Here is a link to the interview on Kate Hall’s site:
Beyond the Bio: Interview with @bourgeoisalien
I’ve got the delightful and very funny @bourgeoisalien in the Beyond the Bio HoT seat today. If you don’t follow Beth, you need to. She’s super creative and hilarious – a must follow. Check her out!
Name: Elizabeth Argyropoulos ( I married a Greek for the hilarious last name, obviously)
Living in: Florida- I assume I lost most of my followers right there…
Graduated high school: 90s, we’ll leave it at that…
Number of followers: 26k, most of who I assume are part of my knitting circle. Also? I don’t knit.
Joined Twitter: A little over a year ago.
Tell us about your family.
Married to a hilarious Greek, who is truly nuts and always makes me laugh; and our 11-year-old son, who is the coolest kid I know. And by “cool” I mean a hysterical little nerd, like me.
What do you do when you’re not on Twitter?
Besides the countless hours I spend wondering who I’ve accidentally offended, and the 17 hours a day it takes to run a family/home? I write, travel, read, I love to cook, I tend to throw a lot of dinner parties, er….what else…play with my cats (I can’t lie, I love my cats), and spend a good deal of time hiking (like meditation for me). I tried traditional meditation once – I wound up laughing and was asked to leave (true story.)
Do you have a favorite cuisine?
I teach Greek cooking. I was lucky enough to live in Greece for years and learned traditional dishes from my husband’s aunts and extended family- amazing women. They are in their 80s and still picking olives and working 14 hours a day! Puts us all to shame. In addition to spanikopita and more well-known Greek dishes, I learned to cook stuffed zucchini flowers, kleftiko, and bougatsa to name a few. Last year we were going to open a restaurant – but I’d like to get my son to college before I undertake that! Only eight more years…OK, now I’m just overwhelmed….HA!
Oh wow, I want to come when it opens. I love Greek food.
You also said you write when you’re not on Twitter. Have you shared your writing anywhere publicly?
I am just now starting a blog – bethargyropoulos.wordpress.com (Because YOU really want to read another blog…amiright??) Also, I just sent a submission to Huff Post- but I know nothing at this point. I’ve always written, but quite honestly, I’ve been too afraid to share. I know, “Man, up, Beth!” My feminist friends hate that phrase. But I’m going to leave it here just to be controversial and hopefully get my first hate mail.
My friends have told me for years (and I told myself) to get back into comedy – but beyond that, it’s a creative outlet for the insanity that comes into my head repeatedly over the course of a day.
Why do you tweet? What do you get out of it?
That’s a great question. I think it’s honestly because I’ve always wanted to do stand up, but still have not. Maybe one day, but I’m gonna need a lot of courage (booze)….gulp….
A little bird (@TheCatWhisprer) told me that you’ve done improv before. Where did you do it? How was the experience?
I did it in Chicago. And while it was wonderful, it didn’t feel like a good fit for me at the time. It’s also a question of luck, I think. At that time I didn’t seem to find “my people” but honestly, if I stayed longer, I probably would have. I partially think I was too scared of failure to stay and give it 100%. Although my Second City teacher told me I was afraid of success. In either case, it was a wonderful experience. But if I ever do comedy again, it would be either stand up or a one-woman show. I seem to feel better having a script. And honestly, I enjoy watching a scripted show or standup more than improv as well. Just a style preference I suppose.
You have a broad range of topics you tweet about. Where do you get all your ideas?
I’ve been as lucky in my life as I’ve been unlucky. I’ve lived all over the world, am surrounded in my real life by hilarious, creative people, and I consistently seem to attract creative, malcontents like myself. From a young age I felt that I didn’t fit in anywhere, and there’s this part of me that’s removed. That’s not always a good thing, but it seems to lend this quality to my life, as if I’m a sociologist or a zoologist, standing back, simply commenting on the bizarre animal behavior I’m surrounded by. I see so much hypocrisy, jealousy, misplaced rage that I am acutely aware of in others, and the only thing I can do is write about it, or tweet about it. Also, sometimes weird tweets just pop into my head. Sort of comedy schizophrenia, I suppose. I’m just a weird person. What can I say?
You said you never felt like you really fit in, but obviously you had to make some people laugh if you always wanted to do standup. Who did you make laugh over the years?
Oh, the usual, my friends. I did theater for years and had a comedy troupe here in Florida before I moved to Chicago. But my circle of friends, even now, are painfully funny. I don’t need to do sit ups (shut up, it’s a lie I choose to believe) because I laugh so hard my abs hurt after spending time with my peeps.
