Spark Salon Conversation Starters

July 12, 2013

Twitter, Fish Sticks, and the Future of Comedy

Comedian Megan Amram writes about comedy in the 21st century—on her phone, in her car, on the way to buy dipping sauce.

Megan Amram is a comedian and writer on the NBC series Parks and Recreation

First of all, let me apologize for any typos. I’m writing this essay from my phone while driving to Trader Joe’s to buy some Soyaki sauce for my homemade artisanal fish sticks. They took a week to make. Only typing at red lights, however. Safety first!

Okay—comedy and technology. In 2013, being a comedian or writer without using the Internet or a mobile device is like being a fish and not using whatever fish-Internet they have under the ocean or freshwater lake. Technology—including Twitter, YouTube, cell phones, etc.—has completely revolutionized comedy. Everything is about phones and the web these days. I’ve even updated a classic comedy-joke to reflect the state of 2013 comedy: “A nun, a priest, and a rabbi walk into a bar. They’re all looking at their smartphones….”

Tweeting My Way to Comedy Dominance

I started in comedy a few years ago, and my entire career has been relied on technology. As a young nobody, I started writing jokes on my Twitter account. It was only going to be for my own purposes. I wanted a way to practice writing everyday, and I figured Twitter would force me to do so. Little did I know that it would become the most influential aspect of my career, and the third-most influential aspect of my carpal tunnel syndrome (behind making and eating homemade artisanal fish sticks.)

After a few months of tweeting, I randomly and crazily-luckily developed a small following, including comedy writers and comedians in Los Angeles. My first job—writing for the 2011 Academy Awards—came about when the head writer that year began reading my tweets and thought the jokes were good enough for the big leagues. Since then, all my professional comedy jobs have been informed by the ever-growing portfolio of jokes and pieces that I post on Twitter and my blog.

(BTW, just got home. Eating those fish sticks! Finally! They are truly delicious. Wish you could all be here and try them. #blessed).

Telling It on the Mountain

Connectivity means you can spread your voice from any city in America. Don’t get me wrong; I love Los Angeles. It’s amazing to know that you could be hit by Liv Tyler’s or Mark Ruffalo’s personal trainer’s limo driver at any time! But the fact that someone in Delaware or Washington or Alaska or Louisiana or a volcano or a regular mountain with Wi-Fi can also be seen by millions of people online is a wonderful, freeing aspect of the 21st century.

Even well-established comics and writers are joining in the Internet dialogue. One of the most appealing things about being on Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram is the ability to have conversations and joke around with celebrities and comedic heroes (conversely, the ability to interact with your celebrity laughing stocks). Give ol’ @RealDonaldTrump a try. Razz him good. 

Laugh While You Can

Comedy has always been about recognizing a current mode of communication and turning it on its head. Vaudeville had to transition to talkies at some point, and now, in the 21st century, stand-ups and TV/movie stars have to jump to social media. And then someday someone will invent a process that beams the Internet directly into your retinas, at which point the YouTube stars will have to learn how to be funny on EyeBeam (my name, do not effing steal it). And then EyeBeam will be replaced by a comedy pill that you take once a day and laugh for exactly 69 minutes every day for no reason; I don’t know if anyone’s going to be a star of that. Comedy will be officially over. So enjoy it while you can.

I can’t wait to see what comes next for comedy. It’s wonderful to see how the comedy landscape is revolutionized by how we as humans interact with each other. And I doubly can’t wait to see what happens with my fish sticks. One has been on the grill this entire time and it’s full-on engulfed in flames. It’s starting to spread to the rest of my kitchen now. Yep, there goes the kitchen table. What an exciting time to be a comedian!

This article is commissioned by Qualcomm Incorporated. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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