One day a hilarious snowman with no nose appeared in my timeline. Ever since I took notice this gentlemen's writing has become professional grade. He hits home runs every time and he's one helluva nice guy. I'm pleased as punch and disappointed as your mother to get behind the guy I hope never shuts up.
We get it poets: things are like other things
— shut up, mike (@shutupmikeginn) September 8, 2014
LET'S GET TO KNOW @shutupmikeginn:
HI! Who the hello are you?
I’m Mike Ginn a 27-year-old from Seattle who likes to make people laugh. After that it all gets a bit hazy.
Where do you get the inspiration for your writing?
I got really into newspaper cartoons at a very early age. For whatever reason, Dilbert was my favorite. Something about the early 90s office culture humor really resonated within my 6-year-old brain. Soon after that I discovered The Simpsons which immediately became my favorite thing in the world. At twelve I started drawing cartoons instead of paying attention in school. Writing jokes like this in one form or another stuck with me my whole life. It sort of became a game I could play with myself when school got slow. I’m still a god awful drawer, but I can think in cartoons and humor now.
How often do you tweet? Do you keep a schedule? Please breakdown your process, if you have one.
It feels like way too much. Maybe 5-7 times a day, and every 4th or 5th day I won't at all. Usually if I'm on a long bus ride I'll fire off something. Sometimes I’ll wake up and tell myself “no twitter today” and then I won’t at all. If I come up with something I'll put it in my phone notes and save it for later. Scheduling was never really my thing, but I used to pay a lot of attention to peak hours when I posted. Like, i wouldn't tweet after ten because most of the East Coast would be in bed. These days I don't pay attention to that at all. Probably I have some followers in Europe now who don't realize how often they read stuff from me that I wrote during the middle of my night.
My process should not be called a process. Very rarely do I sit down and write tweets or one liners. More often I'm writing something else and a turn of phrase will catch me or my mind will wander a little too far. The ones that seem to resonate with people more are the ones that come as a way to cope with life stuff. If I’m feeling anxious about something, thinking about it in enough to make a joke out of it feels therapeutic. To actually sit there with whatever is making you crazy and play with it in your head, you almost always feel a bit better afterward.
Every once in a while a full ready to go thought will appear fully formed in my head. Those are the best. Not because they're more true, i'm just lazy.
You seem to have the perfect sense of balance in terms of, you know you shouldn't be online all the time, even though you are a such a gifted writer. Is this all an elaborate ruse or are you the patient zero of how to Tweet?
Mostly I just have a lot of experience with repetitive compulsive behavior. Even when I was a little kid it was a problem for me. I think it’s just how I’m wired: if I like something I’ll just repeat it over and over until my life is in shambles. So, joining Twitter in my mid-twenties, I had a lot of practice of things going too far in my life and I knew to be wary. When I feel the need-beast start to raise its ugly head, I’ll turn my phone off for the rest of the day. Twitter has the potential to be addicting & damaging. Hopefully in the end I’ll take more out of Twitter than it took out of me.
What are your hobbies in real life?
Movies. I had a crush on this girl in high school and she was really into foreign movies because they were cool and foreign. So I started watching a bunch so I’d have something to talk to her about. She didn’t have much interest in talking to me, but it sort of opened me up to how much depth and goodness was in cinema. Now I’ll watch anything and everything.
Besides movies I really enjoy walking around and trying new restaurants. Ok, I’ll stop there, this is starting to sound like an online dating profile.
What are some of your favorite books?
Growing up Harry Potter was the biggest deal in the world to me. Sorcerer’s Stone came out when I was nine or ten, which was perfect. It felt like Rowling was describing me when she described Harry. It was the first ‘aha’ moment reading when I totally connected to a character’s train of thought. Harry Ron and Hermione basically went through puberty exactly when I did, which was like the best thing. If I ever meet JK Rowling I’m going to fall to the ground, hug her feet, and probably cry. Some of my favorites as an adult are A Confederacy of Dunces, Call of the Wild, The Great Gatsby, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Catcher in the Rye, Kasher in the Rye, and a ton of nonfiction whose names all escape me. I’ll read just about anything, but I tend to stay away from the heavily postmodern. Most of my favorites are really more interesting to me on an emotional level than a critical or academic one. My major in college was English. The notion of becoming a novelist frightened me because you could easily lose a few decades before you realized you weren’t good enough.
What are some hobbies you rampantly lie about having on the Internet?
Do you sit down at your computer to write tweets or do they just come to you?
