Megan Amram has mastered the art of comedy on Twitter. Her tweets are perfectly conceptualized jokes that benefit from Twitter’s 140-character delivery and don’t focus on current events or reference celebrities. Rather, they subtly convey observations that would make Steven Wright smirk.
$5 says I'm the most addicted person at this Gamblers Anonymous— Megan Amram (@meganamram) February 10, 2014
Before 2010, the 26-year-old was relatively unknown in the comedy world, but her talent on Twitter landed her more than 400,000 followers and a writing job on NBC’s Parks and Recreation two years ago. The show’s creator, Michael Schur, is quite active on Twitter and plucked her out of the noise for a full-time writing gig.
Her career arc is proof that Twitter’s become a professional launching pad for funny people who aren’t necessarily working the standup circuit or trying to be famous. They just need to be consistently clever. Amram’s responsible for one of the best Parks and Rec episodes ever; snagged jobs writing for the Academy Awards in 2011 and Comedy Central’s hit series Kroll Show; and she wrote this amazing sketch for Dannon birth control yogurt.
Amram will be talking about this transition from Twitter to “real-life” gig at SXSW on March 7, along with fellow tweeter/writer Jenny Johnson, Resource’s Josh Hara, and Mashable’s Matt Silverman. We asked her a bit more about her Twitter discipline—and having to tell her mother what a “blumpkin” is.
I know when a lot of people tweet; it’s kind of like a brain fart they want to share with everyone, but it seems like you have a bit of discipline. Is there a flow or timing to it?
I used to be so obsessed with that kind of thing. I try to tweet at least one joke that I like a day. I never have been a super-heavy tweeter, which I think kind of works to my advantage, and people don’t get sick of me. I used to be really obsessed with the timing of it, but then I realized it doesn't matter at all. I like tweeting at like three in the morning, just seeing who wants to talk. That sounds like a depressed person, but I’m very happy!
What about the wordplay?
I have a love-hate relationship with puns. My entire family is good at puns—and I’m saying good with air quotes, because nobody can really be good at puns—and we make a ton of puns, and I think in puns all the time, and therefore never want to tweet them, but people seem to love them. My most popular tweets have been puns or wordplay. So I shouldn't be knocking it. Give the people what they want.
Puns come off better on Twitter than in a standup set.
It’s so much better to read a pun than to hear it. Twitter is the absolute right place for a pun, which has no lasting power in the world of comedy.
Do you discard a lot of tweets, or edit yourself?
I’m a big tweet deleter if I think it’s a bad joke, which is partially why I haven’t tweeted a ton. I have a twin brother, and I test every tweet on him.
I read your mom also comments on your tweets?
My mom, like all good Jewish moms, is very honest when she likes or dislikes tweets. There are a few times when she just doesn’t understand a pop culture reference, and then I have to explain to her like I’m a teenager.
Can you remember one of those times?
Oh, I once tweeted about a blumpkin. I was a good daughter and explained it to her without making her look it up, then she thought it was a funny joke.
What does it take to cut through the noise and stand out, when there are so many people on Twitter trying to be funny?
The thing about Twitter is it’s so overwhelming, and it makes me feel very grateful because I was very lucky to cut through the noise, and I think there are a lot of people with not very many followers who totally could have done the same thing. I think trying to say things that haven’t been said before is really exciting, and I like following people who are truly talking about their lives.
Do you stay away of talking about trending or topical events?
I never tweet about celebrity deaths, and I didn’t tweet anything about the Oscars. I think some people are great at it, but that’s why I don’t. Everyone is saying everything that could be said about this event.
I’ve read some of your poetry, and I’m wondering if there’s some connection between the poetic verse and the verse of Twitter.
There’s a certain playfulness between language and space. I think the same part of me likes doing both things, but when I’m feeling more contemplative, I’ll write a poem rather than a tweet. Both of them are a game to see if you can either make a joke in a short amount of space, or if you can capture an experience in a short amount of space as well.
You have a book coming out, right?
It’s coming of this fall. It’s called Science For Her, and it’s a female science textbook, because science is very hard for our brains, so I wrote one that’s very easy for ladies to digest.
Right. So is it just a lot of pictures?
Oh, there are so many pictures. You can probably just skip the words. It’s laid out like a Cosmopolitan magazine, so that it’s a comfort zone for all women everywhere. Lots of quizzes and diagrams.
We love quizzes is what I’ve been told. I wouldn’t know who I was if not for quizzes.
Well, you still won’t after reading my book, but it will be funny.
- How Twitter Humorists Landed Sweet Real-Life Gigs
- Friday, March 7, 5pm
- Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
Photo by Megan Amram/Twitter remix by Jason Reed