“It’s The Nature of the Experiment” or “Comedy in 30 Tweets”

“It’s The Nature of the Experiment” or “Comedy in 30 Tweets”

I’ve seen some really good comedy, and some really crap comedy at the AltDot. I’ve also performed really good comedy and really crap comedy at the Riv. Of the stuff I’ve seen meeting either criterion, I will hazard a guess that the spark that ignited the success/failure was an idea that started with this sentence: “Hey, the AltDot is supposed to be an ‘alternative’ room, right?” Last night’s AltDot show at the Rivoli saw me put on the fruit of my labours anchored in an at-the-same-time cool-yet-stupid ideer. Why not do a show and not be on stage in the process?

Got the idea whilst tweeting on Twitter one day (for the uninitiated, start reading about Twitter HERE. Note also, that the text below my headshot on my website is directly posted from my tweets on Twitter.) when one of the folks I follow and who follows me stated he was going to show up to the New Material night at the Riv. I’d never met this man in the flesh. I didn’t know his name. He just read the stuff I was posting, found me slightly funnier than running your toe into furniture, and decided to come out. Social networking at its best. But then I got thinking, which is usually bad, who are we kidding? Since I met him through Twitter, and I knew that there was a good chance the Rivoli was wired for it, what if I did the entire set through Twitter?

This is what I pictured. The projection screen would be pulled down on the stage. The projector would be hooked up to my laptop and I to the internet to get Twitter up and running. I would then write all of my new jokes (it was New Material Night, after all) into the Twitter page and post not only to the room but the world at large. I’d do my 7 mins, and that’d be it. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, lots of things. What if they didn’t have cables or outlets to hook me up to the video camera? What if there were issues with WiFi? Battery dies? Laptop crash? “Fail Whale” messages from Twitter? Not least of which, what if my jokes were as funny as a turd-on-light-rye sandwich fresh out of a Panini grill? I got all my jokes together, grabbed my laptop and headed to the Riv. Marlin, the tech for the night rummaged for what seemed ages and found a cable that got me to the projector. I found an open port in the router and an open space in the power bar for my adapter. Quick test of the first projection ever out of my laptop proved to be a success once I dropped the screen resolution into the neighbourhood of 8 x 12. So from all technical standpoints, we were good to do. I still had poo sandwich worries.

Jo-Anna Downey, host of the night, initially didn’t know what to make of it. She just introduced me, stepped away from the screen, and Marlin fired up the projector displaying only my Twitter page, and for the first time in a long while, I shook while on stage but not on stage. So, I began typing and posting my jokes one by one onto the screen and into TwitterSpace. I had no idea if the crowd would buy into reading jokes, care, or even find anything funny. Didn’t matter at this point, just start pouring the jokes into the laptop, get the fingers flying and, as we say in Gan before the Blue-Collar crew got hold of it…give’r.

The crowd was dead silent as I typed and once the punchlines got posted; there were laughs as big as I’ve received standing on a stage. All that could be heard was laughter, silent pauses punctuated with the sound of frantic typing at the back of the room. 7 minutes and I was done, having typed in most of the jokes I’d prepared on ‘change’, and signed off. It was the weirdest thing I’d ever heard in my life. Dead silence of people reading and paying attention in anticipation, and then huge laughs. Having an entire crowd hanging on every spoken word was pretty swell. Would do it again. Maybe next time, just on Twitter.

Jo-Anna met me backstage where I got ready to host the second show. “You know, Van Allen, it ain’t easy following a computer.” Glad I could make her stretch. She did fine anyway.

Here follows is a transcript of the night:

Hello, everyone. This will either be great or hot death.

Hey, there. How is everyone?

Everyone, this is Twitter. Twitter, everyone. I’ll be writing this and it pops up on the internet.

You’re witnessing the biggest waste of the internet since CTV’s election coverage

This makes spritzing suck

“anyone from out of town?” Send heckles to @heyitstva. The rest of you, shout at the fucking screen.

So, change. This is kinda new, eh? Normally I’m not typing and bombing.

In the future all comedy will be this way. However Dane Cook will still be popular. You have yourselves to blame.

Obviously one of the motivations for the theme of “change” was the US election who are screaming for change.

Given their voting history, I welcome the change of a different old rich white guy screwing everyone

Difference between the 2 candidates. Obama used Twitter in his campaign.

McCain scrawled his messages on Palin’s ass and posted pics on VPILF.com

The US election is kind of like old Easter chocolate you find in November.

Should be brown, but is in fact white, old, and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Analysts wonder if racism will affect the voting results. I would hope that in the 21st century, this isn’t the case.

Racism affecting the vote. What a Jew thing to say.

It’s called the White House for a reason, folks. The last black man that was in the Oval Office was part of a tour group.

US wants change and we stayed with Harper. Apparently Canada avoids change like Conrad Black reading the Kama Sutra.

The US will probably end up with some change. Sad part is that they’ll most likely lose it in the couch cushions.

I feel like Stephen Hawking back here.

“What’s the deal with black holes?”

Saw a guy looking for change in a coin return slot of a payphone. When was the last time anyone used a payphone who wasn’t a felon?

I held up my cellphone and said, “See this? This is why you’re hungry.”

“Change is as good as a vacation” That’w why slaves would get punched in the face instead of whipped and feel like a million bucks.

What…too soon?

The internet has changed. Social networking sites ousted porn sites as the #1 web usage.

That said, how many people are using those sites to find a new fuck buddy?




  • This is a great idea. I would love to see it in action at some point.

    November 5, 2008 at 1:49 am
  • Shell

    I was sitting and giggling while frantically refreshing the page in hopes of catching the next tweet as it hit. My significant other even laughed – trust me, that ain’t easy to do. I almost felt like I was there.

    November 6, 2008 at 7:52 am
  • I think you might be the first comedian to perform via Twitter in history – congratulations.

    November 9, 2008 at 2:51 am