day thinking about it is that we have the irrepressible desire to share our perspective to amuse others. At base, the subtext to every tweet is "Grace me with your approval." Sad? Absolutely. But we are small, pathetic things and we need all the help we can get. We might as well laugh doing it.

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