I'm more of a Prius parent. My heart's in the right place, I'm good for my environment but I'm still kind of lame and people make fun of me.
— Lance Burson (@lanceburson) August 24, 2015
Things to know about @lanceburson
Name: Thomas Lance Burson. I’ve never had a nickname but the four women I live with refer to me as “The Home Improvement Project”.
Living in: Atlanta Suburbia in a town I like to call “The Hill Of Sugar” (Sugar Hill, GA).
Number of followers: 4700ish but who’s counting? Right, fellow twitterers and twits?
Year graduated high school: Officially, 1988. But it feels like 1888.
When did you start tweeting? I opened an account in the summer of 2009 but did nothing with it till May 2010 when I started my current blog. Then I lost all control of my narcissism.
Why do politicians consider it weakness to apologize? I live w 4 women. I say I'm sorry 10 times before breakfast just to survive.
— Lance Burson (@lanceburson) February 22, 2016
On to the interview!
Tell us about your family.
On marriage number 2 but it’s doing great, well my key worked this morning. I live with a bunch of women and by that I mean a wife and three daughters. My girls are 12, 13 and 20. That’s a pre-teen, a teenager and a college junior. I don’t want to hear about your online bullying, I have my own haters without ever logging onto the internet.
Why did you join Twitter?
My wife recommended it for my writing and to follow my favorite bands and sports teams. Then I restarted my blog and started promoting my writing. That all devolved into me just tweeting my daily neuroses and stand up comedy. I’m in too deep, now.
What do you do when you’re not on Twitter?
I’m a freelance writer. I’ve written for many different journalistic sites and published two books,The Ballad Of Helene Troy (a character study of a rock musician) and Soul To Body (a family story of a wasted-up musician raising his teen daughter after his wife dies), both are available on Amazon for kindle and in paperback on lulu.com. I also do stand up comedy about three to five nights a week. I’m crazy in other ways, too.
That’s a lot of stand up. What’s that like? How long are your sets?
Stand up is the scariest and most awesome creative thing I’ve ever done, short of being a parent to teenagers. I do open mics at 5 to 10 minutes at a time then I do feature sets at 10 to 15 minutes and I’ve headlined several times at 20 to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I’m sick of hearing myself talk.
When you do your stand up three to five nights a week, do you come up with new material for those nights or is is the same material? If it’s the same, how often do you change it?
I have a material for 5, 10, 15 and 30 min sets. I swap out material depending on the show.
A video of Lance’s stand up.
Do you use any of your tweets in your stand-up?
Sure. I didn’t realize before I went back to stand up in spring 2015, but I’ve been writing stand up jokes for years.
I know they’re completely different, but what do you like better about Twitter than standup? And vice versa?
I like Twitter for following sports and news and politics and my favorite bands. I also enjoy twitter because of the very creative people who never see a stage. But stand up is amazing because you’re in front of people and watching them laugh or not laugh at you. It’s a thrill you don’t get from the computer screen.
If people wanted to see you do your stand-up, how can they find out where you’re scheduled?
I post my schedule on Twitter and Facebook almost daily. I need to turn my blog into that, too. Thanks for reminding me. I’m onstage three to five nights a week in Atlanta where I live but I’ve also done stand up in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington where I work for my day job.
I’m assuming you tele-commute for your day job in Seatlle?
Sometimes. I travel there once a month for a week at a time. It makes me want to live on the west coast bad.
Do you feel like you’re more comfortable doing stand-up or tweeting?
I never feel comfortable. What is that? Freak. But I guess stand up. I mean once you get into a groove with a good audience in a good club it’s a pretty organic experience. I cry in public.
You cry in public?
I meant that I am uber neurotic. I never feel confident or comfortable. So I fidget, and sometimes I have little nervous breakdowns.
What kinds of topics do you cover in your stand up? I know you’re on the left side of politics, do you cover politics in your stand up?
