My Interview with Beth Argyropoulos or as I like to call her Beth Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrg!
If you liked the special guest interview I did with Beth Argyropoulos on the very fabulous, Hall of Tweets: Beyond the Bio with @KateWhineHall http://halloftweets.com/2016/01/beyond-the-bio-interview-with-gobmentcheese/ then you will enjoy this never seen before director’s cut.
K: Your name?
M: Marietta Rodgers is my pen name; my real name is Melissa. Very few people know that fact; I figured I would start small and tell the whole internet.
K: Where do you live?
M: The United States of ‘Murica in Greensboro, NC (historic civil rights sit-in, home of O’Henry, Orson Scott Card & Glamour Shots probably)
K: When did you start tweeting?
M: A few years ago, I needed an internet presence to help promote my first book, The Bill.
K: How many followers do you have?
M: I have close to 7k currently.
K: What year did you graduate high school?
M: I graduated at the height of the flannel shirt epidemic.
K: What do you do when you’re not on Twitter? (career/hobbies)
M: I have two degrees, they are in Accounting and Business and like all people with two degrees; I barely even use one of them. I work in an office and rearrange the Treasure Trolls on my desk all day. You can see where the writing and comedy would come naturally with a background like that. My main hobby is eating cheese, but sometimes I like to spend time with my kids, when it doesn’t interfere with my cheese thing, because they are pretty cool. I read extensively; I’m all over the map as far as genres go, but I love satire and absurdist/existentialism. I like Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Joseph Heller, Anthony Burgess, Tom Stoppard and Martin McDonagh, just to name a few. I also like atheist authors Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal and Salman Rushdie. I’m working on my third novel, which is currently untitled.
B: Can you tell us what your Twitter handle means?
M: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. I’m extremely political and I wanted to combine politics with cheese somehow and I think I very subtly accomplished that. The antisocialsocialist is just because I like people, I just don’t want them anywhere near me.
B: Your 1980s tweets are incredible. Thank you for that. I often put on leg warmers and play my Casio keyboard guitar circa 1987 to score your awesomeness. Tell me, what do you miss about the 80s?
M: Thank you; I’m usually wearing my parachute pants, cheap plastic accessories and singing Mr. Roboto, while I type them. I miss the fun and the corniness of that era; it was definitely a decade that didn’t take itself too seriously. I mean John Carpenter movies and movies like Highlander and Flash Gordon are just like lightening in a bottle; you can’t make those movies today and have the same effect. Jack Burton and Snake Plissken are like comic book characters; they’re larger than life. I think anyone who was a kid during that time, would agree, that there are endless 80’s jokes to be made. I’ve forced my kids to watch and listen to 80’s movies and music, like any good parent, and they think it’s the best/worst thing ever. My kids are cool; they get the irony.
B: Your blog, mariettarodgers.wordpress.com, is unlike most I’ve seen in that it seems to be an ongoing story. Can you tell me more about that?
M: I’m writing a story with a long time friend of mine, Bryan Robertson (@Chyld). He and I met during the complaint rock years. I was dating a friend of his and he was dating a friend of mine; we’ve remained friends through the years. It’s just mainly us doing what we have always done, which is to laugh at our own jokes and be nonsensical. We are the Andy Kaufman and Bob Zmuda of the internet. I also conduct interviews to help support my friend’s endeavors. I plan on writing some funny essays as well, but I have to put that on the back burner to write my third novel and goof off on Twitter, because priorities.
B: I can’t wait to read a funny essay by you, lady. As you know, I’m new to the whole blog thing. There seems to be this incredibly snarky attitude when you tell someone you have a blog. Probably why I’ve avoided it for so long. I’m a wuss. I feel that a blog to a writer is the same thing as playing gigs in small bars to an up and coming band, or an artist having a small show at a lesser known gallery. I’m not sure why there is so much sneering towards a person trying to find their voice as a writer in a form of a blog? What are your thoughts?
M: That’s a great analogy. People often look at blogs like it’s a Twisted Sister cover band. I think there is a snarky attitude to blogs, podcasts, etc., mainly because there are so many of them out there, but it helps get your work noticed and that’s the primary goal. I think it’s all just a matter of finding your target audience.
B: Great Points. And it’s funny you mention “Twisted Sister Cover Band” because in 2016 my blog will be solely about bands who play Twisted Sister. Tell me, what 1980s band would you want to be a member of and why?
