Yesterday, Lisa Cohen, founder of WitStream, the aggregating comedy ticker site, issued this advice to all people who try to be funny on Twitter: Stop sucking Favstar’s dick. The suggestion was the headline of an editorial that makes this keen observation: comedians who depend on various forms of social networking (especially Twitter) have let the Internet affect their comedy.
Cohen writes: “The challenge for writers is to fight the overwhelming desire to A) draw conclusions about your success/failure/self-worth, and B) adjust accordingly. It’s the “needy underbelly” of Twitter, and it’s detrimental to your creative health.”
For those unfamiliar with Favstar, it’s an extension of Twitter that shows how many times a tweet has been favorited or retweeted, supposedly showing a numerical response, which is why the issue of “sucking Favstar’s dick” comes up.
Another point needs to be made.
Favstar is far from a sure fire way to gauge how good a joke is, especially if it’s performed live. One can’t sense timing, delivery, stage presence from a tweet, even though some at the forefront of being funny on Twitter like Andrés Du Bouchet (Staff Writer on Conan) and Megan Amram (On nearly every list of funny women to follow on Twitter) have found a comedic voice in less than 140 characters. Still, it’s it’s vastly different from what they do on stage.
Yet, comedians use their tweets on stage all the time because of Favstar and the high marks a tweet of theirs received. The same goes with status updates on Facebook and number of comments or “likes” they get.
Ironically enough, a popular sentiment on Twitter from comedians is that if you’re only funny on Twitter and don’t perform, do not call yourself a comedian. Performing live adds a whole set of brush strokes that color humor with much more complexity than a tweet could ever offer. In fact, a terrible pun could made be funny with the right delivery and timing.
I’m sure that whoever wrote Jay Leno’s Casey Anthony joke (watch below) which was indeed met with silence two nights ago thought it was a decent joke on paper just like the infamous Tibet-Groupon commercial from this year’s Super Bowl, but being on funny on paper (or a small screen) is just exactly that.