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“I didn’t make a joke until I was 17 years old,” Megan Amram ’10 claims. Perhaps she was saving them up all those early years. Today she posts quite a few jokes on her Twitter feed, and more than 135,000 followers read them daily. They are often dark witticisms, the products of an entertainingly warped mind—such as, “Luckily my grandpa died of natural causes (8.4 magnitude earthquake).” Or, “I can’t believe Lou Gehrig’s parents named him after a DISEASE.” (See “Sweet Treats” for other examples.)
Amram describes herself as a former “super nerd” who discovered comedy in college. She wrote two Hasty Pudding shows (Acropolis Now and Commie Dearest) with her roommate, Alexandra Petri ’10 (now a Washington Post columnist), making them the first all-female team of Pudding playwrights. Amram also frequently performed in plays at Harvard, and moved to Los Angeles three months after graduating to break into The Industry, as it is called there. “I never had a Plan B,” she says.
For comedy writers, Twitter may be turning into a new form of job interview. Amram started tweeting jokes in the spring of 2010; some show-business people began following her and “created a lot of buzz around me, pretty randomly,” she says. She shared mutual friends with comedian and comedy writer Jordan Rubin, who asked her to write jokes for “this thing” he was doing. The “thing” turned out to be the 2011 Academy Awards telecast; Amram signed on to create quips for co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. (She had met both stars before: they had been, successively, the Pudding’s Man of the Year and Woman of the Year when Amram’s shows were staged.) It’s hard to top that start: “Forever, I will be able to say that my first job was writing for the Oscars.”
Meanwhile, Amram got a desk job assisting producers of a Disney Channel show, Ant Farm. After two weeks, her tweets struck again. The producers said they had heard she was writing for the Oscars and they had read her on Twitter, and would she like to write for Ant Farm? “Twitter is a good way to show that you’re prolific and that you can write jokes about tons of things,” she says. “It’s sort of a portfolio. Until Twitter, like, self-implodes, it’s probably going to be useful to comedy writers for the foreseeable future.”
Amram’s own foreseeable future includes writing for The Nick Show Kroll, a sketch show starring the eponymous actor and comic, set to premiere this year on Comedy Central. She continues to tweet her jokes within Twitter’s 140-character limit, especially in the morning and late afternoon, when, she says, “there are lots of people online.” She tries never to miss a day and usually tweets two or three times, including a good pun when one occurs (“I like my eggs ovariesy.”) Yet Twitter “does not prepare you for writing professionally.” she explains. “Writing for Hasty Pudding did that.”