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John Mayer or Patton Oswalt, et al: Who’s Right about Twitter?

April 29, 2010

Patton's karaoke version of "911 Is A Joke" always brings the house down.

Two bits of information about Twitter have caught my eye in the last day or two, and together they’ve led me to think about questions of cultural and technological relevance.

1. John Mayer recently said that Twitter is “pretty much done” as a “form of communication.”

2. On his Facebook page, Patton Oswalt announced this week, “I’m joining Twitter this Saturday [May 1]. Use this information wisely.”

So Mayer says, “Ding dong, the Tweet is dead,” while Patton says, “I have not yet begun to Tweet, but I will on Derby Day.”

To answer the question posed in my title, I’m betting on the funny guy. And his whole gaggle of funny friends. Who are all still using Twitter to…be funny. And…gasp…say things that their fans find worthwhile, entertaining, or both. Them, I trust. Mayer, who’s never said anything worth a damn on Twitter, preferring to use it as a virtual podium for endless masturbatory, solipsistic, pseudo-introspective verbal canoodling, I don’t trust so much. At least not when it comes to serving as a barometer of Twitter’s relevance as a medium.

The word “medium” leads me to another reason why I’m inclined to listen to the Patton Oswalts of the world (and Doug Benson and Aziz Ansari and Eugene Mirman and Brian Posehn and Paul F. Tompkins and so on), who seem to think that Twitter can still serve as an effective medium for communicating with friends, fans, and followers. John Mayer’s wrong in saying that Twitter is a form rather than a medium of communication, or perhaps he’s just not smart enough to understand the difference.

Mayer’s statement is quite revealing, actually, in that it shows that he just doesn’t get that what you have to say is what’s important, not where or how you say it. People who say funny, interesting things can do so on Twitter in 140 characters or on stage in a two-hour performance. As long as people like that continue to use Twitter as a place to display their talent for making people laugh, then Twitter will remain relevant.

So I say Tweet on, Mr. Oswalt. I, for one, trust you to use Twitter to make your fans laugh so hard we’ll feel like Robert Evans after a heroin-crazed Brian Dennehy punched him right in the solar plexus. Jeez, even if you use Twitter to talk about your racist penis, I’ll still be following. It’s funny when YOU say it.

Postscript: You know John Mayer’s headed for utter irrelevance when not even E! Online will take him seriously.

  1. T. D. permalink
    April 29, 2010 9:53 pm

    You know a comic who would’ve killed on Twitter? Mitch Hedberg. I would’ve paid big bucks just to get a stream of his brilliance.

  2. T. Stump permalink
    April 30, 2010 7:52 pm

    I salute Mayer’s declaration, and hope it becomes a massive meme. This is a great parallel to Oswalt’s bit about the early-’90s death of stand-up comedy – while I think Mayer is far more savvy then he lets on, he might inspire millions with no intellectual curiosity to abandon Twitter. Hopefully, the only people remaining would be those of us who actually admire someone with a brain, rather than the simpletons that slag ’em off.

    Imagine a Twitter where the Trending Topics are UrbanLivability, TEDTalks, TomCarvelCake, StatsGeek, Dogme95, LebowskiFest, etc…

    And that Benson-UCB axis of LA comedy is insane, like the 1927 Yankees mixed with the 1984 Lakers.

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