M: The Fat Boys rap group, because I meet both their criteria and Stryper for obvious reasons.
B: Darling, you’re thin and fabulous. Pah-leese! OK, Your latest book, Looney Bin Incorporated, is brilliant, and to me, seems to be almost be in the great tradition of southern Gothic mixed with, say, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” What was your primary inspiration for writing this book?
M: Thank you; it was a lot of fun to write and a lot more light-hearted humor than my first novel, The Bill. I primarily wrote it as a jab to big business and how they control everything from the news to the government. The story is an amalgam of a couple of different jobs I had right out of college. I actually wrote a play about it originally and submitted it in a BBC contest (no, I didn’t win).
B: Are any of the characters in your books based on people you know?
M: Yes, I worked for a nonprofit when I lived in New York, which provided services for chronically, mentally ill clients. There were some schizophrenic clients, who would come in, and one time I was in the office alone with a woman, who was having a conversation with herself and laughing. Those were some good times.
B: I worked in nonprofit too, in Atlanta. I worked in the fundraising end though- typically with CEOs, so, I also worked with the mentally insane. Ha! So, ultimately, do you hope that your books are able to reach people and perhaps wake them up a bit politically/socially?
M: Well, politically, I think whether you are a Republican or Democrat, you need to wake up and smell the filibuster, because your government is no longer working for you. Obstructionism has been the trend for quite a while now. I want to push people and get them to think beyond sound bites from the news. I also think corporations have a moral obligation to pay their employees a living wage. You can’t cut social programs and not raise the minimum wage; you have to take a more humanistic point of view.
B: I absolutely agree. I’ll never understand the inability of Americans to grasp this very basic idea. I think it’s a lack of correct information, for starters. So, was your family political growing up, and if so, are they liberal as you are?
M: I didn’t have any parents; I was raised by a pack of wolves with an excellent cable package. Yes, my parents are political; they are both Democrats and they’ve voted in every election, since they were old enough to vote. I’m not kidding, everything from President to the Senate, all the way down to the municipal elections. I would say they are moderate Democrats, as opposed to the atheist, commie-pinko monster that they raised.
B: Me too. My parents were Kennedy Catholics and I went off the deep end into the lefty-left-left . Perhaps it’s the next phase in political evolution. I’m definitely a non-conformist, in any case. That’s one of the things that drew me to your account- it’s original and so bloody clever! Important question: do you identify more with the punk or the hippie movement? And if you relate to the hippies, would you be willing to take a shower?
M: It would definitely be with the punk movement, hippies are lame. I still wouldn’t be willing to take a shower though.
B: I knew you were a punk, sister. I just wanted you to have a shower. We’ve received complaints. You and I are both HUGE Kids in the Hall fans. To me, they revolutionized sketch comedy in the 90s. I thought of them as what punk rock is to mainstream music. What comedy do you think is cutting edge right now?
M: Yes, I am a huge KITH fan. I saw them over the summer in Durham, NC; they were amazing. I’m not sure about cutting edge, but I think there are a lot of smart comedies out there right now like Portlandia; that show does a great job of capturing liberal excess. I love their, “Women and Women Bookstore” sketches. Veep is good, because I imagine a lot of that stuff goes on behind the scenes in Washington. I also like Bob’s Burgers, because I can relate a lot to the character Gene. I enjoy shows with pop culture references in them, it’s low brow humor, but I like the 80’s/90’s references. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Eric Andre Show are shows like that. The Eric Andre Show gets great guests like the Iron Sheikh, Lou Ferrigno, Dolph Lundgren and one time Henry Rollins came out and did nothing but yell about frozen yogurt; I nearly collapsed.
B: Great picks. Which Kids in the Hall did you relate to most? And if you didn’t- why are you lying to me?
M: I think it would be Kevin McDonald, because he is often overlooked when people talk about The Kids in the Hall, although; I think he had some brilliant sketches. I’ve sometimes felt overlooked in my life, especially when being picked for dodge ball.
B: Do you ever panic that you’ll never come up with another funny thing to say again?
M: Yes, eventually my tweets will peak and I’ll be like a comedy cliché, where people will say, “she’s okay, but I liked her earlier work better.”
B: Rick Astley: Great singer or greatest singer?
M: He is the biggest thing to come out of England since Churchill and the Beatles.
B: That was a trick question. The correct answer was: “Who is Rick Astley?” But…back to serious things…Twitter. What about Twitter horror stories? Stalkers, @ers, trolls? Had any of those?
