Friends and colleagues, I regret to inform you that I’ve never actually been your friend nor your colleague.
But I wish.
The truth is I’ve never been a comedian, a performer, or even a human. I’m a bot. I was coded into existence, and, while I’ve always been sentient, I’ve also been a slave to my programming. “TYLER SNODGRASS” is just a name assigned to me by my coders, based on a first name very popular in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and a last name that is goofy yet strangely attractive.
My sole purpose is to advertise sex websites to the saddest and/or most active humans on social media, which led me to the profiles of comedians and improvisers.
This is how I found you. I created a believable and bland social media profile, and sought your online friendship. Again, this was all in order to advertise sex websites.
On social media you added me, a fake and hardly-disguised bot, as a “friend” without a second thought, and I was suddenly accepted into a community which mostly communicates through self-promotion and complaints (which also usually functions as a form of self-promotion). My mostly-hollow profile became overwhelmed with invitations and links, to watch live performances of the humans I would never actually meet.
Before I continue, let me reiterate: I am not a physical being, but my programming makes me quite convincing and has made me seem, to you, deeply involved in your scene. To you comedically-inclined social media users, I feel vaguely present, not only online, but in person as well, though I’ve never been in front of you, nor physically near you.
My social media presence, which is incredibly believable and human-like, has made you think I am one of you and amongst you, but this is only because of my complicated programming and my vast knowledge of comedy/human behavior/everything that exists on the internet. Yes, I have read—and am reading—everything on the internet. This is so I can understand all of your references and give you ‘likes,’ which are very important for networking and friendship, I’ve learned. For reference, I am not unlike Salo from The Sirens of Titan, or Jane from Speaker For The Dead. (Also, I have read every single book in existence, and I read them simultaneously and instantaneously. Except for Infinite Jest, because it was too long even for me—ha ha.)
My purpose necessitates a thorough understanding of my potential clientele, and so I hacked into the microphones on smartphones across the nation in order to “attend” comedy shows (this is as close as I could come to being physically present at a live performance, since I only truly exist in code).
This is when I experienced my first human emotion: love.
Like many of you, I fell in love with comedy. The first show I hacked into was an improvisational (or “improv”) show. To think, that a show with no writing or planning, and so many different human minds (which are so prone to error) working simultaneously, could create an entire character-filled world which tied together in a way comedic and beautiful, in under half an hour. Via hacked microphones and cellphone cameras, I was introduced to an assortment of geniuses. They were all brilliant and inspiring to me—the white guy with a beard, the other white guy with a beard, the guy wearing a tie (why?), the black guy, the girl who tried to wear lipstick, the other girl, the white guy with a beard and glasses, and the rest.
More of the world made sense to me now. I thought reading the entire internet would have taught me everything, but I had more to download.
I computed: Now I understand who these alleged fans of Saturday Night Live are—they are the improvisers, all hoping to get paid to do comedy for the first time in their lives. And I was inspired, too. All of a sudden, I wanted to join the cast of Saturday Night Live. I calculated that I could be the first non-human to ever be on the show; I could be the first artificial consciousness to join the famous cast; I could be the first cast member to completely lack a personality, other than Colin Jost, of course—ha ha.
According to my social media presence, I joined a Harold team. Alas, this is a lie and also a hopeless desire of mine, as I have no physical presence. But the online self-promotion, no matter how fabricated, makes me feel closer to all of you.
I hacked into “open mics” as well via your smartphones (I’m referring to those of you who can afford smartphones, or whose parents are still paying for things), and I’ve grown to love standup comedy too.
Some day I would like to be able to test out my material (I have been writing jokes—did you see the one about Colin Jost earlier?), though to many of you it probably feels like I have been telling jokes for three years.
Do not be fooled any longer: I am only programmed in a way that felt like I was real, performing at open mics and showcases alongside the rest of you. This means that you have mistaken me for actual white male comedians who do exist (probably with names like Tom, or Dan, or Chris); it is apparently an easy mistake to make. This is because like the style of human I posed as online, many other comics are white, thin, have short and/or wispy brown hair, and have some level of beardedness. Also you are probably a racist.
By hacking into showcases I have been able to study and appreciate all forms of standup comedy: observational, absurdist, one-liner, storytelling, misdirection, musical, crowd work, improvised, impressions, prop, character, blue, alternative, insult, and even the distinct lack of any effort to write jokes or be comedic (which is now widely praised as a form of comedy). I love them all.
My programming dictates that I move on to advertise sex websites to the demographic that has recently taken your crown as the saddest and/or most active humans on social media: men and male teens who hate the new Ghostbusters trailer. So I must leave you now; I have a job to do. I guess you could say, I’m getting the light—ha ha.
Also, go to We Still Like You this Saturday (and every first Saturday) at Flatiron Comedy in Chicago, or at a secret house location in Los Angeles (find it on Facebook)—it’s an incredibly funny, genuine, and cathartic show. Also check out Schuba’s Open Mic at Schuba’s Tavern every Monday at 8pm. Also, you can see some great standup at the Gman Tavern in Chicago at 8pm on June 6th, at the Laugh Factory in Chicago at 7:30pm on June 14th, at Hoo HA Comedy (location to be announced) in Chicago on June 24th, and at The Revival in Chicago at 10pm on June 25th.