Avery Monsen is a writer, illustrator, and actor living in Los Angeles. He illustrated and co-wrote the book All My Friends Are Dead, wrote for the third season of Billy on the Street, and has performed at UCB in New York. And, as mentioned in a recent article on this site about the short-format comedy of Instagram and Vine, another thing about Monsen is that he’s really good at Vine. I recently talked with Monsen about three of his favorite tweets, what it’s like being on Vine, and the kinds of dumb things that people post and like on Twitter.
Monsen: I love that we’re living in a time where we can come up with a stupid idea, make it, and share it with thousands of strangers, all within a few minutes. For example: I thought it’d be funny to Photoshop pictures of celebrities riding bikes so it’d look like they were riding delicious Subway sandwiches. That’s a stupid idea, yes. I made “Usher Rides A Meatball Sub,” “Owen Wilson Rides A Bacon, Egg & Cheese On Flatbread” and then got bored and stopped. Classic comedy Rule of Twos.
Are there other tweets you’ve envisioned as a series that you ended up stopping? Are there series or themes that you’ve kept going with and that you especially like?
When I was a little kid, I’d learn a joke and tell it over and over again. Eventually, my parents sat me down and said, “When you repeat things, they become less funny.” I absolutely see why they said that — children are monsters and it’s important to cut them down any chance you get — but comedy-wise, I think they were only half right. Things do get less funny if you repeat them, but if you push through that unfunny stage, they get funny again. Then, unfortunately, they get unfunny again. Then funny again! Then unfunny again. Then funny again! Then unfunny again. Then funny again! Then unfunny again. Then, eventually, you pass away and are forgotten. To answer your question: for a while, I had a series of tweets about trying to get a group of babies to do choreography. Twitter is silly.
Do you think without Twitter you’d have a suitable place to share (or reason to make) Photoshopped ideas like these? If you’re asking whether I’d be sitting on the sidewalk, begging strangers to look at drawings of celebrities riding sandwiches, I think that’s insulting and the answer is yes.
Another bizarre idea, brought into reality because I have lots of free time on my hands. What you don’t see here is that my girlfriend, Erin, is crouching next to me in a black spandex bodysuit — invisible in front of the black backdrop — puppeteering the fake legs. Also, this was in July in New York and our apartment was hot as hell. What I’m saying is: she’s a saint for helping me with this and if you don’t retweet it, her struggle will have been for naught.
How did you get involved with using Vine as a platform for comedy? How does that compare to how you got into Twitter?
Vine is a tricky place. Its users tend to be younger than Twitter’s, which means that a lot of the most popular stuff is just teenage boys screaming. Whereas Twitter has poets and comedians who push the medium to interesting new places, Vine really just has a LOT of teenage boys screaming.
But if you look under the radar a little — steer away from the popular page — there are some great people on Vine: Ted Travelstead, Marlo Meekins, Simply Sylvio, Nick Gallo, Alicia Herber, keelayjams. They’re doing funny, weird, visually appealing stuff. It look a bit longer to find folks I connected with on Vine, but they’re definitely there.
Do you ever have ideas that early on you think could work equally well as a tweet or a vine, or is the difference between those two kinds of ideas pretty clear from the start?
For the most part, there’s not too much crossover. Most of my Vines have no words; they’re just strange little vignettes. An exception is when I did 100 IDEAS and 100 EMOJIS. A lot of those ideas were potential tweets I’d been throwing around.
I’ve never seen Three Ninjas.
How much knowledge do you have to have about a subject before you tweet about it?
To be honest, the tweet isn’t even about “Three Ninjas” as much as it’s about stupid, uncreative movie titles. You don’t need to know anything about the movie to understand it. My point is: I’m dumb and the people that like my tweets are dumb, too.
Jenny Nelson is a writer living in Brooklyn.