The Business of Self-Fulfilling Comedy
“Okay, Thursday night. Nine-thirty, eastern standard time.”
And with that, I set the date of the first Twitter poetry party, in the Fall of 2009.
It began as a joke. Four of us had been bantering on Twitter. One businessman challenged another, “You should write a poem for L.L.” and J.B. Wood had replied…
While I'm on the line
That's way too much
I'm making a sandwich).
One poetic thing led to another, and before the night was out, I’d tweeted the details of our first Twitter party. We met that Thursday night and had so much fun we met again and again.
Three years later, what began as a joke has grown to a website that’s received Twitter notice from NPR, Poetry Foundation, and a Wall Street Journal pundit. Top that with our first fiction title being showcased in O Magazine’s Summer Reading List, and one begins to wonder if laughter might, after all, be the best business plan.
To date, the jokes that have been made behind closed doors and in full view on various social media channels, have yielded surprising product ideas and business outcomes. Humorously riffing on a string of app names, for instance, we ended up developing WordCandy.me. The early stats of WordCandy, based on Beta signups, suggest the app has potential to go viral and draw a million users in its first year.
Our Team has a running joke that is, they realize, no laughing matter: Watch out for self-fulfilling comedy—the next joke might be the next bestseller.
Knowing the value of play, we promise our community that if they play, they will learn and grow. Some people believe us; others think we should get serious. After all, poetry has a reputation to preserve.
If we didn’t owe our very existence to a laugh, we also might forget that play has dynamic power to achieve the improbable. As a businessperson, if you have forgotten how to play or judge it as needless frivolity, you might want to dust off your laugh track. And get ready to get on track for self-fulfilling comedy.
Post by L.L. Barkat, Managing Editor of Tweetspeak Poetry, the makers of Every Day Poems and WordCandy. She is also the author of The Novelist, a fictional book on writing.
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