Saturday, February 7, 2009

TJ's Week Five: Impersonating a Celebrity

This one was rather accidental. And while Tony assures me that successfully impersonating a celebrity is pretty awesome, I'm inclined to think it's more morally gray than awesome.

But what do I know? I'm just some asshole with a good Twitter name.

Y'see, it all started a few days ago. I was speaking to an online friend who has nabbed the Twitter username @HughLaurie. He's most assuredly not Hugh Laurie, nor does he pretend very well to be Hugh Laurie. And yet, nearly 3,000 people follow him for whatever reason. Misguided faith in the veracity of Twitter usernames? Boredom? For the lulz? Who knows for certain.

But I bet him that if I tried to impersonate a really low-ranking celebrity, it wouldn't be anywhere near as popular. He told me to give it a go.

So that's how a twenty-five year old, environmentally-conscious lesbian in Brooklyn ending up pretending to be a middle-aged, gun-toting motoring journalist who hosts shows about cars blowing up on the BBC.

I honestly couldn't imagine anyone at all following this silly Twitter account; it was just me making stupid one-liners. And yet here we are today, and I've passed the 1,000 follower mark. I'm strangely proud of that.

During the past week, I've tentatively replied to a fan with lolacious results, I created a hashtag for people to share pics of their cars with me, and I've posted a few car-related news items. Hardly anything genius, I know, but folks seem to enjoy it. And before I knew it, I was enjoying it too. The biggest joke, of course, is Twitter itself, since my fake celebrity would never in a million years use a computer except under duress, and would surely never use Twitter. So half the jokes I make are about trying to "get a hold of this Twitter thing." It's gotten a bit meta, as people come to me with their homegrown explanations of how to use Twitter. (No one, by the way, has suggested I use Twitter to impersonate a semi-celebrity. Shows what they know about proper Twitter usage.)

Because I didn't want my pants sued off, I clearly stated in my bio that I'm not real. But it appears that either no one reads bios or no one cares and is happily playing along, because so far 99% of people are treating me like the real Clarkson. It's absolutely bizarre. Chicks are digging on me, children are begging me to tell their parents to get a cooler car, and strange chaps with bad haircuts are challenging me to drag races.

Unsurprisingly, I'm starting to take this pretty seriously. I wanted to have fun on Teh Internetz, but I also didn't want to be a douchebag (unless I was being a douchebag in character). So my rules are: 1) don't give out faulty and stupid car advice, 2) don't claim to ever be real, and 3) don't talk about "personal" things.

I just want to make stupid jokes. But I also want to keep up the realistic tone. I comb over every single character in my allotted 140 every time I tweet. I dread making some Americanism or otherwise showing my hand and ruining the joke. I think I'm doing pretty okay so far. At one point, I thought about making a joke about nannies giving us juice boxes, but right before I hit "update" I thought, no, they probably don't say "juice box" in the UK. I Wiki'd it and sure nuff, it's "carton" over there. Well, just carton? Or juice carton? I decided to play it safe and make a joke about naps instead.

Turns out, lots of people have opinions on naps.

The only downside to this whole venture is, no matter how entertaining I might be, I'm always tied to the real celebrity and his doings. Today upon logging in, I found a pile of tweets from people demanding I apologize to the blind. Oh god, I thought, what have "I" done now?

Turns out "I" insulted the half-blind Prime Minister by calling him a one-eyed Scot. Christ. "I" should really think before I fucking talk, shouldn't "I"?

In fact, maybe "I" should step aside and let fake-me (that's me-me) take over all public relations from here on out. I'm obviously doing a fine job of it. I sound believable, I'm vaguely amusing, and no one's getting offended at anything I say. In fact, it's mostly a lot of picture-swapping of silly cars. Wholesome family fun.

Now if I can just figure out how to blow up a caravan on Twitter...

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