There’s three terrible things that can happen on a message board. 1) Someone starts a thread about tipping. 2) Someone posts their suicide note. 3) Someone starts arguing about the perceived superiority of British comedy over that from America. He may then post some quotes from The IT Crowd to prove his point.
There’s an egotistical complex that a lot of Brits have over their comedy, which… I’m not saying it’s unearned, but I am saying that for every Porridge this country has produced, there’s been at least 50 Russell Howard projects. Britain isn’t a country that has a great history of physical comedy like the French, or satirical literature like Spain, or stand-up comedy like America. What it does have, however, is the pun. An institution as English as knowing that it’s spelled “Daddies Ketchup” rather than “Daddy’s Ketchup”.
@ThePoke isn’t the place where the pun goes to die, per se. It’s the place where the pun gets some sort of viral infection and stumbles through your nightmares semi-alive, bits of flesh dangling off its bones as it goes “50 Daves of Grey. 50 Shades of Gay. 50 Cents of Grey. 50 Shades of TOWIE, does that work?”
Every morning, @ThePoke sends up the clarion call to its 60,000 followers and beckons them to come forward with examples of “film titles altered to be about Julian Assange”, “sitcom titles altered to be a bit highbrow” or “band names altered to be about dirt”. And the Trending Topic lists in London falls like Saigon, as bored office workers who fancy themselves as a bit of a wit rush forward to type “Poo Order! Two Pints of Lachner and a Packet of Crisps! The Cook The Thief His Wife And An Australian Rapist!” in order to add some meaning to their lives.
That’s not all @ThePoke does, though. It sees itself as somewhat of a “front page of the internet” deal, so you get exactly the same content Buzzfeed, Reddit et al have: their current frontpage features, without a trace of irony, “150 Hilarious Summer Pictures” and “46 Perfectly Timed Photographs”. Sure can’t wait to see that beer glass breaking on impact and Obama staring at that girl’s arse again!
What else does @ThePoke actually give the world? Jokes copied from other people’s accounts? Links copied from other people’s accounts? Photos copied from other people’s accounts? Their original material looks like this: “CAPTURING LION….. ███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE. Capture Failed. 404 Error: Lion Not Found.” I think this is a big problem with Twitter, which is that it allows people to follow what looks like a gag on paper, ticks all the boxes for being a gag… but doesn’t actually have any jokes in it. Like a madlib that someone has filled in perfectly sensibly.
Shall I tell you what @ThePoke actually is? It’s an online version of those phone-ins you get on BBC local radio at about 10:30am, where some guy called “Bernie” asks you for “your daft suggestions for what we should put on the statue in Lincoln town square”. Now here’s a funny parody of “Call Me Maybe”. It’s about “50 Shades of Grey”! Essex Lion! Am I viral yet?
“INSTALLING SUMMER.. ███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE Installation failed. Please try again. 404 error: Season not found.”
“in case you missed it > the GREATEST VIDEO on the entire internet today http://t.co/qqGqyJbN #benton”
“Essex Police Statement: “We can now confirm that what residents heard was Brian Blessed recording a voice over” #essexlion”