Twitter: Virtual Improvisation at Its… Finest?

Twitter BirdWhen most people think of improv, they imagine Drew Carey (or his British equivalent) leading the cast of “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” through a series of spontaneous comedic challenges. In truth, improvisation exists in a variety of venues – on television, in comedy clubs, and if you enjoy Twitter or Facebook, on your smart phone.

It isn’t news to anyone that thousands of people have created anonymous Twitter accounts that exist solely for the purpose of writing and sharing jokes. These prolific slingers of (usually) sexual humor are employing improv without saying a word, merely jotting down zingers as they hit their synapses, many of them at a rate of ten to fifteen jokes per day. For example, there’s “o r a l” (@F**kTyping), delivering awkwardly hysterical one liners and photos daily and “Michael” (@Home_Halfway), who fluctuates between straightforward jokes and fictional dialogue. For countless others, check their retweets; most Twitter comedians share others jokes in between their own creative spurts, making the world that much smaller 140 ridiculous characters at a time.

One has to wonder: Are these people aspiring comedians? Do some of them think their highly followed account will actually translate into tangible success? Is it really just about imaginary FavStar trophies? Whatever the participants’ goals, busting out jokes to a random sample of people is a great way to practice pulling material out of thin air, especially if you write at least three or four jokes per session. You may never be reimbursed in cash, but you’ll receive feedback in the form of stars, a valuable asset in the beginning stages of learning any art.

Twitter isn’t the only social media platform where improv can be utilized or honed. Take Facebook memes, in which a photograph or illustration is paired with a funny caption. Their propagation may seem like a cringe-worthy diversion to some, but to the people spitting them out day after day, it’s a creative outlet and constant challenge. Not every meme is destined to be funny, but that’s the nature of practice. Thankfully, their audience is their friends, and only the finest pairings of Willy Wonka commenting wryly on Black Friday make it to the timelines of the masses.

Unfortunately, neither of these outlets simulate the quick-thinking cultivated when forced to bounce jokes off another comedian. Twitter jokes and memes often get replies or comments, but these quickly devolve into conversation, not improv. If you’re a dedicated digital comedian itching to tackle another aspect of improv – human interaction – check out The Voodoo’s Drop-In Improv class any Tuesday night, 6:00-7:30pm. If passive entertainment is more your speed, take a look at our calendar for a full list of events, including stand-up, karaoke, and burlesque. Questions or comments? Contact us.