Mitra Jouhari is an improviser, writer, and actor living in Brooklyn. She performs improv, sketch, plays, and character stuff all around NYC at a bunch of different theaters/bars (most often at the Annoyance), and she encourages you to come watch! Her play Three Busy Debras, which she wrote with Alyssa Stonoha and Sandy Honig (both alums of this column), starts a run at the Annoyance in late June. She also contributes to Reductress, and you can check her out in some fun lil vids on YouTube if you want to. This week Mitra and I spoke about developing characters through tweets, making connections on Twitter, and writing jokes about important social issues. She also told me about three of her favorite tweets. Check it out:
Jouhari: I really like writing from the perspective of someone who is sad and a little dumb. Also a lot of stuff I tweet/write is sort of a response to the way women are portrayed in the media or making a mockery of condescending marketing towards women, so in this I was thinking about the whole “She’s got it all BUT SHE’S GOT A SECRET” trope, paired with like, the most idiotic thing in the world which is being pregnant with a lizard. I’m very deep!!!!!
Do you ever use your tweets to develop longer pieces?
Yeah! Sometimes I’ll like an idea or a character in a tweet and then expand it to something longer. For example, lately I’ve been tweeting from the perspective of a really sad housewife and usually that’s just a line of really upsetting dialogue about her husband, and that’s something that will probably become a character eventually.
Are there tweets of yours that could never work as longer pieces – either that you’ve tried unsuccessfully to develop into a longer piece or that you can just tell wouldn’t work?
There are definitely tweets that wouldn’t work as longer pieces! Some are just weird premises or things that happened to me that day and I only really have that one line of text to say about it and don’t see any point in trying to develop it into something else.
Some people that I work with were talking about getting messages on LinkedIn and I was just thinking about how silly it was that people could contact complete strangers but call it a “connection,” because when I think about a connection I think about something more emotional and less a transparent attempt at career advancement. And what if all of those weirdos that message you asking about your job were actual real life connections and were just around for major life events? L-O-L
Has Twitter helped you very much with making connections (real, not LinkedIn-style)?
Twitter has actually helped me with making real life connections, which is crazy to me. I met two of my best friends who I write and perform with on a regular basis via Twitter. I definitely did not initially consider Twitter to be a place where I could A: meet anyone or B: potentially get work, but it’s becoming both of those things.
Cause it’s insane how often women apologize for things that don’t warrant an apology!! It’s much easier to tweet silly things about that kind of stuff than to go on an 8 paragraph long facebook rant that no one will pay any attention to.
Do you write (or did you ever write) much on other social media/blogging platforms? If so, how is your Twitter presence similar and different?
I don’t really use any other social media/blogging platforms for writing. Most of the other stuff I write is for live shows, unless I’m contributing to a specific website like Reductress, and when I write for that type of thing I’m focusing on writing something that’s appropriate for whatever publication I’m submitting for.
Has the kind of stuff that you write on Twitter changed very much since you started using it? If so, how?
The kind of stuff I write on Twitter has changed drastically since I started using it. Mostly it was like, tweets about things that I was doing or things I liked/didn’t like. I treated it more like a terrible blog and less the collection of psychotic, vulgar jokes it is now.
As you tweet are you making a conscious effort to balance silliness with sincerity about issues that are important to you? Is it ever difficult finding the sweet spot between the two?
Definitely! I want to say the things I want to say in a way that is accessible and doesn’t come off as preachy/patronizing. Finding a sweet spot is difficult sometimes when I’m talking about social issues that are really important to me. Sometimes I want to just scream online about things that drive me crazy but in the end I want to make sure what I’m saying isn’t irritating. Ultimately, Twitter is just a silly/fun website so I’m not trying to use it to change the world but I also have a platform to say whatever I want whenever I want so I might as well use it. That being said, I don’t feel like I’m trying to make deep social commentary every time I tweet.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny or Die.