When you started out on Twitter, how did you go about getting exposure? Did you do a lot of retweeting in the hopes that people would reciprocate, or did you follow a lot of people? Or was it something else?
I did all of that. And I don’t recommend it. I hate that there is this numbers game on Twitter. I mean, I get it. Sometimes a tweet takes off, and that’s great. But as in everything I respond to – punk music, alternative comedy, indie movies – what is sometimes great is not the most popular thing (in my opinion, anyway). So, yes, I did all of that, and what I should have been doing is just work on hysterical tweets, write what is real to me, and forget about 1,000 retweets.
The problem is, once you get a certain number of followers, you can’t retweet like you used to, and people get hurt – and I hate that.
I always want to reciprocate. If you bring me a plate of food, I’ll show up at your house the next day with a cake! So, what I mean is, I realize that when you get to say 10k you can’t even see everyone that’s retweeted you- it’s too much to sift through. I used to try and retweet everyone that retweeted me to be nice. I just don’t have the time. And there are so many really funny accounts that I probably miss.
Now I just retweet what really makes me laugh. I had a few friends stop retweeting me when they got larger and it sort of stung. But I get it, Twitter eats too much time, and you have to scale back.
Of course – it’s not so much a “dry spell” as it is stress from life. What I mean is, if something happens, and it’s overwhelming, I can’t be funny. But, most of the time, a few days later, I satirize myself for being such a sad-sack.
This happens to me too. I often create my own stress though. I pile too much work on myself and then I get stressed and I can’t be creative because all I can think about is all the crap I have to do. Gah!
Everybody has tweets that bomb, what goes through your mind if/when one of your tweets bombs?
Two things: I wrote it poorly, examine why it failed and make a mental note, and secondly, if I really like the tweet, it just may not be a relatable experience to most people. I mean, I’m a weirdo, I don’t expect to be everyone’s favorite tweeter, but those that get me, seem to really get me, and that’s perfect. I need to be honest, to be real, and I seek that in others. It can be heavy, I know…but what can I do? It’s who I am. Don’t get me wrong…I can also find many mainstream tweets really hilarious!
Have you interacted with any celebrities on Twitter?
Yes. I was very lucky to speak with John Hodgman and Kumail Nanjiani early on – I find both of them absolutely hysterical. But what has been an absolute comedy dream come true has been speaking with Bruce McCulloch. “Kids in the Hall” was one of my primary inspirations for moving to Chicago to do improv at Second City. They were the “punk” comedy troupe that I finally connected with and aspired to be as good as in my preforming. So, when Bruce contacted me I thought I was going to pass out and have a comedy aneurism! “My Pen My Pen!!” (Kids in the Hall reference) And he has been a – I don’t know if this sounds too sappy?- but a mentor and friend. It’s absolutely brilliant when you get to know someone you’ve admired for years and they turn out to be kind, decent, and someone who sincerely cares about other creative people.
If you could meet anyone in person from Twitter who would it be and why?
Bruce McCulloch, obviously! (sorry, Bruce) and only one reason- to write something with him (hey, I can dream, jerks). That would be maybe the best thing ever…I have an idea for a sitcom about D&D/Magic/board game, game store nerds that I’ve been too shy to tell him about. I absolutely hate “Big Bang Theory” but I sincerely believe a comedy about game store nerds (my best friend owns a game store) done more like the brilliant “Arrested Development” would be fantastic. So if I met him, I could just casually slip it into conversation between talking about our favorite punk bands (obviously) and not in some awkward email or phone call; and he could then say, “No, I don’t like that idea.” Yipee!
I got really angry when Men’s Humor stole my tweet. And in retrospect, I think it had more to do with the fact that that account represents everything I hate about crap comedy. They are anti-comedy. Misogynist, unoriginal, and trying to garner fame for the sake of fame rather than putting out creative, original ideas into the world. I get stolen from all the time, there’s nothing I can do. I sort of don’t care anymore about it. But that being said, I also think it happens far too often that someone has a similar idea and is falsely accused. Frankly, I think it boils down to how someone responds when they are asked about it. If they’re rude and refuse to take the tweet down, truly, that’s all you need to know.
Question from @SoulYodeler: Your sense of humor reminds me of Carol Burnett. Were you a fan of hers growing up?
Absolutely!! There was nothing I liked better than watching her show afterschool in reruns. She is a genius, no question. I also loved Monty Python and The Young Ones as a kid. I wanted to be British!
Who are some other comedians (or comedy shows/sitcoms) who have influenced you?
