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Posts Tagged ‘@wossy’

No, Twitter, @GailPorter Isn’t Like @RealMattLucas

I used to be a big fan of Shooting Stars, the comedy panel show that starred Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Matt Lucas, who would go on to greater fame with Little Britain.

In Shooting Stars, Lucas played the surreal George Dawes, and when I checked out Lucas’ profile (@realmattlucas) on Twitter I noticed his URL linked to http://www.thankyoubakedpotato.com. Curiously, this is nothing but a holding page, but it reminded me of one of my favourite sketches from Shooting Stars - the baked potatoes song – and you can enjoy this bit of silliness here.

I watched the video on YouTube and then returned to Matt’s profile, read a few of his recent tweets, and then clicked on the follow button. Nowadays, when you follow a user on Twitter you get a prompt that suggests a couple of other people that you might like to follow. These users are meant to be similar to the person you’ve just hooked up with, with this likeness calculated by some fancy algorithm. Science, if you will.

I have to say: I was slightly taken aback when Twitter immediately suggested Gail Porter (@gailporter).

Let me explain. In the 1990s, Gail Porter was a family-friendly television presenter who went on to become a ‘lads mag’ favourite. In 1999, a picture that showed her naked from behind (NSFWish) was (somewhat notoriously) projected onto the Houses Of Parliament.

In 2005, Porter was diagnosed with alopecia, causing her to lose most of her hair. To her credit she refused to wear a wig, deciding instead to maintain her public profile and raise awareness for her condition, championing the Little Princess Trust. In 2010, most of her hair has grown back.

Matt Lucas also has alopecia, losing all of his hair when he was just six-years old. This connection between Lucas and Porter led to a series of bad-taste jokes about the pair, including one by Jonathan Ross (@wossy) at the 2005 British Comedy Awards.

I spent £20 on a Matt Lucas Little Britain doll.

Got home and found I’d bought Gail Porter instead.

Ross, of course, would go on to greater notoriety, but this remark was widely circulated on the internet and in the tabloid media. It’s a fairly well-known joke.

This leads me to believe that Twitter’s suggestion is far too abstract not to have been done intentionally. That is, somebody must have configured this by hand, because no ‘algorithm’ is programmed with a sense of humour. And, it has to be said, a bit of a mean streak.

Yes, it is true that Porter has tried her hand at stand-up comedy and there is the slightest of chances that Twitter takes a really, really basic approach to these ‘you might also like’ suggestions, but I’m not buying it. I think this was done on purpose.

And if true, it’s a bit of an eye-opener. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not it’s actually funny.

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Ricky Gervais: When Celebrities Fail At Twitter

Yesterday Ricky Gervais made the decision to quit Twitter.

Ricky Gervais: When Celebrities Fail At Twitter

He’s only been ‘active’ on the service since mid-December, but clearly felt like he’d given it a good go. On his blog, he wrote, “As you may know I’ve stopped with Twitter. I just don’t get it I’m afraid. I’m sure it’s fun as a networking device for teenagers but there’s something a bit undignified about adults using it. Particularly celebrities who seem to be showing off by talking to each other in public. If I want to tell a friend, famous or otherwise what I had to eat this morning, I’ll text them. And since I don’t need to make new virtual friends, it seemed a bit pointless to be honest.

Ricky Gervais: When Celebrities Fail At TwitterI suppose it was meant to be a bit of a marketing tool for The Globes, but they are watched by 25 million people in America alone and maybe 300 million people world wide – tweeting about it would be a drop in the ocean. Also I’ve got the website and I don’t have to restrict things to 140 characters. My tweeting was becoming like a tabloid version of this blog, and I couldn’t even put important stuff like this up.”

(The parts in bold are my own, added for emphasis.)

To be honest, I didn’t even know that Gervais was even on Twitter. And I consider myself to be a fan of the man, particularly his stand-up work. So something there is already not right.

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You’re Doing It Wrong, @FrankieBoyle

Frankie Boyle is one of the funniest stand-up comedians in the world. He’s always the highlight of Mock The Week and each and every time he’s on television I make the effort to tune in. Why? Because he’s guaranteed to say something both hilarious and outrageous.

Frankie Boyle is also on Twitter. Sort of.

  1. His Twitter account is a simple feed, and one that is clearly updated by somebody else
  2. Whoever updates the account writes in the Facebook ‘is’ style, i.e., “is in Basingstoke on Tuesday.” Great.

Yes, the account is real. Boyle has been on Twitter since November, 2008, and has a total of 18 tweets, and just seven in 2009. He hasn’t submitted anything since May, 20.

@frankieboyleEvery way you look at this, it’s a disaster.

Here’s what has happened. Frankie – or more likely his management – has decided that because Twitter is so trendy and cool and all the other celebrities are doing it, Frankie should be doing it too. Except he’s not. He’s not even making half an effort.

He’s doing it wrong.

