Monday, September 28, 2009


Sometime in early 2009, I became a full-blown Twitter user. While this is not something that any sane person would ever be proud of, these are the facts and I lay them at your mercy.*

Despite what you might believe, Twitter CAN be useful. It can help you track news event in real time, you get a liiiittle too close to the inner workings of politicians mind and, most importantly, it's a comedy one-liner's dream come true. Most of my favorite semi-famous comedy folks are on Twitter and are excellent aggregates of the work of other people in comedy.

One of my favorite living semi-lebrity/comedy mastermind is Mr. John Hodgman, who sadly most of you only know as "PC" from the Mac ads or possibly from the occasional Daily Show appearance. (There is more, and it would behoove you to check it out.) Being a big Hodgman fan, I always follow his recommendations and have been greatly reward.

One such reward has been the discovery has been the works of Jesse Thorn at Jesse is the host of the interview program The Sound of Young America, which is taped in his home and then syndicated to various NPR stations around the country. His interview style is relate-able, thoughtful and focused on the things that interest him: hip-hop, rap, comedy and design.

My favorite MaxFun program, however, is Jordan, Jesse, GO! a "freewheeling comedy podcast" co-hosted with Jesse's longtime friend Jordan Morris. It's hard to describe other than to say it's full of anecdotes and general nonsense. It's been so fun to listen through the show's archives (available for free on iTunes) and to look forward to a new installment every week or so.

One of the things that is difficult about being a fan of comedy while not actually being a creative person is that you can remember and repeat jokes without actually being funny. So many of the laughs that I get come from repeating jokes from a TV show, wherein the reference itself is funny but the line isn't. The same goes for my listening of JJGo. It has totally changed the way I speak in an attempt to get laughs out of people, espeically in a "networking"-ish social setting.

Being silly isn't en vouge anymore, which is probably why I love JJGo so much. A recurring joke between Jordan and Jesse is to discuss a topic, then totally derail the conversation by saying words that are related or even just sound like the topic at hand.

A good example of how much this has influced my day-to-day sentence structure is this conversation I had with my pal and fellow JJGo convert Erin via g-chat during lunch today. To wit:

(Context: we were talking about writing a screenplay around the character Bionic Brother, because my brother had a pin put in his pinky finger today)

Erin: I see a blockbuster in your future
me: well, there you go
Erin: you could make tens of dollars!!
me: pennies and pennies!
Erin: tuppence?
me: ha'penny? a guinea?
Erin: chocolate coin
me: oh, that's right. that's what I was thinking.

Pretty ridiculous, right? And yet, it's almost verbatim what you would hear in a typical conversation between Jordan and Jesse during a podcast.

This leaves me conflicted, because on one hand I like to expand my comedy horizons and keep changin' it up. On the other hand, it points out how none of my humor is original and is a mediocre copy of another man's genius (remember that line from the 1994 Little Women?!). All it all, it leads me to being the "funny guy at the office" rather than "that amazingly funny person who we all know and love."

*I've been watching Showtime's The Tudors lately, and it has also affected the general style and rhythm of my speech.