Chris Scott is your friend. He lives, works, writes, gardens, kayaks, and bakes pies in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in Illinois and has never shared a flight with Emmy award winner Edie Falco. He reviews movies he hasn’t actually seen, and he sometimes pretends to be the kid from Jurassic Park, who’s now an adult, at @The_Tim_Murphy. This week Scott spoke with me about three of his favorite tweets, and he told me about turkey trots, toilets, and the protective feelings he gets about certain pieces of writing.
Scott: I’m really bad at remembering tweets I’ve done, but for whatever reason this one sticks with me. It’s a pretty lame joke and, as far as puns go, a big stretch but I’m very protective of it. Like it’s a furry, fragile little pet that I’m responsible for or something. There’s just something about dumb jokes that try a little too hard that really tickles me.
Do you often feel protective of your jokes?
Not at all. I’ll fully admit that a lot of my jokes occupy a space somewhere between ok and awful. I’m just protective of this particular one because a few people have told me, repeatedly, that it’s a really bad joke. So then I feel the need to defend it. On the other hand, a few other people have told me that this joke is good. Those people are right, in my opinion.
Do you think Twitter makes it easy or difficult to be precious about jokes and thoughts?
Difficult, for me. I’m much more protective of short stories and essays I’ve written (which are all flawless by the way) if only because they take a lot more thought and attention and emotional investment, and feel more representative of who I am as a person. For the most part, Twitter – at least for me – is such an ephemeral and unending stream of off-the-cuff silliness that it’s difficult for me to get too precious about any of the jokes I make. Of course, I’d always rather people not make fun of my tweets. And I’ve had people plagiarize my tweets before, and I’d rather they not do that either. But there’s a lot of things I’d rather people not do, like drive aggressively, or kill elephants for their tusks, or refuse to flush after using a public restroom, which is absolutely insane to me that full grown adults still do this, in the year 2015. Like I go to a toilet, which everybody uses, and I have to literally flush someone else’s urine because they didn’t feel like doing it themselves, or they just don’t give a shit about anybody else? It’s madness. Nothing is more baffling to me. Anyway, I have a whole list on my computer.
This is one of a very few occasions that I can recall actually conceiving of a joke and taking a minute to try to get it right. What I like about Twitter is that it’s very low-maintenance, and you can see or hear or think of something amusing on-the-fly, tweet it, and forget it. It all takes a few seconds. I’ve never done standup comedy before but I have huge admiration for people who do. I just don’t have much experience sitting down and constructing a joke in a way that maximizes the humor.
Have you noticed the way you tweet change over time/if so, how?
I honestly haven’t paid close enough attention, but I doubt it’s changed too much. When I had fewer followers I did feel a little more free to do shit that was funny only to me. For example, and this is true, I spent a couple months in the fall of 2012 training for the Alexandria Turkey Trot 5-miler in Virginia, and I did a thing where I tweeted only about the Alexandria Turkey Trot for a month and literally nothing else. Every day was just a dozen or thirty tweets about the turkey trot, and they got progressively more unhinged and obsessed with each passing day. Some friends who knew me were in on the joke, but to most people who didn’t know me, I probably came across as this mild-mannered guy who out of the clear blue sky one day decided to devote 100% of his attention, hopes, dreams, and fears to the annual Alexandria Turkey Trot for no real reason at all. I lost a lot of followers, and people explicitly asked me to stop, and pretty much nobody thought it was funny except for me. But me was all I needed then, you know?
How do you think your tone and style on Twitter compare to your voice in other writing and in real life?
I sense that I’m a little more reserved in real life than on Twitter, but I’m not sure. I get that a lot of social media is vanity and performance and presenting an ideal version of yourself to the world, but it would be exhausting, I think, to create a persona on Twitter that’s vastly different from who you are in real life. And I’ve had the good fortune of getting to meet a handful of people in real life who I first met on Twitter and on every occasion they’ve been just as delightful and smart and hilarious as they came across on Twitter. Not that I’m saying I’m delightful and smart and hilarious. That’s really up to other people to say, as often and to as many of their friends as possible.
For no reason whatsoever, this is my favorite tweet. There’s no joke or innuendo or double meaning here. What inspired it is I was at a gas station by the highway on a trip and there were these semis going by and without really realizing it, I pointed at one of the semis and the trucker pointed back at me. Just two guys pointing at each other. I don’t know. I like semis and truckers I guess? What I like most about this tweet though is that there were people just scrolling through their Twitter feeds and here’s some articles and news events and opinions and jokes, and then here’s this guy just flat out declaring that sometimes he points at trucks. You read it and now you can’t unread it. It’s just there along with everything else.
Would you say it’s more gratifying to tweet out earnest non jokes like this one or jokes?
I don’t know that I would describe any tweet I’ve ever done as particularly gratifying. I know that the people I most enjoy following are good at mixing it up, so it’s not all jokes all the time. So sometimes I’ll throw out an opinion about a book or an album or a TV show, and nobody cares at all, but I’ll just put it out there for the hell of it, just to see what happens. “American Horror Story is bad.” “This Vince Staples record is excellent.” And so forth. And then other times I’ll just point at trucks.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.