Alyssa Stonoha goes to college in New York City. She writes for the Livia Scott Sketch Program at UCB Chelsea in New York and performs at UCB and around town with her improv team Black Sabbath. Perhaps most notably, Stonoha appears semi-regularly on everyone’s favorite public access late night program The Chris Gethard Show and even guest hosted an episode-long tribute to Beyonce in April 2013 when Gethard was out of town. On Twitter, Stonoha (@astonoha) is aggressive, smart, and uniquely funny, and she talked to me this week about some characters she likes to tweet as, how Twitter has changed for her in the years she’s been on it, and why it’s fun to tweet as a teenage misandrist.
Stonoha: This is a really great in-between for my tweets, or just my personality in general, because I tend to say things that are boy-crazy and also very aggressively misandrist. Even when I improvise, and obviously nothing is pre-planned, I almost always end up playing a teenaged girl and/or an aggressive, scary person. I like the crossroads of weird aggression and teen girls because I like to assert my dominance over the rest of the population as a teen girl. Teen girls are smart and intense and are looked down upon by people because people are actually afraid of us and of what teen girls would do if we all knew how much power we truly have.
I feel like “teens” and “aggression” on their own are very much at home on Twitter. Are there other tropes that you’ve found work particularly well on Twitter or that combine as seamlessly as teens + aggression?
I think something that’s really funny is tweeting as a content adult, and a frustrated businessperson. Like, an adult who tweets about being happy because she has many friends is so banal and probably forced, so I like to also tweet in that voice. And I like to tweet as a businessperson who is frustrated by the economy and his/her boss. Both of these types of people, to me, care a lot about social media and think tweets are important. Like, the “happy woman” loves interacting with others on Twitter, and the businessperson makes money off of his/her tweets. I think that’s the silliest thing because part of me does get excited by some social media interactions and I hate myself for it, and also there’s nothing more hilariously boring than tweets about tweeting.
Has the way you use Twitter changed very much since you first joined?
I believe I first joined Twitter in 2009. I was a freshman in high school. Honestly, I wish I could delete those tweets. Maybe I can and I just don’t know how. I think I just tweeted the way most high schoolers do—just about what’s going on, and complaining about school. Really the only overlap was tweeting about Beyonce. The way I use Twitter now has changed exponentially, because I don’t think jokes even crossed my mind until Sophomore year.
Have you had to deal with people misunderstanding your use of aggression or misandry online?
Oh, almost every time I tweet something misandrist I get attacked. It feeds itself in an infinite loop. To me, misandry is the highest form of comedy. I can simply tweet “#killallmen” and get responses from men who just search that hashtag to attack people who use it. I’ll get told I should kill myself or that I’m a “stupid bitch” or what have you. I kind of love it. Most times, the men who attack me say things like, “You women want equality and hate sexism but then say kill all men? That is sexism and you’re a dumb whore.” And I always think to myself, “Why are you assuming I’m not saying this from a sexist point of view? What is indicating to you that I’m trying to not be sexist?” But I’ve learned to not engage with these terrifying men because they just don’t get it or stop.
I sometime slip into these weird characters on Twitter, and the weird characters are usually, at least in my head, idiot men. I like to tweet from the point of view of an aggressive man who loves guns and is worked too hard in his office job. He loves his cop friends and crackin’ open a tall one with his toddler son, and is really straightforward about his interests. It’s this kind of idiocy that makes me glad Twitter exists, because the self-reflection I am experiencing while writing this blurb is making me realize that actually I’m the idiot.
What do some of your other favorite characters do, and are there ones that work only on Twitter? What about ones that work in person but not on Twitter?
Well, I also do the person who gets paid to tweet and is economically aware. I went through a pretty big Facebook/Twitter phase in the voice of someone who cares a lot about the M&Ms characters. That will sometimes pop up. I kind of just randomly start things and then eventually get bored of them, or not.
Otherwise, characters I write in sketches or improvise are all based heavily on the world around them and are totally different things from Twitter for me. The characters on Twitter are often from bits I do with my friends or whoever, but are totally separate from improv and sketch. Especially in improv, if I have a strong character in a scene, it’s as much based on every choice my scene partner makes as it is on my choices. So, Twitter is really just a place to do the most simple, silliest 140 character stuff.
Now, this tweet is all me. I mean, I didn’t actually throw a fist-fight party. But this came from two real experiences. First, earlier in the night that I tweeted this, I had an improv show, and right before we went out I tried to get everyone to make our entire set an actual, organized fist fight between the improvisers. Secondly, I went to some dumb party a few weeks before and this boy made fun of me within earshot so I tried to start a fight with him and he couldn’t even look me in the eyes, so I left. So, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll get gems like these based on real life (and a LOT of tweets about Beyonce that fall on deaf ears). A WHOLE LOT OF BACK STORY FOR ONE SMALL TWEET THAT NO ONE CARES ABOUT!
How often would you say your tweets are reacting to something from your real life vs coming from somewhere purely fictional?
It’s probably 50/50. When I use stuff from real life, sometimes I’m not smart enough about it to put it as a joke so I’ll just tweet something that happened. Like, I remember one time just tweeting that my dad ate a handful of mulling spices because he thought they were chocolate chips. That was funny enough to me that I thought it should be shared. Or I’ll say (a lot) about how much I love Beyonce. Sometime I’ll put it in the form of a joke or sometimes it will be inarticulate spewing or sometimes it’ll just be genuine. Or I’ll posit a question/thought that I’m having because it is genuinely interesting to talk with people, even if in small increments.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about being on Twitter?
My favorite thing about Twitter is that a way someone tweets can be enough to get their vibe and know what they’re like, and that it has allowed me to interact with some really rad people. My least favorite thing is that sometimes people don’t know what’s an appropriate way to interact with a teen girl because it’s such a shortform interaction with the comfort of anonymity. Also that it has consumed too much brainspace and time and it’s hard to go far back and delete things.
Jenny Nelson writes and lives in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.