In early 2009 I was in a hotel outside of Minneapolis where I’d just performed at a comedy club. I was on Facebook and saw that Louis C.K. had announced he’d opened a Twitter account. Like many people, I thought Twitter was for notifying people you were taking a shit at Burger King, so I avoided it. But I thought, “Hey, if Louie’s doing it, maybe I should check it out.” I started an account and posted the worst image of myself I could find as my photo. It’s me standing on a beach wearing a green Speedo with horrid blue designs swirling around my tightly bunched cock and balls. People ask if I really wear that Speedo and the answer is yes, but only under my wetsuit when I swim during the winter.
I was about to put on my wetsuit one evening when my friend John said, “Jesus Christ you look awful. Let me take a picture.” As I posed, my wife looked on with a sad resignation I’ve seen maybe 200 times. What’s funny is that we were married a few yards away from where the photo was taken, so it was doubly sad. Naturally, many people don’t like my picture and ask me to change it. I won’t.
I began tweeting and realized that my favorite tweets to read were the ones that made me laugh. Tweets of no informational value were the ones that made me happiest. If I wanted to know what someone did with every waking moment, I would keep them in my basement, not scan their Twitter timeline.
At the time I started Twitter I was in debt and adding to it every month. Every TV show I submitted writing to would reply with “Great stuff!” but not hire me. Other comics were expressing worry about giving up “material” for free on Twitter. Since nobody was paying me to do much of anything (with the exception of the SAINTLY owners of the aforementioned Joke Joint in Bloomington, MN; the only club in the country that would book me a couple of times a year to headline) I figured “Fuck it. I’ll give it away for free.’” I decided to show the people who were kind enough to follow me that, whether or not they necessarily thought I was funny, I did have a work ethic and liked to write jokes all day, every day.
For further inspiration, I had the good fortune some years ago to have a joke stolen from me and performed on TV by a comic I knew. At first I was upset, but then I realized that, poor etiquette aside, the guy was funny and he would’ve been on TV with or without my joke. I also realized that if I couldn’t immediately write several more jokes to replace it, then I wasn’t funny, and I had no business calling myself a comedian. So I forced myself to make a mental adjustment and decide that the guy had done me a giant favor. And he had. I became much less precious about material. Of course I’d be “proud” of a good joke, but I knew to thicken my skin and just produce. My silent motto when I began to encounter joke theft on Twitter was “Go ahead and take ‘em, motherfucker. Here come five more.” My goal as a comedian became to be a Delta Force Operator of humor that you could throw in an empty room with nothing and I could make something funny and kill people with it. This remains my goal.
On Twitter, I try to elicit an emotional response. Usually it’s laughter. Hopefully it’s involuntary. I don’t fault people for posting pictures of their food or just chatting back and forth with each other; that’s just not my style. People come to my page to be entertained and I view it as my sworn duty to do so. So if I ever do decide to tell you I’m taking a shit at Burger King, it will because I’ve been gored by an elephant that escaped from the zoo, my bowels have released, and I want to say goodbye and thank you before Jesus picks me up in His black chariot.
Previously - A Voter's Guide