Riane Konc is a Midwest-based writer who contributes frequently to The New Yorker and occasionally to Reductress, McSweeney’s, The New York Times, The Rumpus’ Funny Women, and other places on the Internet. You can find more of her work at www.rianekonc.com.
Konc is escaping the Midwest for one weekend in March, so if you’re in NYC, you can see her reading March 11th at The Corners in Brooklyn, March 12th at (Le) Poisson Rouge, and the rest of the time probably somewhere on the sidewalk, looking vaguely overwhelmed!
Me my entire life: Barely realizes snowboarding existsMe 2 days into the Olympics: If McMorris thinks he’s getting on the podium with anything less than a clean 1620 toe grab, he’s a fool — Riane Konc (@theillustrious) February 11, 2018
Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become good at something, but what he doesn’t mention is that it takes about 20 minutes of watching TV to know everything about whatever Olympic sport is on. This is the first viral tweet of my Twitter life, and for those wondering what it’s like when you have a tweet go viral, I can now confidently assure you that absolutely nothing in my life has changed whatsoever, except that I have earned the respect of my teenaged nieces and nephews, and there’s a lot of “Is Ellen gonna invite you on her show?” in my siblings’ group chat. Ellen is not going to invite me on her show, but I have earned the respect of teens, which is all I’ve been after this whole time anyway.
What kind of writing do you most enjoy? (genre, style, length, etc)
To be extremely specific, I think I am at my top functioning when writing a 600-800-word piece where the central joke is something about John Steinbeck. I have, so far, tricked three entire publications into publishing my Steinbeck jokes, which feels way too high. If it’s not Steinbeck (slash general literary humor), I like the Jack Handey school of comedy writing, where what you’re writing is extremely pure and insular and weird and harmless and buoyant and references martians or cowboys as much as possible.
Homer and Virgil high-five. “Epic poem, bro.” — Riane Konc (@theillustrious) March 20, 2014
Besides being a shoutout to my high school Latin teacher (hi, Mrs. Walls), I love the idea of these two bro-ing it up, just absolutely going bonkers in their support of the other’s self-same efforts to create a shared mythology in hexametered verse.
What do you enjoy most and get out of being on Twitter?
I cannot be more clear on this: Twitter has indisputably lowered my quality of living. I have a folder on my phone’s home screen called “GET OFF TWITTER,” and it’s all these lovely meditation apps and trivia apps and things that could make me a better, calmer person, but instead, I scroll through Twitter all day and feel like I’m going to die. That being said, weird and funny Twitter is very weird and funny, and it makes me extremely happy that – for example – thousands of people on Twitter just decided that they were going to riff on a William Carlos Williams poem for several weeks.
I can barely shower myself twice a week but yeah I’m gonna wash a potato— Riane Konc (@theillustrious) November 7, 2016
This is also a deeply realistic tweet. I was making dinner, and I remember holding a potato over the sink in disgust, just looking at it and thinking, “I haven’t showered in days, but I’m supposed to give you a sink shower right before I put you in a stove bath? You think you’re better than me, fancy boy?” It was obviously written during a time of peak mental health.
Are there any topics that you find yourself tweeting about more often?
I am a pretty inconsistent tweeter and don’t think I really have a brand, unless that brand is “unsuccessfully trying on a variety of Twitter personas and also sharing links to my writing.” Although since I’ve had the most success with an Olympics-related tweet, I think I am probably going to pivot into 100% winter Olympics jokes, 100% of the time.
If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, maybe you’ll get your sheriff job back and no hard feelings? — Riane Konc (@theillustrious) March 25, 2014
The sheriff in this tweet is (obviously) fictional, but I have thought of him often and imagine him as just the sweetest, dumbest boy who read some bad inspirational quotes on the Internet and was like, “Oh, I am absolutely going to apply these rules in the workplace” and then immediately was like, “Oh no.” Poor, sweet, dumb sheriff. I feel so fond of him. He does not exist.
Who are some people you enjoy following, or whose voices have perhaps influenced your own?
The Toast (RIP) was enormously influential on me as a writer and as a reader, and it lives on in a small way through Mallory Ortberg, Nicole Cliffe, and Nicole Chung’s respective Twitter feeds. I’m a very simple person: give me a good account (like @sickofwolves or @ProBirdRights) where the entire gimmick is an animal trying very hard to pass as a human, and I’m happy.
Karen Chee is a is a writer/performer who contributes regularly to The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.