Twitter's Funniest Man

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Rahm Emanuel has just unlocked the Mayor badge in Chicago. http://bit.ly/bmXzPw

There, in less than 140 characters, is an exquisitely amusing encapsulation of the news that the White House chief of staff aspires to one day serve as mayor of Chicago. For those who don't get the joke, well, join Twitter and figure out what FourSquare is. But a lot of people are getting the joke. @pourmecoffee is the satirist responsible for those bon mots, and in the course of a year and a half of Twittering, has picked up nearly 10,000 followers. Short, crisp asides, pegged to the news of the day, are his specialty. He occasionally comments on the news (he does NOT like Greg Craig's decision to help Goldman Sachs), and occasionally tweets about science, music and technology.

Not bad for a 45-year-old guy who works in the recruiting industry for a day job and has no formal training in comedy.

"Like any truly insufferable person, I have a philosophy. This is the key to being pompous if you are playing at home. I put mine right in my Twitter profile and on my blog: 'Funny and/or interesting,'" he says.

(Mr. X agreed to speak with me on the condition that his identity remain anonymous. This might displease the New York Times public editor. Sorry about that.)

"That's my filter: I try not to hit send unless it's funny and/or interesting. It's amazing how that little switch can set you apart."

Think of his talent as a Ramones song: two minutes long, "all hooks and noise." There are no Emerson, Lake & Palmer jokes on Twitter or Abbot and Costello routines. "It's Gabba, Gabba, Hey," he says.

Why remain anonymous?

I use a pseudonym, at least for now, because I work on a contract basis and worry that being political would limit my opportunities. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty careful about not being vulgar, or even mean. I take some pride in having some prominent conservative followers. But, I have a team. I'm on the blue team. So, that's why I'm pseudonymous for now. If someone on the blue team wants to hire me permanently, I'll drop the pseudonym.

So he's a Democrat, but a thinking Democrat. (If you find that offensive, please see here.)

PMC did not know about Twitter until late in 2008. His exposure to the swamp land was as a frequent commenter on the Swampland Blog on Time, tended to by Ana Marie Cox. Twitter was perfect because PMC is a "blurter."

"Probably no one would be following me if it wasn't for Time's Karen Tumulty and Ana Marie Cox. They knew me from Swampland, and were early followers. If they hadn't retweeted me, I'd be unknown and would probably have moved on by now to really weird and perverted Chatroulette dress-up games. I think everyone is glad that didn't happen, as far as you know. Now I can thank them and, by linking them to me, effectively end their careers. Which is nice. You're welcome."

I've got my favorite @pourmecoffee Tweets, but here are some of his best:

Playing Palin Scrabble. Not a lot of fun. We just make stuff up, get challenged and quit. (Palin, he admits, is low-hanging fruit.)

Cheney makes better sense if you add, "-- , Clarice" to the end of his sentences. "Torture worked, Clarice." (This works, he noted, because of the way it sounds when you read it, provided you know the reference.)

I'm not saying Santa isn't from the North Pole. I'm just saying produce the birth certificate, that's all. (The timing is key here: he Tweeted this at Christmas.)

Samuel L. Jackson to address nation about what must not be allowed on planes. (Humor to relieve tension.)

All the things we did / are unconstitutional / when you do them now. #gop #haiku 

(He reasons that people like haiku.)

So, having mastered the genre--find an enemy and add an insult--and having regularly beaten late night comics and satirist to the punch, does @pourmecoffee have any higher aspirations for his talents?

I'll say this: people are hungry on Twitter. They are starving. For reporting. For analysis. For detail. For interaction, and yes, for humor. They are like bees out there, buzzing and swarming over the good stuff and moving on to the next. If you want to get landed on, don't concentrate on flying and talking with the swarm ("Hey, where are we going?")  -- stop and plant something sweet. Offer up something. Nothing nasty. What is wrong with you? You are sick. Something useful.
Then he added: "Thank you for asking me these questions Marc, but now I think I can best serve Alaska from outside this interview by the lamestream media."
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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