To be fair, he may not even know he’s on Twitter. But that’s a problem too. Boyle is so funny off the cuff that a medium like Twitter would be perfect for him to try out new quips and one-liners. The interplay between himself and the audience is already there. There are many other comedians who do this fantastically well on the network – Dara O’Briain, Russell Brand, Bill Bailey and Jimmy Carr.

Actually, Carr is a great example of somebody who used to do it wrong, too. Carr’s Twitter feed was once managed by his team, and it pumped out Frankie Boyle-esque messages 24/7. Jimmy Carr is in London. Jimmy Carr is at The Apollo. Jimmy Carr is also on Facebook.

Nobody cared. Carr wisened up – likely thanks to an intervention from Jonathan Ross – and now when you subscribe to his timeline you’re getting the real deal. It’s funny. You want it to be funny. Comedians are meant to be funny. That’s the point, surely?

David Mitchell uses Twitter, too. Mitchell also uses his Twitter feed to tell us where he is and where he’s going to be. But he does himself. And he does it in a way that’s self-deprecating and humble, but it makes you laugh. He engages with his followers. He’s almost apologetic about it all, and freely admits that he doesn’t get it. The irony is: he does. Better than most.

Frankie, here’s a tip for the next time your management team decides to update, whenever that may be. Stop them. Tell them you’ll take care of it yourself. And then dip a toe into the water. It’s fine to tell us what you’re doing and where you’re going to be performing next on your tour. You’re running a business. We expect that. What doesn’t work is using Twitter in a really casual way just to give the impression that you’re in the loop. You’d be far better off not being on Twitter, and being all aloof and mysterious, even dismissive, than doing this.

Because when we subscribe to your tweets, it isn’t you we’re getting. It’s somebody else. And nobody wants that.

Celebrities Who 'Get' Twitter, Celebrities Who Don't

Earlier this week on his BBC radio show Chris Moyles (@chrisdjmoyles) waxed lyrically about Twitter, which he does fairly regularly, going on about how he totally gets it while other celebrity users of the service do not. He singled out Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) as an example. Izzard, he says, doesn’t get Twitter.

I found this interesting. Because Moyles doesn’t get Twitter, either. But Twitter gets him.

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Celebrities Who Are Failing @ Twitter

In an article in today’s Observer,  David Mitchell waxes fairly eloquently about the reasons he was drawn to Twitter in the first place (essentially, to usurp an imposter pretending to be him, which seems to have been the case for several celebrity appearances of late and, of course, as time passes, will increasingly become of import), and why, a heady 34 days later, he still isn’t really getting it.

Mitchell isn’t alone. I like the guy – at least, on his endless television appearances he comes across as being essentially okay -  but the reason he isn’t getting Twitter is the same reason numerous other Twitterslebs aren’t getting it either: they’re not making the required effort.

Wikipedia, of which Mr Mitchell is a fan, describes Twitter as “…a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.” Seems fair enough. But what Twitter really is, essentially, is a giant chat room. One that affords the user the luxury of defining both whom they wish to listen to, and whom they wish to hear them speak.

Of course, for your common or garden celebrity, the latter is all that really matters. It’s certainly true that all it takes to build an almost instant following in the tens of thousands is to be remotely famous. The more famous you are, the more you can quickly expedite that number to the glory of the top 100 most followed Twitter users. Not that you would imagine many celebrities really care about, and are even aware, of that. (Nor should anyone else, really. There’s a certain faux-credibility that comes with being in the top 100 list on Twitter – or at least there was – even if, in many instances, the actual value of following that user is of some debate.)

But, what many of them are simply not getting is this: Twitter is meant to be a two-way medium. It always was. I mentioned previously my idea that one way for the platform to move forward was to impose a ratio of followers to followed on all new accounts, so, if that ratio was imposed at 1:4, then you could only have 40,000 followers if you followed 10,000 people yourself. That might seem a little radical, but it would certainly mean that your more uneducated public figure would be somewhat forced to ‘get it’ pretty sharpish.

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The Darker Side Of Twitter

In my blurb about the purpose behind Twittercism I wrote the following:

For perhaps the first time in our history, Twitter has provided the masses with a convenient and simple way to hook up with their icons. This is good for the fan and great for the ego of the celebrity. Right now, things are mostly going okay. People are civil to each other and Twitter’s simple interface means it’s easy to block anybody who is quite blatantly a mental.

Yet: the cracks are already beginning to show. We’re already seeing cat-fights between A-listers. Public cat-fights, on Twitter, for the world to see. A few celebrities are already beginning to feel the scorn of the hyper-cynical public. Fingers are being pointed. Words are being exchanged.

It is only going to get worse.

The thing between Perez Hilton and Lily Allen got fairly ugly but was mostly amusing. The reality here is that both of them are well-known provocateurs and when you get two of these kinds of people together it always gets a bit messy when they bump virtual uglies. We’ll definitely see more celeb-on-celeb action in the future, but I don’t think that will ever get too insane. (Although it will certainly amuse.)

No. I think the biggest problem you’re going to see on Twitter over the next year or so is famous types coming under wave-after-wave of pretty vicious attacks from Joe Public. And not just your common or garden Joe Public, either.

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