If you’ve ever guffawed at a tweet from the hilarious, mansplaining @GuyInYourMFA parody account, or chuckled at one of @DystopianYA Novel’s over-the-top observations, then you have Schwartz to thank for that. When she’s not crafting award-winning tweets, Schwartz works at The New Yorker as a cartoon assistant and at Mental Floss as a staff writer.
If you’ve ever guffawed at a tweet from the hilarious, mansplaining Guy In Your MFA parody account, or chuckled at one of Dystopian YA Novel’s over-the-top observations, then you have Schwartz to thank for that. When she’s not crafting award-winning tweets, Schwartz works at The New Yorker as a cartoon assistant and at Mental Floss as a staff writer.
When did you first begin doing writing/humor writing? Was it something you consciously pursued or just kind of fell into?
I had been writing stories since before I could actually write–I dictated a story to my mom about three little ducklings who got lost and illustrated it with markers. But I was actually pre-med in college. I never actually thought I was funny; I could joke around with my friends and I had fun on Twitter, but I never thought it was something I would be able to do for a living. I started the @GuyInYourMFA account my senior of college year, just a last-ditch attempt to distract myself from the impending terror of studying for my MCATs. Amazingly, it seemed to catch on. It seemed more and more like I’d actually be able to spend my life writing instead of seeing writing as a hobby to do on the side for myself.
Using social media as a platform for parody accounts/jokes is still a fairly new field! What does it feel like to be something of a pioneer in that sense?
I’m just impatient, and I love the immediate gratification that can come from putting something out in the world as soon as I think of the idea. I think the idea of @GuyInYourMFA really lent itself to social media–even if the Guy might think himself too cool for a Twitter account, those sort of ideas and mundane pseudo-profound observations work well in small self-contained units.
Did you expect the accounts to take off like they did? Which one is your favorite/or is your personal Twitter your favorite?
Not at all. It was incredibly gratifying because for a very long time, I assumed anything I made artistically would be just sent into the void and then ignored. There’s something really empowering about thinking that something a college senior made in her dorm bed at 2 AM can be seen by some of the coolest people in the world. And @DystopianYA is fun, and definitely a loving parody because I’ve read (and still read) a ton of dystopian YA books, but @GuyInYourMFA was my first and so I love it the most. I’m going to be a terrible mother.
Do you pre-write tweets and have them stashed for days, or do they come to you in the moment?
Always in the moment. I don’t have the patience to plan anything related to Twitter more than two seconds in advance. That’s probably why I’ll go a few weeks without tweeting, and then tweet four times in one hour; it’s just whenever I’m thinking of it.
Tell me about working with the The New Yorker on cartoons? That’s a pretty big hallmark in the world of a comedy.
I’m just an assistant, but it’s really cool to see the process come together. My dad always had a subscription to The New Yorker, and I loved flipping through it, from cartoon to cartoon. When the Caption Contest began, my dad and I challenged each other to come up with ideas. Both of us were equally terrible; one of his answers from the earliest cartoon was so awful we still tease him about it. I could recite it verbatim. It definitely feels like a dream to get to see all of the cartoons as they come in and prep them for the magazine. Reading the submissions has also been an education in persistence.
Do you also do stand up comedy or see yourself pursuing that aspect of the business?
I don’t really see myself as a stand up, but I do perform occasionally if a friend is hosting a show. I’ve never been much of a performer. Improv is a special form of magic to me. I think I’m the only woman in the world who gets turned on by a guy who’s really good at improv. That’s my number one turn-on. Zach Woods is my celebrity crush. I constantly want to make and do new things, but it takes an incredible amount of work it to become a successful standup. Right now, I’m focusing my energy on other things.
You just finished a book, can you talk a bit about that?
Yes! It’s a YA novel, and it’s not dystopian. Just a very, very fictional account of the traveling I did around Europe after I graduated in May. Hopefully it’s funny, and people relate to it. I really tried to touch on just how miserable it can be when you’re 17, and you feel like you understand how you want to live your life but you’re still stuck for the next few years pursuing a traditional path.
What are you plans or hopes for the future and coming year?
Oh god. I want to become famous enough that my crush from middle school feels bad about never making out with me.
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