When Tweets Go Wrong

Twitter Fail: Austin comedians confess to some not-so-popular tweets

What does it take to fail at Twitter? Austin comics tell all

Kath Barbador Ralph Hardesty comics
Kath Barbadoro, Ralph Hardesty Photo courtey of Ralph Hardesty
Ralph Hardesty comedy
Ralph Hardesty Photo courtesy of Ralph Hardesty
Kath Barbadoro
Kath Barbadoro Photo courtesy of Kath Barbadoro
Derek Phelps comedian
Derek Phelps Photo courtesy of Derek Phelps
Kath Barbador Ralph Hardesty comics
Ralph Hardesty comedy
Kath Barbadoro
Derek Phelps comedian

As a comic, I never know how funny a joke is until I try it out in front of a crowd. Twitter can be a quick way to get feedback on an idea. Did it get retweets and favorites, or was it just met with silence?

If something takes off on Twitter, I might even upgrade it to an open mic joke.

Austin comics search through their favorite failed tweets to analyze why they just didn't work. 

The problem is, I find Twitter to be absolutely baffling. These Homeland tweets are golden, people. No one even mustered a measly favorite.

When you couple the real-time interaction data with current followers stats, you set up the perfect afternoon for any neurotic, needy comedian to get nothing meaningful done.

I was sure other comedians must have the same mystifying struggle with Twitter — the glee of hitting "enter" after a joke you believe will lift you to Internet comedy glory, only to be followed by the disappointment of cybercrickets. So, I asked some successful Austin comics to search through their Twitter feeds for their favorite failed tweets and to analyze why it just didn't work.

Curtis Luciani @sinister ball (Your Terrific Neighbors)

This is simply a case of making too many moves and foolishly expecting people to be on the same page with me. To find this tweet funny, you need to 1) Have given a second's thought to the existence of Machete Kills, 2) Think that the stunt casting in Machete Kills (Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson) is stupid and kind of gross, 3) Remember who Sanjaya is, 4) Know who Fred Phelps is and 5) Put all the preceding pieces together. I'm also not sure why I jumped to "fourth Machete film" instead of just saying "third." I think I obscured the issue in doing so.

I have seen neither Machete film.

Mac Blake @macbdazzler (Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013)

A joke about House! What's not to love? I've actually done this joke on stage before and it got about the same reaction as this tweet — nothing. I think House is such a weird thing to reference, that's probably why I liked this joke so much. That and the idea of kids portraying characters from a dumb show. But yeah, died as a joke, died as a tweet. Checkmate, Hugh Laurie.

Kath Barbadoro @kathbarbadoro (Moontower Comedy Festival)

I think Bon Iver sounds like an indie-fied John Mayer. I realized I could express this opinion in the form of dumb Twitter wordplay, which is the best forum for opinions because it's the closest thing you can get to shouting them into a void. I think it didn’t work partly because people don't know how to pronounce Bon Iver so you don't get that they sound alike (Bon-ee-VARE, John ee-MARE). But it's also basically just a snarky opinion of a popular thing that a lot of people enjoy, couched in a tired joke format. It's pretty stupid, but I still think it's funny.

Ralph Hardesty @ralphiehardesty (The Encyclopedia Show)

I wrote this beauty during my hedonistic summer of sitting in kiddie pools, eating ham, drinking beer and reading Game of Thrones. I thought saying “ham” a million times would be funny, but I was wrong. I also was rapidly tweeting that day, so I think it got lost in a cloud of ham-related tweets (“ham o’clock” got a few more favorites).

Mike MacRae @MikeMacraeMike (Letterman)

In the aftermath of the Naval Yard shooting (comedy gold, I know!), I was struck by the fact that we readily acknowledge the danger of men like Mr. Alexis, who hear voices that aren't there, yet we largely accept the religiosity that drives much of our foreign policy — and subsequently our military might. Although auditory hallucinations might not be the same as prayers for guidance (George W. Bush) or even claims of talking directly to God (Michele Bachmann), the end result is still violence. However, instead of being embraced by Twitter as a priceless bon mot, it was discarded as yet another tiresomely predictable anti-theist mini-screed. It bombed. Oh, well. Bombs away!

Derek Phelps @thederekphelps (Laugh, Dammit!)

Anyone who's ever been to a Cracker Barrel knows the music (and everything else) thinks it's in a truck commercial. They should sell trucks at Cracker Barrel.

As you can see, no favorites, no retweets. Maybe I should've tagged Cracker Barrel, or Ford, or Chevy. Has no one been to Cracker Barrel and also seen a truck commercial? I suppose that's a possibility. 

Martha Kelly @MarthaKelly3 (Conan, The Late Late Show)

I totally thought that naming my roommates' disgusting, bacteria-laden sponges "the Salmonella Sisters," as if they were a musical act like the Andrews Sisters, would take America by storm. I guess people are too small-minded to imagine diarrhea-inspired Top 40 hits.

Kerri Lendo is an Austin standup comedian and filmmaker. You can find her failing on Twitter at @KerriLendo