Amy Zimmer (@oneamyzimmer) is a writer and comedian living in New York. She is deeply online. If you like her tweets, you can also find her on Instagram at @aezimmer_. And if you don’t like her tweets, why not try her Instagram @aezimmer_ instead?
This week, Zimmer talked with me about enjoying deranged jokes, writing from a gullible perspective, and keeping things brief.
Purest thought I’ve ever had. One day, my very thoughtless brain, I mean just still as a pond, just wind whistling through, really so amazingly empty … anyway, suddenly this sentence ran through it like a marquee, and I typed it out. I rarely tweet so quickly. But this? This was like water. And water, as scientists are now confirming, helps make bread. And bread? Well, it should have caffeine. This realization has led me to reexamine my entire life — I now realize the delicacy in which everything is connected. Thank you, I love you.
How similar is your online persona to you in real life?
It is and it isn’t? I’m sure most people are not entirely their online persona, are they? … Are they? Now I’m panicking. For me, it feels like a scratch pad for lots of different ideas, which is a little different from real life. In real life I have thousands of ironclad ideas, flex all my muscles at once, and hold it all day.
How would you describe your voice online to someone who’s never read it before?
An extremely gullible, dizzy type, with fits of urgency, tweeting whenever they see fit.
One of those classic bits wrought out of pain. I think rejection can seem this absurd and personal, especially when that’s not the case — it’s usually almost impossible for it to be as personal as it feels. So, this exchange came together in what ultimately felt like a little bit of release. And you’ve got to give it up for that — you have got to give it up for release!
What kinds of comedy do you do in addition to writing jokes online?
I do stand-up; I’m writing a lot of the time, on long-form projects, essays. I make short films. I act in other people’s projects — all the activities guaranteed to make a person relaxed and easy-breezy.
What goes on inside? This is of course a question we ask ourselves from time to time. I had been going through a period of time where I wasn’t taking great care of my body. I was working a job that was physically draining, then I’d come home and write crunched over my computer, without stretching or anything. I wondered, What do I look like in X-ray? What happens next will shock you! Doctors hate me! But not for what you think …
Do you have any favorite or least favorite topics to joke about?
My favorite topics to joke about are deranged. I like to act upset about things that make no sense: paranoias about ducks, being wary of the sun, bringing up “my detractors,” going on tangents about the benefits of an extremely high-carb diet. I follow this food account that posts nothing but pictures of the most hideous hybrid foods — burger cupcakes or candy lasagna, awful things. I have my little ideas and obsessions about why our cultural moment gets filled with these hybrid foods, and videos about how to make them, when no one will ever make them. But sometimes I share those pictures with some caption. I am 300 percent sure everyone who follows me despises it, and I apologize, but it really makes me laugh, especially when I’m in some weird little mood. Which is … often! Very “love me or leave me” situation.
My least favorite topics are probably fast jokes made around the news cycle. There are exceptions, but when things get really bad it feels bizarre for me to spout off a hot riff on the way things are. I don’t know, maybe that will change. People can be really funny doing that, rocking out and saying whatever — I absolutely believe in the right for people to rock out and do their thing. But on those very dispiriting news days, I tend to share a thought from someone who I think is saying what I feel with much more clarity and purpose than me in that moment. And I only hope they turn around and do the same for me, whenever I have a really devastating take on Alfredo sauce.
I’m in awe of people who can go in and out of social media without it touching them. There are so many critiques and jokes and essays and horrors I take in at once, and if I spend too much time on it, my brain feels caught somewhere in my leg, and I feel I can’t process the huge swaths of information I’ve taken in, let alone express how I feel about it. But this video changed all of that for me. I now say how I feel with ease, as seen here. Also, and I don’t know if this is related, but I can sprint at full speed for upwards of three hours now. I love it!
How does Twitter help inform those other kinds of writing, if at all?
My best interactions with Twitter encourage me to be as absurd as I want, and that’s great. I like the narrative writing I do to feel that way. Also, and people always say this, but the character limit does help in getting to the point. Twitter helps you to be brief — things like I have to go now. I love you. Twitter is full of stuff like that.
Karen Chee is a Brooklyn-based comedian who writes for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Shondaland, among other cool websites.