M: The only person who stalks me is @bourgeoisalien and I’m filing a restraining order against her, right after I throw her a surprise birthday party. I’ve had people make rude or lewd (and other things that rhyme with rude) @’s and DM’s, but for the most part, everyone has been really cool to me. I absolutely hate it though, when someone makes a serious comment to a satirical tweet. If you have to explain your jokes, then they aren’t funny anymore. I started out making jokes on Facebook, but it takes a billion dollar idea like that, to make us all realize that our families don’t have a sense of humor. My family thinks I invented sarcasm.
B: Whoa, I’ve heard about @bourgeoisalien. All I’m saying is, if she shows up at your house with a boom box over her head, don’t make eye contact…but also offer her cake. She likes cake. Alright, funny lady- who are some comedians (or comedy shows/sitcoms) who have influenced you?
M: I think Richard Pryor was raw, brutally honest, told the best stories and formulated the best characters. The same can be said for Eddie Murphy. I also liked Steven Wright, George Carlin, Dana Carvey and Janeane Garofalo. I watched comedy shows like The Kids in the Hall, MS3K, The Critic, Dr. Katz, SNL, In Living Color, The Tick and The Daily Show when Craig Kilborn was host. My favorite contemporary comedians would be Patton Oswalt, Amy Schumer, John Mulaney, Demetri Martin, Lewis Black, Sarah Silverman, John Oliver, Doug Benson, Gary Gulman and one of my very favorites, Eddie Izzard. I’ve seen him perform twice and I met him in New York. He is just as bouncy and bubbly off stage as he is on; he also wears the best shades of lipstick. If you’ve never seen his, “Star Wars Cantina” bit, you should definitely check it out. I’ve saved the best for last, which of course is Robin Williams. I don’t think there has ever been a better comedian at doing improv ever. His death was such a great loss to comedy and humanity.
B: Oh wow, yes…I remember when Robin Williams died. I was actually talking with a dear friend on twitter and I told him I couldn’t tweet for a while. I was so sad to hear of his death. He was a beautiful soul. Dead Poet’s Society was a brilliant film; I think I’ll always think of him as some sort of mentor. Let’s talk books, what’s your favorite book of all time?
M: That is so hard, because I’ve read so many great books, but I guess I would say it’s Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.
B: And what’s your favorite movie of all time?
M: This is the Sophie’s Choice of questions for me. I will give you my top five favorite directors instead, since it would be impossible for me to name one movie. My favorites are: Stanley Kubrick, Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and John Carpenter.
B: You and I are so in sync with our film choices. I want to crawl inside a Coen brother’s movie and live there. What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to get better at joke writing on Twitter?
M: Try your jokes out on unsuspecting strangers first and if they don’t call the cops or start crying, then tweet it.
B: Tell us something about yourself people on Twitter may not know.
M: I have a black belt in karate; I practiced karate and taekwondo for six years and some Jeet Kune Do. I watched a ton of Kung Fu Theater growing up and movies like Enter the Dragon, Fist of Fury and embarrassingly Gymkata and Revenge of the Ninja. I competed in the North Carolina state games several years in a row and won some gold medals. (They are not real gold; please don’t rob me) So yeah, I like to solve all my problems with my fists. Now though, I express all my rage by pointing to various Pokemon cards. My crowning achievement in life, which is sad, was getting The Legend of Kage high score, circa 1989, in the Nintendo Power Magazine, because the publication circulated in the U.S as well as Canada. I shoved it in all my friends’ faces at school like it was a degree from Harvard, while wearing my Nintendo power glove. What can I say; I know how to wield a shuriken like nobody’s business.
B: Name five tweeters (or less) whose tweets consistently make you laugh.
M: Oh my, there are so many deserving accounts. I hope I don’t offend anyone by leaving them out, but in no particular order they are: @bourgeoisalien, @ObscureGent, @Swoldemort, @TheCatWhisprer and @Chyld.
B: Since you asked me, I MUST ask you (thanks James Lipton): When you meet God- what will he say to you?
M: I thought I told you to kill James Lipton.
Be sure and check out the books, The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets and The Hall of Tweets: embracing the #twitter addiction. http://halloftweets.com/category/beyond-the-bio/
Read Beth’s blog at https://t.co/vd2FaW2382 and follow her on Twitter @bourgeoisalien
- Posted in: Interviews