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What It's Like to Be a Popular 'Weird Twitter' Personality

Is it strange going from tweeting jokes to 30 followers to suddenly having a captive audience of thousands?
February 24, 2016, 5:00am

If British TV presenter Charlie Brooker is right and Twitter is the most significant video game ever made, then the people I spoke to for this succession of Q&As could be seen as democratically elected final bosses.

With an average of 50,000 to 100,000 followers, these featured Twitter comedians have become an odd type of celebrity, their jokes reaching tens of thousands of people at a time, while nobody actually knows what they look like or who they are because all their AVIs are pictures of turtles.


I wanted to know what it feels like to go from tweeting the occasional gag to five or six followers—your three friends, your aunt, that old geography teacher who's somehow found and added you on every social media platform going—to having a captive audience of thousands. So I spoke to a few funny tweeters who have experienced exactly that.

GoaT FacE ThrillA (@EndhooS)—38,000 followers

VICE: Hi. What's your deal?
@EndhooS: Hello, I'm Matty, a pretend killer goat off the internet. Despite the daily war of attrition making it seem like I've been writing dumb stuff on there forever, I've only been doing this sort of thing for a few years.

What do you do for a living?
I put steam on the table for my family via my job in engineering. It acts as a clever sideshow to my all-consuming Twitter empire.

Was there any particular moment where you found yourself getting loads of new followers?
In my experience, Twitter is a series of peaks and troughs where followers are concerned. It tends to take an agonizingly long time when you first start out, but then you might write a tweet that proves to be very popular, and it can really help get you noticed by the community. I can certainly count back to certain tweets that just blew up and seemed to gain me a big jump after being retweeted by celebrities or the big guns of joke Twitter.

How has Twitter changed your life?
Besides giving me a platform to act like a moron on a global scale? Not a lot, actually. Despite having all the trappings of adulthood, I've never really grown out of being the class clown at school. Twitter has given me a handy little space to blurt out my musings. I'd have never been interviewed like this without Twitter. It's slowly starting to open the door to doing a bit more comedy writing. Now I just need to find a way for it make me filthy rich. Having tens of thousands of followers hasn't earned me anywhere near enough to buy a giraffe or whatever.


Have any companies approached you to advertise on your account?
Not really, but it would be nice if they would. I've recently been propositioned about a bit of scriptwriting for short animations, which is something I've always had an interest in trying my hand at. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out. But seriously, if you're reading this, pay me money to be an idiot on the internet. Or just give me some free shit. I'm open to either, to be honest.

jomny sun (@jonnysun)—136,000 followers

Hello. Tell me about you.
@jonnysun: I'm @jonnysun! On Twitter, I suppose I write very loosely through the perspective of an alien trying to learn his way around being a human. In real life, my name is Jonathan Sun. I'm from Toronto originally, and I've been tweeting for about three years.

What do you do for a living?
I'm a PhD student at MIT. Being a student is very fulfilling because I feel like I'm constantly learning and being challenged, but it's not entirely fulfilling creatively—that's where Twitter comes in. It's an incredibly fulfilling creative project that is direct and immediate. I guess, in a way, it's a big part of my life in the sense that it consistently keeps me creative and sane and active. I've always said that if any opportunities to survive and make a living come out of Twitter—in terms of being able to do full-time comedy work and/or other creative work—then I would absolutely jump at it and pursue it. Slowly and surely things are happening.


How do you come up with your ideas for tweets?
Oh man, I could go on about inspiration for hours. Ultimately, I'm constantly trying to consume information and media and entertainment all the time—which is actually something that Twitter and social media are great for doing. I believe that ideas are fueled by ideas—the more things you can expose yourself to, the more creative ammunition you have to work with. In terms of actually writing, it comes and goes. I keep an Evernote document that is just a giant list of ideas, topics, or even just funny words or phrases that don't really mean anything—basically, it's just so whenever something flashes through my brain I can write it down immediately and not lose it.

SO embarased…thought sombody cute was staring at me so i stared back. but then i realized we were both just the negative space around a vase

— jomny sun (@jonnysun)October 19, 2015

What do you think of the 10,000-word limit structure that Twitter was considering implementing? Would it change the way you work, or do you think you'd still keep to short tweets?
I think I get why Jack [Dorsey, Twitter cofounder] wants to do it—and there are a lot of reasons that are completely justified and make a lot of sense for Twitter, including providing extra value for content creators, journalists, and readers (and advertisers). But I don't think I'd use it that much. The 140-character constraint is by far the most important factor that has shaped what comedy on Twitter means—it's created an entirely new language, and I do believe that Twitter has become an entirely new and unique medium for comedy and for writing. I think a lot of that uniqueness will vanish the instant the character limit no longer matters. Of course, it could—and will—create new types of Twitter humor, but I personally fail to see how something more long-form would differ from essentially any other social media or blogging platform.


What does it feel like to be somewhat of a celebrity on Twitter?
Totally bizarre. I actually am unable to comprehend it still. There's a cognitive dissonance between writing something alone in a room on my phone and knowing that over a hundred thousand people may see it instantly. I sometimes try to think about what 1 million impressions in a day really means, and I get totally spooked out. It's all very strange. But it's also very wonderful. I love connecting to people through Twitter, and I love reading how people react to what I put out—the good and the bad. People are always sending me cool stuff or pointing me to great authors or comedians or artists who I need to check out, so I'm learning a lot too. It's all-in-all pretty wonderful and enriching.

