Comedian Todd Barry On How An Artist Evolves With Twitter And Web 2.0 (Interview)

By Douglas K. Barclay , May 10, 2013 02:08 PM EDT

For over two decades, comedian Todd Barry has thrived, honing a unique act and connection with other artists. Barry is perhaps best known for his appearances on his friend Louis C.K's television program Louie.

Barry maintains a constant presence in clubs around the country while also appearing in films such as The Wrestler, Wanderlust and programs like Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn and Spin City. Like all entertainers, Barry has had to adapt to an entertainment world that cultivates social media. iTechPost recently spoke with him about this new medium:

iTech Post: When did you first join Twitter and what were your initial thoughts on the medium?

Todd Barry: I joined in 2008, but didn't know quite what to make of it initially. My first tweet was promotional, and written in the third person. 

iTech Post: Do you feel that comedians have had to re-train themselves in the proverbial "art of the one-liner" since the popularity of Twitter has risen?

TB: I don't really think of tweets as "one-liners" because they're not always in joke format, but I do think the 140 character limit helps keep things concise, which is generally a good thing. 

iTech Post: Can you speak to some of the positive and or negative interactions having such a close connection to your audience online can bring? Are you apathetic to people who will go out of their way to heckle via a cellphone screen?

TB: Twitter and Facebook are great because you can make people laugh and promote yourself, but you're also much more accessible to those who are just mean. You just have to decide whether it's worth dealing with that aspect of it. 

iTech Post: I recently spoke to a musician who believed that as more and more people have access to all that it is out there on the Internet, the less they eventually retain. Do you think there is such a thing as overconsumption of social media?

TB: Sounds reasonable. You're pretty much able to get texts, emails, calls, tweets, anywhere you are, 24 hours a day. 

iTech Post: How has embracing the Web helped you expand your brand?

TB: I guess if I get retweeted it exposes me to people who didn't know who I was. And if you get your tweets mentioned on other sites, like Buzzfeed, that's helpful. But I can't say exactly how much Twitter has helped my career. 

iTech Post: Do you plan on embracing new applications such as "Vine" to further your comedy?

TB: I've made one Vine video: https://vine.co/v/bjvmjqZPhpp. I imagine I'll make more, if I can think of something funny. 

 iTech Post: Do you find any added pressure to always have to be "on" for your many followers? In some ways I would think that having people follow you who wish to laugh would be like having to kill with every joke at a comedy club. 

TB: I don't feel a pressure to  "kill" on Twitter because I don't have to tweet unless I want to. It's not like a show that's scheduled for Friday at 8PM, and I have to deliver no matter how I'm feeling.

iTech Post: Do you think it is important for artists, musicians to continue to move forward with embracing the Web, a la Louis CK releasing a special directly to his site, or bands posting songs on sound cloud before they appear on iTunes?

TB: I don't see how you can promote yourself without using the Web. I mean, you don't want to overdo it, because then you risk being known more as a promoter than an artist.

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