The State of Twitter Comedy

I love Twitter. It’s great for comedy.

There are so many good comedians on Twitter you can, and should, be following. Here’s a quick pick:

@serafinowicz – great thoughts and jokes from Peter Serafinowicz
@ryanqnorth – just one of the funniest people on the internet in general
@meganamram – surreal funny stuff
@robdelaney – pretty much the king of twitter
@joejwest – Jack’s mate. Funny.
@AstonishingSod – worth mentioning if only for the extreme number of Twitter accounts they have (a chap after my own heart)
@fart – just “weird twitter” stuff
@millsandboom – possibly the one person who Twitter who shares my exact thoughts on everything. Some days I almost RT every tweet.

And loads more of course. What’s common to all of these is that they do JOKES. All sorts of different jokes, but things that are recognisable as jokes. Puns, observations, funny signs, surreal nonsense – all things that are funny with words or pictures.

What I can’t stand though, is bad Twitter comedy. And sadly there’s loads of it.

You may or might not know about my @jokeisntfunny Twitter account. It’s an online “anticomedian’ persona where I pretend to not get jokes that aren’t funny, and also point out jokes that have been overdone.

I got the idea when I saw some tweets from Adam Bloom bemoaning the state of standup, and how some subjects have just been done to death. I’d noticed the same thing on Twitter, and thought something had to be done.

I’ve been only marginally successful I think. At most I’ve maybe managed to annoy a few comedians, coming across as some attempt at trolling (which of course it is) rather than changing the state of Twitter comedy for the better. So I’d like to have a go at better articulating what I don’t like on Twitter. And what better way to do that than with some case studies?

Case Study 1: David Schneider

David Schneider is a comic actor I actually quite like. I love him in Alan Partridge and The Day Today, and all that. The problem is I just really don’t like his Twitter. And it took me a while to figure out why. But I’ve boiled it down to at least some of the following:

  • Constantly doing political ‘satire’ that’s being done so much better elsewhere.
  • Relying heavily on photoshopped images.
  • The jokes basically all being the same.

The jokes are frequently such-and-such has been leaked from [some political thing] and it’s supposed to be really funny. Like in the above example, which is supposedly a government memo.

Obviously we all know it’s not a real government memo. It doesn’t even look like one. So why did DS go to the effort of trying to make it look like one? Or when even make a joke at all?

Cameron’s repeated emphasis on the raised terror threat is an obvious attempt to shift attention away from UKIP defections could actually be quite an insightful comment. Making it into a joke is pointless, especially when much of the surrounding padding is so weak: I mean, twerking? Really?

So yeah, it’s lazy and not that funny. But it’s insanely popular. The above tweet got 1.1k RTs, and 417 Favs. I’m not suggesting that RTs/Favs are any indication of success, but they do indicate popularity. And Schneider’s 194k followers speak volumes.

Oh and by the way, David Schneider also offered a £99-a-ticket seminar on how to be successful on Twitter. Read about it here. Pity those who actually paid up and went.

Case Study 2: The Poke

The Poke is just a bad thing. And it should feel bad.

Every single one of their posts is either a video or a photo. There are literally no actual jokes coming from @ThePoke. It’s mostly just links to their own site or images. Plus they repost A LOT.

Worse still, it’s not even their own content. The above sloth post for instance, was originally crafted by @death_stairs. They credit him on the actual site, but not in the tweet (where it matters).

And posting without attribution is a pretty serious issue. It’s particularly bad for cartoonists, who’ll often find their work with their name missing (in some cases even deliberately cropped out). Passing off someone else’s work as your own isn’t just lazy, it’s pretty shady and not funny.

I also don’t like The Poke because of the emphasis on photo/video. Great jokes can be told just through words. I know people HATE reading. But some written jokes can actually make you laugh at loud. Here are some I’ve LOLed at, in real life:

Funny stuff, right? And ORIGINAL too.

The Poke currently has 175k followers.

IN CONCLUSION, there wasn’t really a direct point to this rant. But what I’m trying to articulate through the above two case studies is that there’s an unfortunate tendency on Twitter for lazy, derivative jokes to go viral. While actual quality comedy goes under the radar, loved only by a ‘weird twitter’ crowd.

And mostly I’m just annoyed that my own great tweets don’t get the respect they deserve probably.

Follow me on Twitter here: @richardcook2

Or @jokeisntfunny for more of the above spite.

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