Blythe Roberson is a contributor to the New Yorker dot com, ClickHole, and The Onion. She co-hosts Life Is Pain the first Tuesday of every month at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and works as a researcher at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. This week Roberson talked to me about three of her favorite tweets, plus One Direction, Nate Silver, and co-writing tweets with friends.
ok how about a show where i’m the Bachelorette but i’m just trying to turn 15 sweet unassuming boys into radical feminists— Blythe Roberson (@blythelikehappy) January 19, 2016
Roberson: I like to pitch TV shows on Twitter because all the big network and cable execs follow me (hi Les Moonves) and are constantly @ replying me begging me to develop shows for them. Other shows I’ve pitched are classic comedy Sex and the City but with jokes, an 1800s version of The Thick of It starring Peter Capaldi as John C. Calhoun, and a late night show where I just read guests’ tarot. So when I do become wildly famous and sign a development deal with HBO I’m not even going to take time to brainstorm, I’m just gonna look at my Twitter and like, pitch these. Also I just started watching The Bachelor this season because my boss really likes it and I’m just AMAZED by how quickly I went from not caring about it to spending two hours every week shrieking at the TV. Obviously it’s really fundamentally sexist and racist so I would love to fix it by having me, a little nightmare radical, try to turn 15 boys into little socialist feminists with the power of my amazing looks + personality. Do you ever use Twitter as a way to workshop or brainstorm bigger pieces? Haha yeah I just discovered Twitter Advanced Search like a month ago, so I’ve been using it to find any jokes I already wrote and plug them into pieces. I’m working on a book proposal so I literally searched my Twitter for tweets containing the words “book,” “memoir,” or “road trip.” It feels really Nate Silver-y. When you’re tweeting, how important to you are feedback and conversation? Most tweets I don’t anticipate or want anyone to respond to, and I’m not one of the biggest “Twitter as a social network” people, but there are tweets I definitely put out there and am like, this one’s for Fran (@franhoepfner). (Fran I love you.) I never really talked to people via tweeting until I started tweeting with Fran, Aubrey (who has also done this column), @caitiedelaney, @iluvbutts247, and @tommphilip about Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller and it’s nice to know that if I come across an Instagram of Ansel playing piano and singing I have somewhere to put the feelings that causes me.
saw this photo and fantasized for the next 3 hours about abandoning Jonathan Franzen on the side of the road pic.twitter.com/4JxRmvIlrj — Blythe Roberson (@blythelikehappy) October 16, 2015
Someone suggested to me recently that it’s cliche to hate Jonathan Franzen but I don’t think it is if you really feel it in your heart. In my mind the nemesis relationship I have with Franzen is very layered and playful. My friend Owen sent me the article this pic is from and I screamed.
Are there any other subjects you are passionate about in a way that feels cliche, and if so how do you navigate that (on the Internet or in general!)?
Right now I cannot stop talking and tweeting about the boys from One Direction, specifically Harry Styles, my celeb crush and dopplegänger. The fun thing about being obsessed with them is that most people actively don’t like 1D (because patriarchy has taught them to reflexively hate anything made for young women IMHO!!!!!) OR they love 1D and have already written beautiful, lyrical thinkpieces about it. So in a way 1D is both uncool and so cool that it’s played out. But I think the key to becoming a happy, healthy person is to completely ignore what anyone else thinks and just live your joy for YOU so, I continue to tweet about 1D every day and talk about Harry Styles on every date I go on. There’s some quote that writing is about figuring out what your obsessions are and making them interesting to other people, but for me it’s just about figuring out what your obsessions are and anyone who doesn’t care about them can mute me :)
[takes dick out of mouth] “wait is this a date?”— Blythe Roberson (@blythelikehappy) September 6, 2015
This tweet is a crowd pleaser so I had to include it even though it will make my parents unspeakably sad if they read this article. Dating is a nightmare, in the future no guys will allow themselves to be described as a “boyfriend,” etc etc. I have never, to my knowledge, been on a date before, so it’s only when I’m like actually kissing someone that I realize “Oh maybe this wasn’t just friend drinks.”
This tweet was co-written while camping with a bunch of my friends in the Catskills which is also why it is so special to me. We had barely any cell signal but I spent 30 min finding signal to make sure it tweeted and then spent the rest of the night seeing if it was getting any faves.
Do your parents know about/talk to you about your Twitter?
My parents are aware of my Twitter but I think they prefer to ignore it. My mom actually signed up for Twitter and followed my brother but not me, and I lobbied for her to follow me, and when she did she unfollowed me a week later. I mean, I get it. My dad doesn’t have Twitter but he is a professor, and I guess some of his students follow me (WHO ARE YOU?!?!) and will tell him when I tweet about him. Whenever I’m home he’ll say something so on-game of being a dad and will be like “Don’t put this on Tweeter” but I’ll be like “I have to, Dad, it’s for my career.”
How often do you collaborate on tweets and how exactly does that usually go down?
I think this came out of all of us discussing a date I went on that I was so sure was a date, but didn’t end up being one, so we were all riffing and when I said this I was like, Hallie you should tweet that! And she was like, no, you should tweet that. Because everyone I know is a comedian all of our conversations are just bits and when you want to tweet something inspired by those bits it’s like, “WHO REALLY OWNS IT?!” Ultimately who cares lol, it’s a tweet.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.