Talking to @70ceeks About Inoffense and Getting Started on Twitter

On Twitter you might mainly know her as a Muppet baby, but @70ceeks a.k.a. ceeks a.k.a. Claire is a graphic designer living in DC with her husband, daughter, son, dog, and two cats. This week I spoke with her about three of her favorite tweets. We talked about transitioning from reading Twitter jokes to writing them, plus family, continuity, and people getting her references.

ceeks: I’ve been consuming comedy my whole life and about a year ago, I started replying to tweets and then writing my own. This was my first to get more than five likes and since my family doesn’t follow me, that meant that strangers thought it was good… and I thought THAT… was good. I love the idea of a hardass just dominating the drive thru. The replies on this one have been amazing too, ranging from, “OMG THIS IS ME!!!” to “I don’t get it.”

Can you describe the transition from replying tweets to writing your own?

When I first joined Twitter, the only people I followed were well-known comedians, DC athletes, and Bravo celebrities. I had no followers and I never tweeted. In the fall of 2014, there seemed to be a nonstop horrible news cycle. Facebook had become a hellscape of family and friends arguing over ISIS, Ebola, Ferguson and the election. I realized that a couple of my oldest friends have terrible opinions so I turned to Twitter (the bastion of good opinions) for a much needed diversion. I started following more and more joke accounts and once I got my nerve up, I started replying to them. People were overwhelmingly nice. Some replied back, some followed back, and some became friends. Once I had a couple followers, I had the confidence to try to come up with my own jokes. A few kind souls would hold contests or call for tweets from small accounts and I would send in mine to hopefully be retweeted. That’s a good way to get started, but Twitter becomes exponentially more rewarding once you stop looking at it as a numbers game.

What has your experience been like making friends on Twitter?

Having lived much of my life pre-social media, making friends online wasn’t even really on my radar, so I was surprised by how naturally it happened. I was added to group chats and there I found a handful of people whose humor/sensibilities/priorities aligned with my own and now I talk to these people everyday. I work from home and my kids are in school all day so I thrive on the interaction. These are some of the funniest people I have never met, but as often as they make me laugh, they make me think. As often as we discuss butts, we discuss the criminal justice system. I have a big family and irl friends (promise), but my daily life is fairly insular, so hearing the varying viewpoints and experiences of people born in different decades, living on different continents, with vastly different arses has been a gift.

Though I once was a teenager embarrassed by my parents, and am currently a mom who occasionally looks up words on urbandictionary, I most closely relate to Nona, the unsung hero of this tweet. I like to think of her post-lunch, half in the bag, back at the leisure center crushing at bingo.

Do you have a writing background? How, if at all, has being on Twitter affected your writing off of Twitter?

I don’t have a writing background… yet. I work as a graphic designer, making logos and stationery. I enjoy it, but it isn’t exactly thrilling. It has always been a dream of mine to write comedy, but I never wrote anything until I started tweeting. My sense of humor is mainly shaped by two things. The first is being from a large Irish family full of smartasses. I had to learn at a young age to be quick to be heard. I also learned that if there is someone you consider hilarious and you can make them laugh, there’s no better feeling. Two of my cousins are comedy writers and I have such respect for their hard work and dedication. The other life event that shaped my sense of humor was my parents’ getting cable. Somehow, this didn’t occur until 1990, but once it did, I don’t think I slept for a week straight. Overnight I went from subsisting on Married with Children reruns and episodes of Studs to having two comedy networks, Ha! and the Comedy Channel, which I watched religiously. A perk of being older is that I had no smartphone to distract me from watching six hours a day of pure unadulterated comedy, mostly standup and old SNL episodes.

When you do a refillable tweet format like a dialogue or a musical tweet, do you usually decide on the subject matter first or the format?

All of my tweets are subject matter first – they just come to me. Whether it’s a song, a list, a three word comment, a photo caption, a conversation, or the rare political joke, I’ll see or hear something and then I think of a tweet. The conversational ones can be overused, so I only use that format if I think I can bring something new to it. If I try to force a joke it almost always bombs. If I think it’s funny I’ll save a draft of it for later, but in my experience if it bombs the first time, it bombs the second.

Do you have a favorite format for tweets?

I don’t have a favorite format. I’m all over the place and my favorite tweeters have nothing in common with each other. I could probably have more followers if there was more continuity to my tweets, but I like not being beholden to any one style. Being relatively anonymous helps here. People are less likely to try to pigeonhole a muppet baby’s sense of humor than they would a thirty-something lady’s. A stuffed dog can also get away with a concerning amount of emoji usage. I like that I am added to lists with names like, “Funny F*ckers” and not “MomJokes”. The only common thread among my tweets is probably attempted inoffense. For the most part, I’m not a big fan of raunch, but I can see it’s value and have respect for others who know how to use it. I’d say my account is probably a hard PG-13, an 80’s PG.

I can’t play an instrument and I have a garbage singing voice, but I do like to make musical tweets. I’ve done a few song parodies and make a lot of musical references, many of which are outdated like myself. If you somehow fall into the barely perceptible overlap of the Venn diagram of people who are familiar with both Kip Winger and Tyga, have I got a tweet for you.

What’s the most surprised you’ve been at people responding/relating to a reference you thought was outdated or obscure?

I did a side by side of doppelgangers Mr. Slate from the Flintstones (introduced in 1960) and Mr. Cogswell from the Jetsons (introduced in 1963) and captioned it with: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” – The Who (1971). I liked it and some people I think are hilarious did too.

Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.

Talking to @70ceeks About Inoffense and Getting […]