How’s this for a pre-emptive parody: The first TV spoof of "$#*! My Dad Says,” the new CBS cranky-old-man sitcom inspired by a popular Twitterfeed, aired in the half hour before the show's debut last Thursday.
The second season premiere of NBC's "Community" featured a subplot in which Troy (Donald Glover) starts a Twitter account chronicling the bizarre bon mots spewed by his classmate, roommate and all-around racially insensitive senior citizen Pierce (Chevy Chase).
The account name: Old White Man Says. A sample tweet: "Look at us, living together, driving together. We're like Batman and Shaft!"
The bit generated more laughs than the entirety of the new CBS show starring William Shatner. Taking the gag to another level, Troy’s tweets were going out on a real/fake Twitter account as the character was hitting the send button.
It marked a clever meta moment at a time when the worlds of the Web, TV and the movies are colliding, often in strange ways. The intermeshing also is inspiring humor – on TV and the Internet.
“Tosh.0,” in which comedian Daniel Tosh primarily riffs on YouTube videos, recently became Comedy Central’s top-rated show.
The trailer for "The Social Network," the upcoming movie about Facebook, already has spurred a slew of parodies on the Web (our favorite: one that re-envisions the film as the story of Twitter – “If Twitter was as useless and boring as they say, someone would have tweeted it!”).
This month brought the debut of a promising humor website called “A Bajillion Hits” that’s devoted to mocking the social media world, tech blogs and the growing obsession with going viral. Comedy writer Alex Blagg takes on the persona of a social media guru, offering posts like "20 Social Media Awards I Just Made Up" (No. 1: Most Re-Tweeted Twitterblast).
He also put up a video branding himself as top Web strategist and marketing expert: "I don't think outside the box,” he says, brimming with arrogance. “I put the box on Twitter, get it a million followers and then sell the movie rights."
Blagg couldn't have known when he posted the satirical video that another Twitter-based show already was in the works.
The Hollywood Reporter noted this week that Ashton Kutcher, one of the first celebrities to embrace social media, is producing the latest Twit-com. This show, instead of being about a man tweeting about living with his crotchety father, is about a man tweeting about living with an eccentric roommate named Steve.
“Shelly stopped by. Asked Steve to put on pants. Steve: ‘I don't wear pants when I'm sick. How long have we known each other?’" is one typical recent post to "Shh … Don't Tell Steve.”
The feed is fine for the odd chuckle, but isn’t as near as funny as the "$#*! My Dad Says” Twitter account. But who can tell whether "Steve" will translate any better to the boob tube than the critically drubbed Shatner effort?
Meanwhile, the folks at Tosh’s website reacted to the news of Kutcher’s deal with CBS by starting a Twitter feed – called "Johnny Sitcom" – that posts the fake exploits of made-up character in a blatant attempt to “sell a sitcom for millions.”
Tosh’s feed might turn out to be funnier than any new Twitter TV show – and we’re all for good social media parodies. Check out a couple of our recent favorites below:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.