The other really cool thing, again, is just being able to connect to a huge variety of inspiring people and talk to people who I never, ever in my life thought, I would get the chance to. Like, I have the opportunity to talk to journalists, novelists, filmmakers, comedy writers, actors, a Broadway genius, rappers, musicians, stand-ups, poets, brilliant tech people, scientists, people who've given TED talks, people who've won Emmys, or Grammys, or Tonys, or Oscars—all in one day sometimes.

Have any companies ever approached you to advertise via your account?
The best interaction I've had with a company is that one time @spaghettios sent me a care package consisting of a SpaghettiOs hat, a SpaghettiOs T-shirt, and a can of SpaghettiOs.

eric c (@dubstep4dads)—103,000 followers

Who are you in real life?
@dubstep4dads: Hello! My name is Eric. I am 21. I am from the suburbs northwest of Chicago, Illinois, now living in Los Angeles, under a blanket held up by empty paint buckets behind an Olive Garden.


What do you do for a living?
I have a job that allows me to work at home or from the office at the hours of my choosing, which is great for me, because I am a lazy piece of shit. Basically, I find strategies to grow social media accounts and campaigns, and occasionally create content. Millennial shit, baby. I am not getting by very well. Do you want to hire me? Is that what this interview is about?

What's the background to your Twitter character?
There's not much background to it; I've always liked turtles. I actually used to "crank my hog," a.k.a. "masturbate," to the 2002 film Master of Disguise. I know you're probably saying to yourself: "Why not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?" Because that's gross and seriously fucked up. So anyway, I found a picture of a turtle somewhere on the internet and edited it a bit. Then a friend of mine made it into a GIF, and here we are. As far as the name, "dubstep4dads," I don't exactly know where it came from. When I made the account, I was 18. I guess I thought it was funny. I also was definitely listening to dubstep at the time. As far as the display name, "cool as h*ck turtle," which I've recently changed to my real name, something I do from time to time, it basically just explains the AVI. I mean, it's a turtle in sunglasses. I don't know.

Was there one particular moment when you noticed a huge jump in followers?
It really picked up after Rob Delaney retweeted me one time. Once I asked Rob to send me a picture of his calves in front of his fridge, and he did it, within like 15 seconds. He is a nice hairy man.


How has Twitter changed your life?
Twitter has changed my life in a couple of ways. If not for Twitter, I would probably still be in school in Michigan, or perhaps working a job in Chicago. I would probably be making more money than I do now. I feel like my answers to these questions so far haven't been very good. I apologize for that. If anyone reading this wants to come and beat me with large sticks, I will give you my address. I'll be out in the yard playing with a hose.

k e e t (@KeetPotato)—71,000 followers

Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
@KeetPotato: My name is Keith potato, and I work part time at the local zoo giving haircuts to animals. It's truly amazing work. I currently tend to all the animals, except the giraffes. I love them to bits, but when I was 12, I fell off a stepladder and spoke Japanese for six weeks.

And how did you get so many followers? Was it a sudden or a gradual thing?
I've been tweeting—let's call it what it is—utter horse shit since 2013, but how my account has grown from 93 followers to the ridiculous size it is now is anyone's guess.

How has Twitter changed your life?
A girl sent me a taxidermy duck, which although truly terrifying, I still have to this day. I spray it with aftershave because it smells funny. Had it not been for Twitter, I also wouldn't know words like "fleek" or "updog," so you could say Twitter has had a pretty huge impact on my whole world.


What does it feel like to be somewhat of a celebrity on Twitter?
To be considered a Twitter celeb, on first thought, at least, doesn't strike me as being a good thing. But I guess it does open some unexpected doors. Last year, I randomly received a two-month supply of Toilet Duck. I can only assume it was because my avatar is a duck, and my writing belongs in a toilet.

Who do you think are the funniest people on Twitter?
Some of the funniest people on Twitter are the people who never intended to be funny in the first place. The girl who thought Barack Obama was President of England and referred to him as barraco barner—to this day, she is still my favorite human.

ruined picnic (@ruinedpicnic)—27,000 followers

Introduce yourself to the world.
@ruinedpicnic: I'm @ruinedpicnic. My name is Josh, and I am from the UK. I've been on Twitter since 2009, but I didn't start making jokes and stuff until just over a year ago.

What do you do for a living?
At the moment, I'm working part time for a charity. People usually sound impressed when I say that, but I get paid, so I'm not being a good person or anything weird like that.

How do you think of stuff to tweet about?
Honestly, most of the time when I start writing a tweet I don't even have a punchline for it—I just start typing into the box, and it works itself out. Sometimes, it doesn't work itself out, and I end up tweeting utter garbage or deleting it. Actually that happens a lot.

tag a mate who would have died in the plague!!!

— ruined picnic (@ruinedpicnic)February 20, 2016

What do you think of the 10,000-word limit structure that Twitter was considering implementing?
I don't really like that idea—I feel like the brevity and restriction is part of what makes Twitter unique.

How has Twitter changed your life?
In the year or so that I've been doing it, I've made some of the best friends I've ever had, probably because someone's mind is sort of laid out in front of you so you can read a tweet and say, "Hey, this person is like me," and start a friendship based on something as simple as that.

What does it feel like to be somewhat of a celebrity on Twitter?
People have sent me pictures of Starbucks cups with jokes from my tweets given as the names, which seems silly, but that's insane to me—that from my tweet someone said a nonsense word to a stranger and made them write it on a cup.

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