Well, the ones I’ve already mentioned, Kids in the Hall being at the top of my list, but there are so many over the years. Ricky Gervais (Extras, in particular) Steve Martin, Woody Allen, Christopher Guest, Jennifer Saunders, David Sedaris, Demetri Martin…more recently Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, Sarah Silverman, Portlandia, South Park, Louis CK…most recently… Hari Kondabolu, Kyle Kinane, and I would be a liar if I didn’t mention that Stephen Colbert alone got me through the Bush years and I love him dearly for that. I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton….
What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to get better at joke writing on Twitter?
Speak from your own point of view. Develop your own style, and don’t be afraid of a tweet bombing- it happens, so what? Stay away from the same tired jokes- yoga pants, vodka, ending tweets in “that.” We’re all guilty of it, but try and find new things to write about. I find myself writing too much about my cats. But in my defense, they are really stupid.
Oh boy. Here we go. I came from a home that had more than its fair share of pain. I had three siblings that died while I was young and my father sort of collapsed in many ways under the stress. My mom was amazing, loving and kind to a fault, but my father sort of emotionally abandoned us. I saw them suffer greatly from a young age and while it was horrible, it has instilled a sense of empathy that is unshakable. So, if you sense that there’s some heart there in my tweets, I can only say that it comes from both pain and the deep love of my family growing up. That being said, I am happier at this point in my life than I’ve ever been, and if my tweets seem sad at times, it’s more of a passing thing, not a permanent feeling.
I’m so sorry to hear about your siblings. Do you mind saying how they died?
They had Angelman syndrome (this was before they even know what that was – Dr. Angelman even came to Florida from England to study the genetics of my family). I was the youngest- and an accident quite frankly. My parents were good Catholics and after the sixth child, they decided to stop. I was number seven. My mother was thrilled though – she finally got a child that she could communicate with. My sisters and brother were severely handicapped, and it was the 70s – they didn’t know what to do with them at the home they were put in in Miami. Two of my siblings died of a hospital-prescribed drug overdose, and my brother, Chris, was left unsupervised and died from an accident in the home in Miami.
Oh wow, I’d never heard of Angelman Syndrome before. That’s absolutely tragic. Have they made any headway in how to understand and help people that have this syndrome?
Yes. It’s similar, genetically speaking, to Down’s Syndrome. It’s a deletion/inactive in regards to the 15th chromosome. They actually tested my brother (Mike) and me to see if we were carriers. We are not- my mother was the carrier, inherited from her father. It’s quite rare in contrast to Down’s syndrome. Interestingly, the actor, Colin Farrel’s son has Angelman’s syndrome, so it seems it’s getting some main stream exposure. Here is a link: http://celebritybabies.people.com/2014/02/12/colin-farrell-angelman-syndrome-winters-tale-premiere/
Tell us something about yourself people on Twitter may not know.
I worked for years in non-profit raising money to feed the homeless, care for abused women and animal welfare. I actually organized and successfully saved the lives of many dogs while I lived in Greece before the Olympic Games in 2004. They were going to kill them, the city of Athens, so I started petitions, contacted people in northern Europe and spent months driving dogs to the airport in Greece to be adopted by people in Holland, England, and France. I’m a vegetarian and I love animals- seeing an animal suffer is more than I can bear.
Wow! You sound like a real “do-er,” someone who likes action rather than the talk. Is that true?
I’m both. In terms of helping others, I’m right there. I volunteer quite a bit. I ran the entire Obama campaign in my area when I came back from living in Europe. I was so tired of hearing, “stupid American” and “Americans and their buffoon President” that I vowed to not be a spectator in our democracy. So, in many ways, yes. But I can be overly sensitive and it’s taken me this long to finally start showing my writing to people. I clearly have a fear of rejection. But, it’s cool. At least I’m not a Scientologist….yes, I realize those things are unrelated, but still…
Haha! Is there anything else you’d like to say/share?
Anyone wanna come over for an erotic Tupperware party? NO? Well, fine…
Name five tweeters (or less) whose tweets consistently make you laugh.
UGH! There are too many, KATE! Can I say to look at my “No Sleep till Brooklyn” list? How about this? I’ll mention 5 tweeters who I think need more recognition/followers that haven’t been interviewed yet: @gobmentcheese, @TheWoodenslurpy,@SuperRandomish, @megankcomedy, @ObscureGent.
Next up on Beyond the Bio: @WorkingMom86.
In case you missed it, last time on Beyond the Bio: @lloydrang.