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Shit His Dad Says

November 12, 2009

Admittedly, Twitter is like that over-hyped major network television show that gets canceled midway through its first season. Except that Twitter is a website.  And it never got canceled.  Well, at least it’s over-hyped.  The point is, despite Twitter’s relatively long life as a popular technology, the service has failed to produce anything cool enough to justify all the chatter.  Sure, reading random tweets from crazy celebrities is fun but those gems are few and far between – there’s too much noise to filter before getting to the good stuff (that is, of course, with the exception of the TBTS feed, which is always bootylicious).

Well, folks, set your tweet goggles on this feed o’ funny: “Shit My Dad Says.”  (“Didn’t Tomlin tell us to check that out in yesterday’s Entertation Index?”  Yeah, but this is the elaboration.  It was all a part of the plan – yeah, the plan.)  So Twitter finally gets its Susan Boyle/piano-playing cat/Chocolate Rain.  Something like SMDS could not exist without Twitter and Twitter’s otherwise incomprehensible format has finally been put to a buzz-worthy good use – providing witty and drily hilarious snapshot quotes of a “don’t give a damn” old man.

For instance, in what other forum could you get daily doses of goodness like, “Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it.  Anybody can do that.”  Or if that’s too crotchety to tickle you then consider some fatherly comfort: “You worry too much. Eat some bacon . . . What?  No, I got no idea if it’ll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon.”  But crotchety and comforting isn’t all that SMDS has to offer, as there’s marital advice, too: “If mom calls, tell her I’m shitting . . . Son, marriage is about not having to lie about taking a shit.”

SMDS was started by Justin Halpren, a 29 year-old who recently moved home to live with his parents.  It just so happens that his father Sam, age 73 (do the math on that frisky mid-lifer), is quite the quipper, so Justin turned a humbling experience into an opportunity.  He started tweeting all of the life lessons flowing from his father’s tongue and, barely three months later, Justin has over three-quarters of a million followers.

While being an Internet darling is always cool (TBTS writers certainly enjoy basking in the LCD-screen glow of its millions of readers), relying on a third-party service to generate celebrity can deliver bitter-sweet results.  Consider the case of Susan Boyle, whose YouTube stardom brought her all of the 15-minutes-of-fame attention without any of the real benefits of celebrity.  No money.  No boy toys.  No Grammy gift bags.  Justin, however, is apparently too savvy to let this opportunity slip away.  Or perhaps more appropriately, “big media” is still savvy enough to pounce on an occasional hot trend.

Justin recently signed a book deal with Harper Collins and has now agreed to do a deal with Will & Grace producers David Kohan and Max Mtchnick who, according to Paste, will “produce and supervise the adaptation of his Twitter success story into a narrative – a multicamera family comedy on CBS.”  It should be interesting to see how CBS is able to create a “family comedy” from a colorfully-worded Twitter feed.  Once all of the barnacles are scrubbed off of it, the script is likely to look a lot like Everybody Loves Raymond.

Nevertheless, whenever a talented but otherwise ordinary person is plucked from obscurity, there is a justified concern that the person’s talent will be cannibalized by its resulting success.  You know, kind of like all those reality shows that start out about a real topic (parents raising sextuplets, guys running a humble motorcycle shop) and turn into shows about once-normal people enjoying the luxuries afforded to them merely as a result of having a show.  Fortunately, it does not appear that the source of Justin’s humor will suffer a similar fate.

While Justin may soon feel the pull to live large with his newfound fame, it is likely that his dad will remain unaffected and will continue to keep his son grounded by dishing out great one liners.  One reason is that Sam does not even use the Internet, which is why he was oblivious to his son’s postings until the book deal was already in the works.  It is possible that a portrayal of himself on TV might influence Sam’s zingers but, if his reactions to his present circumstances are any indication, it is unlikely.  The L.A. Times reports that when Justin finally told his father what he had been doing, Sam responded, “Keep the money from whatever you get.  I have my own money.  I just don’t want to do any interviews.”  And the first tweet after the TV deal was announced?  “Remember this: you’re just a lucky fucking guy.  If people start telling you your dick looks bigger, remember that it’s not.”

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