Monday, August 3, 2009

Failed Trending Topics or My Futile Attempts to Start a Movement...

It took me a while to get into it, but I'm officially hooked on Twitter. (THANK GOD Maggie has landed in LA!) At first I thought it was just the status part of Facebook--but for writers/comics like me, it's a great place to work on joke writing. The best way is through trending topics--a public forum for your best sound bites and worst puns. I've weighed in on #failedwesterns ("How The West Was Wonderful With Those Nephews of Yours Last Night," "A Fistful of State Quarters"), #fakekanyesightings ("Saw Kanye in the studio with Enya, where they are recording as new super group Kenya"), #failedchildrensbooktitles ("The Mouse and The Motorcycle Diaries," "Garfield F****s 'Em All") and #rejectedweirdalsongparodytitles ("Bananarama's Gruel Summer," "The Rolling Stones' Shrimp Scampi For The Devil"). I've had a great time doing them, and have tried to start some of my middling results.

I suppose it's because I'm not terribly famous (a handful of followers from RiffTrax, my comedy festival SF Sketchfest, and LA/SF friends in general) that they don't really catch on. A few scattered people will pick up on them and play along, and then the trending flame burns out as quickly as it comes.

My first real attempting at creating a trending topic was #justmanny. Basically, it plays off of the saying that goes with Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez: "That's just Manny being Manny." He's had unusual behavior on and off the diamond (including disappearing from the outfield during a game to take a leak), and that phrase has followed him around. The topic was designed to encourage people to bring out their best puns--here are some of the examples I wrote:

"Manny Ramirez to join Professor Xavier's school for gifted mutants. That's just Manny being Uncanny."
"Manny Ramirez to star in remake of "Timecop." That's just Manny being Van Dammey"
"Manny Ramirez was awarded to Jethro Tull for Best Metal Album. That's just Manny being Grammy."
"Manny Ramirez is writing his own version of "Dracula." That's just Manny being Brammy."

My friend Matt Belknap (@mattbelknap) (of the excellent podcast Never Not Funny) jumped on board and did a few of his own, as did my friends Emily (@emilyslamduncan) and Jennifer (@jennifer1jones) and fellow improviser Vanessa Ragland (@alwaysvanessa). But as quickly as it came, it was....gone.

Second attempt: #failedwiigames. Again, a chance to play around with the idea of terrible video games. My examples:

"Super Mario Batali: Mozzarella di Bufaland"
"Wii The People: Sim-Constitution"
"Sonic the Hedgefund"
"Sophie's Choice"

This one caught on a bit better, but was still short lived. Friends/fans from the universe of RiffTrax ran with this one, such at Kate (@katerz1), who had one of my favorites: "Michael Vick's Nintendogs." But still, no love in trending land.

My latest launched today, and seems promising, as lots of people are taking their shot at it: #failedmusicals. Simple concept, easy to execute. Some of my contributions:

"Nothing of Note Happened on the Way to The Forum"
"Les Mizrahi"
"VJ! The Jesse Camp Stage Extravaganza"
"The Unsinkable Molly Ringwald"
"Riddler on the Roof"
"Dawson's Pal Joey"
"Damn Orioles"
"The Associate Producers"
"Hello Kitty Gang Bang"
"A Little M. Night Shyamalan Music"
"My County Fair Lady"
"On A Clear Day You Can See Batman Forever"

Some of my favorites of others:
"Into The 'Wood #failedmusicals #inglewoodcommunitytheater" (@mattbelknap)
"Larry King and I" (@mattbelknap)
"The Who's Tommy John Surgery" (@mattbelknap)
"Seven Mail-Order Brides For Seven Really Creepy Brothers" (@genegeorge)
"You're a Good Man Karl Rove" (@jennybstratton) (MY WIFE!)
"Thoroughly Modern Milli Vanilli" (@dougpiranha)
"Fiddler on Some Roofies" (@AlexMacintyre)
"Mary's Poppin" (@joshsneed)
"Joseph Is An Amazing Techno-Dancing Dream Boat" (@joshsneed)
"Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Smooth Jazz" (@recreant)
"Gladys Knight and the Pippin" (@courtenlow)
"Merrily We Roll a Drunk" (@susskins)
"Pretty Shitty Gang Bang" (@jennifer1jones)
"Jersey Shore Boys" (@emilyslamduncan)
...and countless others. Will it gather enough steam to become an actual trending topic? We need your help! Log on to twitter and play along! Oh, and follow me: @colestratton

And start your own trending topics! I promise to play along!


  1. Ohhh, Lordy. I stay off Twitter for ONE day, and I miss the #failedmusicals fun?! I gotsta get me over there, STAT.

    I hafta say, these little "games" are one of the most entertaining things about Twitter. Like you, it took me awhile to get round twit, but I now LOVE Twitter. Those Rifftrax guys help. As do you. And Weird Al.

  2. I love your trending topics! I rarely ever join in, though, as I am not nearly clever enough to, LOL. Please keep them coming, don't get discouraged!!! :-D

  3. It's funny. I use twitter in a completely different manner. I think you and Jenny are the only friends I have that actually use trending topics. I love people you use it for material (songs or jokes)... like Steve Poltz or Arj Barker. I also use it to find out about concerts and events that I can't be at.

    TweetUps are a big thing in San Diego. Were you actually invite people to meet up using twitter. Amanda Palmer does this quite often for her music.

    I love twitter... but still not sold on treading topics. But keep at it. One day I hope one of yours is listed as a top trending topic. :)