Occasionally I’ll actually sit down to write tweets, but that’s usually just me wanting to feel like a writer. When I do so, I usually riff off the gigantic, mostly nonsensical notes section in my phone. Most of the time though, I’m out and something will come to me. External stimuli help me be creative. Since I was little kid I’ve trained my brain to focalize everything through a comedic lens, so I’m always processing through that slant. Humor was a defense mechanism for me from a very young age, so it’s been interesting to repurpose it. Probably not the greatest thought pattern to be a healthy happy human, but it makes the writing come naturally.
What are your long-term goals? TV writing? Total switch-up and only post sonnets on ello? Zepplin operator? Open that jar of olives?
Jars of olives are gauche. The grocery store near me has a really slick antipasto olive bar bulk section. I’ve got this cool system where I fill up a container with klamata olives, and ring it up as cornmeal at self-checkout. I call the system ‘stealing olives.’
My goal is TV writing and has been from the get go. I started tweeting strictly to get better at writing. Figured that if I could write a few daily, I’d at the very least get a bunch of bad jokes out of my system. I expected my audience to be a few friends from college. My favorite comedy has always been on television. The Simpson’s and David Letterman raised me. My dream job is staff writer on a team that shares my sensibilities. If I ever get anything cool like that, my plan is to just be the nicest person there, and always work 16 hour days so I never get fired. I’d want to do that until I died from it.
How many jellybeans am I holding right now?
Dude those aren’t jelly beans I think your dog ate crayons again.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out in writing?
Write when you don't feel OK enough to write. It's not that this is necessarily going to produce anything magical, but if you can reach some sort of catharsis doing it, you’ll be hooked. Make a positive association in your head with writing and feeling ok. Once I was able to do that, I found I just really enjoyed writing for its own sake. I have a long ways to go, but I improved tremendously when I was able to make it a habit. Trust your instincts on what kind of writing you should be doing. Seriously though, I am the one who should be asking for advice.
Do you think it's weird that Thor never had nails with him?
Just want to say that I think Thor should be banging that hot Asgardian warrior princess instead of *mere earthling Natalie Portman (*EDITOR HIGHLY DISAGREES)
Did you choose a cartoon avatar on purpose?
It was sort of accidental in the sense that I had no idea the ‘cartoon avatar / weird twitter / whatever you want to call it association was a thing. It was calculated in the sense that I wanted the picture to match whatever voice people projected onto my tweets. Mostly I just remember finding the image really simple and appealing. I never really assessed my privacy; if I had maybe I wouldn’t have included my last name in my handle. Probably most people just assume I’m very ugly, and that works out just perfect for comedy.
How many snakes am I thinking about right now?
Eight? Or is that supposed to be an octopus? Please concentrate Sam your brain’s a mess.
Are there any themes you try to play up in your timeline?
Certainly there are phases, but a consistent one has been feeling bad about myself on the bus. I ride the bus a lot (things are going well!) and it’s really easy to get down on yourself while riding. I suspect it has something to do with the weird lighting.
Do you have a falcon connection?
I’m not a huge fan of “majestic” birds like eagles or falcons. I only like the goofy ones that are too tall or fat or can’t fly.
Who are two under-followed people that you'd like to shine a spotlight on right now?
What are you going as for Halloween?
Taping numbers 1-25 randomly all over my body and being, “someone you can count on.” It’s cheap, easy, and I’m lazy.
Do you think it's weird when people dress their pets in costumes? I used to but now I don't.
Yeah I’m sort of in the same boat. I used to hate it but I think what I was really hating was myself. Costumed pets are pure pleasure and deserve our respect.
YOU CAN ONLY PICK ONE: Unlimited supply of laser-discs, an actual Wall of Sound, or DiGirionos? (please explain why)
Umm the first two are so abstract that they frighten me, so I’ll take the pizza.
When the Internet bums you out what do you do to feel good again?
The last year or so I’ve been really big on graphic novels. I find them very engaging & soothing. I’ll also cook or eat ice cream until I don’t feel feelings.
Do you wanna play laser tag in the next six months?
Absolutely! We should do a big Twitter laser tag meet-up. Someone reading this: If you organize it in New York, I’ll fly out for it.
What do you get out of Twitter at the the end of the day?
If nothing else, I feel good when I make people laugh.
When I asked for a bag at Trader Joe's the cashier sighed like there was a bag shortage and she had a baby that could only eat bags
— shut up, mike (@shutupmikeginn) August 24, 2014
Follow @shutupmikeginn on the Twitter dot com.