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I am so sick and tired of hearing about Twitter on the news, or having to explain it to my family, or having to think about it in any capacity other than its use at all, really. Twitter has become MySpace’s younger, genius cousin: bratty, loud, unstoppable, and often immensely gifted. The gift may or may not be at playing the piano while making a fart joke.

best sex pistols photo ever

Twitter is a godsend to writers, especially writers of comedy. It forces us to work within constraints, and with “ranking” tools like the gold star and Favrd, we’re able to test our material on a pretty forgiving audience. It garners attention, mainlines approval, and has helped to develop friendships. There are text alert options, so you can basically have a nonstop comedy hour in your pants. Not only have Simon and I been fortunate enough to meet some pretty awesome and attractive individuals in real life thanks to this social network, we’ve also gotten jobs out of it. When we were stranded for fifteen hours in a U-Haul, we were able to ask our friends on Twitter what the hell was going on up ahead on the road…and we got a nearly immediate response. (The answer: a massive snowstorm.)

It may seem a little foolish or forced to say that one can be impressed by something as minute as a 140 character microblog post, but I’m easy to bowl over, I guess. Among some of the individuals who have made my cyber-jaw drop atop my QWERTY keys is Avery Edison, a 20 year old college student from Southampton, UK. Perhaps dedicating a post to another blogger, and microblogger, seems redundant, silly, or meta. Sue me. The woman is hilarious, and as a student of comedy writing — much as I was back in the late ’90s in New York — I feel that she deserves a spotlight all her own, namely because she can make you laugh harder than I can. I’m glad Twitter introduced me to her.

That said, fuck Rick Sanchez.

drink up

Jerk Ethic: Tell me a little about yourself. I only know you from the Internet.

Avery Edison: There’s not much more to me than what people know from the Internet. I spend most of my time in front of my laptop, either reading things or making things. Sometimes I visit the world outside my dorm room to take a unicycle ride or go to class. I really like comic books, but whilst I know more than your average person, I can’t really go toe-to-toe with any trivia buffs. I’m the same with music, really. I like it in the background whilst I do work, but although my favorite band right now is Metric, I can’t tell you who’s in it or the names of most of the tracks. Sorry.

Jerk Ethic: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Avery Edison: For a long time I wanted to be a doctor. I think maybe because I associated it — and rightly so — with intelligence and hard work. Unfortunately, I found out just how much training and studying it took to become one, and the “hard work” aspect became off-putting, rather than inspirational.

Then I wanted to be a director. I made a few shorts, and went to college to study film. It turned out that the course wasn’t a fit for me (in England you pick a course of study and follow the same curriculum as everyone else, there’s no minors, no electives, no choice in which classes you take) and I dropped out after a few of weeks and spent the rest of the year figuring out what I actually wanted to do with my life.Then came the three-month-long soul-searching stay with a bunch of hippies in New Mexico, followed by signing up to the only comedy course in the UK.

Jerk Ethic: Has the economic crisis hit where you are?

Avery Edison: Abby(@clapifyoulikeme on the Twitter) and I were in London recently and heard a woman in the same train carriage as us talking on her cell phone. She was moaning about buying a cardigan, and remarked that she’d have been better off buying it at home because “the recession just hasn’t hit London yet”. This was mid-January; banks were closing, Iceland was collapsing, and retailers had taken a beating in the Christmas market. We had to try very hard not to laugh at this woman’s woolen-clothing-centred measurement of economic conditions.

As a student, I’m somewhat insulated from the economy; my government sponsored loan/grant money was decided in September, and costs like food and rent have barely shifted. In some cases, they’ve gone down, which has been pretty helpful.

Of course, it’s next to impossible to get a job. I’m constantly worrying about what funds I’ll get allocated for my next year of study. I have a significant other who’s in a significantly other country, a very expensive plane ride across the ocean. And, if it’s possible, the faces of all the middle-class people I see have gotten even more sour.

union jack

Jerk Ethic: What has been the biggest influence on what you want to do professionally?

Avery Edison: I don’t actually have a profession, per se, so we’re gonna assume that the stuff I do on Internet counts as credit towards the title “Comedy Writer”, and work from there.

In terms of influence-the-way-Pearl-Jam-influenced-Nirvana-influence, I’d have to say The Show with Ze Frank. Which is a boring answer, because everyone already knows about it. I didn’t discover “The Show” until after it’s year-long run, and spent a day or two watching every episode, stopping every now and then for a Subway sandwich. I love it for two reasons: the humor-a perfect mix of smart and silly, with more than a dash of sarcasm…and the episodes that focus on how creativity works. The “brain crack” episode inspires me every time I watch it, and I use it as a reference every time that I’m afraid to make something because I  might fail.

On a real-world level, Favrd is probably the biggest driving force for change in my actual work. I came to it in July 2008, after a year on my comedy course. In theory I’d be funny, but it took a fair while for me to realize I’d actually learned nothing from my year of study, and wasn’t very funny at all. It took some time reading everyone else’s tweets and trying to work out the formula for success until my comedic sensibility (ugh, pretension) really became as formed as it is.

Jerk Ethic: What’s your dream job and dream pay?

Avery Edison: Right now, my dream is to be Head Writer on Saturday Night Live, although regular writer would be fine, too. I’m slowly coming to terms with the idea that SNL may have imploded on itself by the time I’m good enough to work there. Still, I’d love to go down as someone who came on board and completely revitalized the show. There’s a whole bunch of arrogance in that dream, if you know where to look (read: everywhere.)

