Comedy is hard. Very hard. Not everyone can do it, me included.

Okay, so occasionally something slips through and provokes a chuckle, but generally it just doesn’t happen for most of us. (Me included, just in case you thought I was trying to be funny.)

Which brings me to parody accounts on Twitter.

One of the joys of Twitter is that there are few barriers to entry. Anyone (even machines or countries) can create accounts and be tweeting to their heart’s content about whatever they like. And that’s good. Except when the intention is be funny – and failing.

This has been a common theme on Twitter for some time. Comedy in 140 characters should be easy as it focuses the mind. But it isn’t. And here are three reasons why I think I’m right:


Shell’s Social Media Team, tweeting as @ShellisPrepared. I’ve taken issue with this campaign already, so I won’t go over it again. Unlike the BP PR feed, this has no wit or intelligence to it. Which is a shame as it could have been witty and clever. Now it’s a parody of itself, constantly pretending that people care. They don’t. The follower count has been dropping for days.

We’re Jamming (Not)

Accounts that parody items you’ll find in everyday life can also work well. They can, with the right person behind them, tap into the universal truths about both how people view them and how they might act if they were a human and not a piece of furniture or machinery. Printers in offices, for examples. Except this one, @HP_LaserJet, attempting to make people laugh with bon mots about an HP LaserJet. One paper jam, repeated ad nauseum, doth not a witty social media account make.

Sit Down (But Shut Up)

Which brings me to the final one proving that being funny is harder than it looks: @OlympicSeat. This has so much potential. Except whoever is running it hasn’t got the ideas to make it work – at least not yet. They could be talking about who might sit on them, comment on what’s happening (from its supposed unobstructed view, for example), perhaps even comment on the McDonald’s ad that appears to be wittier than this parody. Anything. A day old and already running out of steam. How long before the (current) 13,000 followers dwindle?

Is it actually poor writing and a lack of wit that lets these accounts down? I think not. It appears to be that someone wanted to get in first, created the account within minutes of having the idea and then didn’t think about what would happen if lots of people followed them, or what strategy they should employ to keep the joke going.

And there it is, the reason why it’s not working: no strategy there. Just a simple and initially hilarious idea. Yet no thoughts about how it could play out.