I drop in political stuff to describe myself and talk about my weird relationship with my family and my experiences growing up as a lefty in the righty south with a very conservative family. But I don’t preach or tell people who to vote for (Hillary…do it.) I sprinkle in topical stuff with jokes about my family and being a total neurotic mess. I also like making pop culture references and talk about being a music and literary snob.
It's really easy to get along with people these days if you don't mention politics, religion, family, sports, music, books, movies or life.
— Lance Burson (@lanceburson) June 7, 2016
What is your process for composing a tweet or writing a joke?
Top of mind, stream of consciousness and whatever comes to me when I’m picking a kid up from cheer practice , basketball game or standing in line at the mall holding the purse of one of the four women I live with. I’m very organic and natural with my tweeting and stand up.
So you have a blog, My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. Tell us a little about it.
Mostly it’s thoughtful essays on writing, politics, pop culture and being a whack job. I used my blog to promote my writing and my books until a couple of years ago, then I just started typing out posts about what it’s like trying to be a creative person in this day and age.
What 80s movie do you identify with the most?
Rocky IV, when Apollo gets beaten to death by Ivan Drago. No? Okay maybe Better Off Dead. John Cusack’s character in that is what I was like as a teenager. I’d also give a nod to Breakfast Club. Just because.
I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS! I had to say it. Okay, do you ever panic that you’ll never come up with another funny thing to say again?
Like right now?
Thanks for the pressure. ………………………….. Yes. I’ll cry myself to sleep tonight.
My 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. Finally, someone in my house is more annoying then me.
— Lance Burson (@lanceburson) January 8, 2016
We all have tweets that bomb. What goes through your mind when a tweet bombs? Have you had a joke bomb on stage? If so, how was that experience?
I don’t trust people who don’t bomb. That’s not real. Life is one bomb after another with success here and there when you least expect it. Also, I cry myself to sleep a lot, obviously.
Do you feel like you have a good handle on which tweets will be successful and which ones won’t?
No. Never. In fact none of what I think I do that’s funny works on the Twitter. I’ll say stuff on stage that will crush it, and it flunked the Twitter test. I have no answers. Hold me.
Why do you think that is?
The written word and spoken word are very different. You can read something with no connection to the author and just take it for yourself because there’s no emotional connection. Doing stand up, your facial expressions, word choices, style, the way you’re dressed, your delivery and your body language are more important than the actual words. It’s so damn complicated. You see why I cry?
Yes, I do. I’d cry too. Who are some comedians who have influenced you?
Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Richard Lewis (I’m convinced he’s my real dad), Jerry Seinfeld, Marc Maron, Louis CK, Dave Attell, Janeane Garafalo, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt and many others.
I try to teach my daughters the important things in life; tell the truth, believe in yourself, and never, ever read Internet comments.
— Lance Burson (@lanceburson) April 17, 2016
What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to get better at joke writing on Twitter?
Be honest. Be brave. Be yourself. If you’re funny, it’ll show. Don’t rip off other people’s styles and formats. If you have to read someone else before you tweet your own, you’re doing it wrong. Also, get a good therapist.
Tell us something about yourself people on Twitter may not know.
I like long walks on the beach and a really strong running game. I’m ambidextrous. And I’ve never laughed at a vine, ever.
Is there anything else you’d like to say or share?
Please vote this November, regardless. Also, spay and neuter your pets. Bob Barker won’t be around forever to tell you this. And be nicer to each other, unless it’s funny.
Name five tweeters whose tweets consistently make you laugh.
Thanks for the interview, Lance! Enjoyed it!
Me: "I feel like I wasted 10 years of my life."
Therapist: "Are we talking about your 1st marriage or how long you've been on social media?"
— Lance Burson (@lanceburson) June 28, 2016
In case you missed it, last time on Beyond the Bio: @cray_at_home_ma.
A butt-load of the funniest parenting tweets all packed into one place! – The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets, available on Amazon. Or try the original, The Big Book of Parenting Tweets. They make great gifts!