I’m torn between wanting the validation of working on something like SNL or The Daily Show, and my utter faith that television as we know it will die off in the next 10 years.

Also, I will only work on The Daily Show if they meet my demands of getting rid of everything that isn’t Jon Stewart talking directly to the camera. And that includes the whooping audience.

Dream pay is enough to have a fairly nice house, a few Macs, and a bit left over so I don’t have to worry about money too much. Although I grew up really poor, and still am, really, so I’m pretty resigned to always feeling that panic in the few seconds before my balance comes up on the ATM. I’d also like to earn enough that I can give most of it away to charity. I really don’t understand how movie stars and the like can get $10 million for a film and not think to themselves “Hey, at most I only really need $2 million to live like a person. Maybe I should contribute a little something to our fucked up world?”

Jerk Ethic: Have you ever been fired?

Avery Edison: I’m unsure. When I was 14, I worked at a small cafe in my home-town. Mostly in the kitchen running the dishwasher, but sometimes waiting tables and minding the counter in the storefront. It paid terribly, and was often exhausting. Most everyone else put up with it because they had some small modicum of maturity. I didn’t really, and when I got too sick of the job I went out on my lunch break and bought two cans of colored hairspray. I put my hair into a fauxhawk, sprayed red on one side, blue on the other, and then drew stripes on my cheeks. Then I went back to work.

After about half an hour I asked the manager what the period of notice was. He replied, “Two weeks, usually, but you can leave today if you want.” So I’m not really sure if I quit or got fired. Most people I speak to about it insist quite fervently that I got booted out of there.

Addendum: Both my older and younger sisters have worked at the same cafe, and for longer periods of time than myself. My big sis lasted about two years, and my younger one made it five. Me? Four months.

Jerk Ethic: Have you ever quit a job?

Avery Edison: I was working at the local supermarket and decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. So I didn’t go in. For, like, three days. I got calls from my manager a bunch of times, but didn’t pick up. It was an absolutely cowardly way to quit a job, but it worked pretty good. Except for the bit where they won’t write references for any new jobs I apply for (great in this economy) and the fact that when I visit home I can’t buy food because I’m just too ashamed to go in there.

Jerk Ethic: How did you know it was time to go?

Avery Edison: I’d worked there on-and-off for about three years, and always hated it. Because, well… retail, am I right? My final stint there took place after I’d come out as transgender, and I was still very much in the “awkward phase”. I wasn’t passing most of the time, and people I’d got along with fine before were confused and didn’t really know how to act around me. At first they let me go in black trousers and white shirt as they were out of new uniforms, but when the new clothes came in they were way too big and undid any work I attempted to give myself a more feminine shape. I was distraught at the thought of working in that outfit, and they wouldn’t budge. So I quit.

Jerk Ethic: What are the best job you’ve ever had?

Avery Edison: Those are the only two jobs I’ve ever had. And they were, by-and-large, terrible.

When I was in New Mexico I worked — unofficially, thanks to the INS — as a babysitter for a family I knew there. They had two kids, aged 4 and 7, and I had a bunch of fun looking after them. The family were a bit nuts (I was warned by the mother that one child could teleport and the other could go invisible) but they were great fun to be around, and made me feel very welcome. Although I’ve not been quite so welcome since coming out, so I guess that retroactively ruins any positive aspects of the experience.

Man, this is an upper, huh?

Jerk Ethic: What’s the worst job you can imagine?

Avery Edison: Retail. Although I’m biased, having lived through it.

That said, I tend to feel the same about any job that doesn’t involve me sitting at home making whatever I want to make that day. I don’t think I’ll ever hold down a “real” job, I’m just not built for it. I know that everyone hates having to work, but I honestly start to go insane in any kind of regulated, 9-5 environment. This is a bad thing, clearly, and also why I spend a lot of time hoping to one day make it big so I don’t have to worry about EFTPOS transactions or the like ever again.

Jerk Ethic: What’s your dream office?

Avery Edison: To start, I’d want every wall to be a whiteboard. There are never enough notebooks in the world, and I’m addicted to spider diagrams, so whiteboards are like crack to me. I’d want a nice big skylight in lieu of windows, but this is on the condition that it’s mostly sunny outside, as the rain would get annoying. I’d want the room to be sound-proofed. Nothing in there but the walls, a couple of desks (one for computer work, one for pen-and-paper,) and a comfy chair with wheels. Distractions are something I indulge way too easily, so I need as plain a space as possible.

That or an olde-timey style study, with floor to ceiling bookcases and a ladder on wheels. Maybe a parrot in the corner spouting Merlin Mann Approved quotes about creativity.

unstrung

Avery Edison would have to deal with a fanatical short girl asking her to hang out every five minutes if I lived in England. Thanks to Twitter, I know her, and, thanks to the Internet, she has a forum where she can continue to amaze strangers from across the pond. That’s the beauty of technology, especially in this economy: we can still create on an enormous level, even if it’s only one microblog post at a time.

Drop me a line, AinsleyDrew at gmail dot com. Thank you to everyone who donates, you keep me fed, and sheltered. Literally.

Hire us to write for you, your company, your website, your wedding vows. We’re always looking for work.

And you can follow me on Twitter, too, if you want.

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One Comment

  1. if i had any money at all to spare, i’d surely donate to you. but i’m pretty freaking broke at the moment. i miss you. xo


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