Zach Broussard is an actor and stand-up comedian living in Los Angeles. In the past, Broussard’s performed both stand-up and sketch regularly at the UCB Theater in New York and has created and appeared in several web series. This week I talked to Broussard about topical jokes, collaborating on Twitter, and two of his tweets that he turned into relatively grand presentations. Stay tuned for a good Borat joke, too!
Broussard: I came up with this one a few weeks before 4/20 landed on Easter. But since the amount of topical jokes can get overwhelming, I wanted to give mine a leg up. So, for about 10 days, I teased the tweet, wrote dramatic Facebook posts, and hosted a make-shift AMA about the tweet. I constantly reminded people that tweets are free, so it didn’t cost them anything to check it out on Twitter.com. It was completely shameless (and pointless) but people got into it! We even reached 420 retweets, a goal I just sort of made up at some point.
What do you think of topical tweets, both on Twitter as a whole and specifically in your own tweets?
Late night monologues were always my favorite thing on television, so I’m definitely a fan. My favorite time is election season, because the jokes have more weight and aren’t just vicious jabs at Renée Zellweger or whatever. That being said, I just moved to Los Angeles and I’m tweeting waaaay more about pop culture stuff because I’m driving and listening to the radio for the first time in 8 years. I now know who Ariana Grande is and I’ve never felt more alive!
Did you learn anything interesting from the experience of building up a tweet so much?
I learned that people are really into having a dumb, fun time during their work day. I’m so focused on doing standup or sketch shows at night, I sort of stumbled on an eager audience and it was a blast. Felt like I was putting on a comedy show just for people killing time at their jobs. Really fun.
I think this tweet has gone further than any other tweet. Not only did I start using this joke in my standup act, I even released it on compact disc as a single. I had been kicking around the idea of releasing a comedy single for a while, sort of a play on dance singles and maybe even a nod to how no one really pays for jokes anymore. So I recorded the joke and had my buddy Chambaland make a dance mix of it. It cost me over $500 to order 100 shrink-wrapped discs of my debut single “Wanna Be A Grandpa” and yes I do still have a few copies available.
Before the 4/20 and single tweets (or since), had you seen anyone else do any kind of creative, grandiose stuff with their tweets?
Yeah, there are lots of people having fun with it. My buddy Nate Fernald started a mailing list where you can sign up to get an email every time he tweets. The email message is usually 10 times longer than the tweet, explaining it in grueling detail. It’s so so great.
Can you talk more about how you came up with these ideas? Have you ever started to do something big with a tweet but then lost interest or backed off of it?
That’s where having funny friends/partners really comes in. My girlfriend was very into the single idea. She basically told me I had to do it or she’d dump me, so that gave me just enough confidence to see it through.
Sometimes the heat doesn’t come, though. I once made a YouTube video about “How to Be A Hater” and to promote it I asked people to tweet hateful comments at me and leave hateful comments on the video. Despite how funny I thought that was, some people seemed put off by the negativity. One friend asked me if “everything was alright” and that’s not what I was going for. But a bunch of strangers did tell me I looked like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, so it had its fun moments!
Re: the Chambaland remix, have you collaborated on other things for, or inspired by, Twitter? Do you think Twitter can be good for collaborating?
For the single, someone leaked it on Pirate Bay and my buddy David Hill even tried to sell his copy on Ebay for more money claiming it was a collector’s item. It basically turned into a forum for my friends to be funny too.
Dan Chamberlain really did so much for me. By making a four minute long dance mix of a very dumb joke, he ended up doing more work than I even did. Doesn’t seem fair that I made over $60 in sales when he did all of that work, but people get screwed over in the recording industry all the time I guess. I hope he learned a valuable lesson!
We’ve been told for years that quoting Borat would start being funny again and, folks, that time is now. Embrace it!
Did you like Twitter from the moment you joined or did it take a while for you to find how it worked for you?
I guess I felt compelled to use Twitter this whole time, but only truly enjoyed it once a website asked me for an interview about my tweets. So I really started liking it earlier this week.
Jenny Nelson writes and lives in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.