Here’s a story that purports to be about comedian Steve Martin, but it’s really about you and me … and social media.
Steve Martin is a hilarious man. So hilarious, we had to get a Thesaurus to try to sum him up: jocular, rollicking, thigh-slapping, rib tickling, jovial. Maybe you’ve seen his movies (“The Jerk,” “Father of the Bride,” “Parenthood,” “Pink Panther Strikes Again”). Maybe you’ve listened to his Grammy-winning comedy albums (“Let’s Get Small,” ”A Wild and Crazy Guy”). Ever on the cutting edge, now Steve Martin's gone out and gotten all social media on us.
(If, like us, you've heard enough about how social media has taken over and changed our lives, skip the next six paragraphs to get to the funny part.)
In his, just-released book, “The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten. The Tweets of Steve Martin,” Mr. Martin has collected the tweets he started as a promotional tool and then got hooked on for their comedy potential.
“I found the limits exciting, and liked that these thoughts popped up randomly on someone else’s device, perhaps catching them at an odd moment,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “I also liked that these thoughts popped up randomly in me, and kept me on my comedy toes.”
He said he started tweeting around Labor Day of 2010, and “didn’t really understand the ins and outs of Twitter, and it wasn’t until about four months later that I noticed that people were tweeting me back. Then, I started noticing how tuned in and funny the responses were, and then a few months later I started saving the best of them (cut and pasted, by hand, by me) in a file. This was real enjoyment: I would run to my wife quoting someone's latest clever response, laughing hard.”
OK, we’re almost to the funny part (just three more paragraphs). But for those who need an excuse to let go and be funny and still feel like you are participating in the social gestalt of our age, here is a quote from a man who has written a book about the topic.
"Shakespeare's observation that 'brevity is the soul of wit' has never been more true than on Twitter, and, in the case of Steve Martin, that wit is his patented cracked, brilliant sense of humor," says Paul Levinson, author of "New New Media," in an e-mail. "The one-liner has always been the comedian's punchline, but it has found its ideal form in Twitter's 140-character missive."
"And, as is the case with all new new media, in which consumers become producers, the funny lines on Twitter come not only from pros like Martin, but anyone with a slightly deranged funny thought in their head,” he says.
So here we go: The top tweets in this book that are not written by Steve Martin.
1. Martin tweeted about his newly released album: “Rare Bird Alert #3 on Amazon. I’m as happy as a clam. Wait. Are clams really happy?” The response from @gropious3: “The chilling sound of clam-laughter has caused many fishermen to quit the sea.”
2. Martin’s tweeted: “Finally thinking about getting a computer." The response from @timdyson: “Make sure it has an ‘ANY’ key for all those sites that say, ‘hit any key to continue.’ Mine doesn’t and it’s so annoying.”
3. Martin tweeted: “Trusting wife angry at me for violating sacred pact of marriage. A married man, she claims, does not wear a bustle.” The response from @sarabuchan: “well, not in the FRONT. That’s probably what has made her angry.”
4. Martin tweeted: “Found some great new twitter pants. Tight red spandex with calf protectors. I’m sure the quality of tweets will improve now." The response from @BuddyGott: “I have the exact same twitter outfit. Let’s not wear them at the same place at the same time, ok?”
5. Martin tweeted: “Thinking of moving to Alabama because of ease of spelling the state. Only four letters to remember.” The response from @akmoss: “it’s why I moved to Oslo." And from @dandelions8910: “Also it’s always first on those pick your state drop down menus.”
6. Martin tweeted: “Trying to get my new nickname to catch on: “The Elegant Argentinean.” The response from@thevastydeep: “Assume Corky the Goat Herd was taken?"
7. Martin tweeted: “I have decided not to run for president. Have skeleton in closet, which is actual skeleton in actual closet.” The response from @12SecondHorror: “This is really a lot tamer than most politician’s skeletons. You’d have a real shot on the ‘I only killed a guy’ platform."
8. Martin tweeted: “Took Tylenol PM in the morning, and was arrested.” The response from@JoeNewberry: “I suppose it is only a matter of time before you are listening to AM radio at night.”
9. Martin tweeted: “Just bought sexy new body stocking. In beige. With eyeholes. Currently walking dog in neighborhood. Tinfoil hat looks good, too.” The response from @Italia_Federich: “Copy cat.”
10. Martin tweeted: “Illegal online tweet Poker: I have a King, a Six, an Ace, a Club and a Jack of deuces. I bet a dollar.” The response from@JoshJack: “I have a 4,5,7, jack and a skip card from UNO. I raise you a monopoly $20!
Now when you’re done laughing, try to remember this is a serious piece. Martin is impressed with how funny you might be and probably don’t even know it. Here is what he told an NPR interviewer.
"I've always believed that there are funny people everywhere, but they're just not comedians. In fact, some of my best comedic inspirations were not professional entertainers. I had a friend in Texas, and his wife told me they were at an amusement park, and they came up to one of those maps [of] the amusement park and it said, YOU ARE HERE. And he looked at it and he said to her, 'How does it know?' These things appear on people's phones in the middle of the day. It's not like people are gathered in a hall and they're expecting something funny. You know, talk about the unexpected."
Got it? Now get out there and tweet.