Halfway through 2010, Twitter boasted 190 million users accessing its website on a monthly basis, users that tweeted a total of 65 million times a day. That’s a lot of tweeting! Like just about everything else on the Internet, Twitter is filled with a lot of nonsense. Vapid, pointless, navel-gazing nonsense that will make your humblecorrespondents apoplectic with rage if we don’t go ahead and cut off this sentence right now. Phew. Breathe.
But! Twitter also has tons of great users. Users that will make you laugh and inform you with their interesting tweets. We’ve rounded up 25 of what we think are the best from 2010. All of the tweeps below either started tweeting or came into Twitter prominence during the past calendar year. And to drive the point home, we’ve included a gallery that showcases three tweets from each user on the list. Start following these folks now:
Unlike most fake celebrity Twitter accounts, the now-defunct BobDylanSays adhered strictly to things Dylan actually wrote—namely, his songs. The account’s ambitious goal was to tweet every Dylan ditty in existence, one line at a time. Since it’s highly unlikely that a demigod like good old Robert Zimmerman could ever be bothered to join Twitter, BobDylanSays is the next best thing for Dylan diehards. Some of the lines actually stand alone on their own pretty well, sometimes to hilarious effect (“It’s chicken.”). Maybe if Dylan puts out a new album soon it’ll wake up this account. —Bonnie Stiernberg
If you’re ever feeling low, just do what we do: Pull up Diddy’s Twitter page and read his daily Diddy devotionals, all-caps nuggets declaring that God loves us and we have to make every day count, and other such inspiring fodder, followed by exclamation points en masse. Whether you believe in it, chuckle ironically or fall somewhere in between, you will come away from it feeling better about life.
23. Drunk Hulk
THERE SOMETHING ABOUT SOMEONE PRETENDING TO BE INEBRIATED CARTOON CHARACTER ON INTERNET MAKE US VERY HAPPY TO BE ALIVE IN INTERESTING CULTURAL TIME. HERE TO YOU, DRUNK HULK!
“Funny and/or interesting” is an apt bio for this anonymous user who tweets and pokes fun of the day’s headlines, from sports to television to politics, and just about everything in between.
21. James Urbaniak
The Venture Bros. actor is almost always involved in some kind of conversation on his Twitter feed, often with other hilarious folks such as Sara Benincasa (see below), Paul F. Tompkins and Rob Delaney. Urbaniak’s Twitter is a harmonious melding of sarcasm, satire and left-field pop-culture references (i.e.: participating in the hashtag #jonathanlipnickileaks).
20. Sara Benincasa
Whether she’s taking on national politics or live-tweeting a competition show featuring college a cappella groups (On Yale’s Whiffenpoofs: “I want to shoot their heads off, zombie-style.”), comedian and writer Benincasa is biting, profane and wildly funny. She’ll make you uncomfortable sometimes, and she’ll make you think quite a bit, but above all, she will make you laugh.
You never forget your first (celebrity Twitter, that is). The Roots’ drummer has been tweeting since the early days of the site and remains as prolific as ever. Although Questo is mostly-business now, with tweets predominantly dealing with his work with The Roots and with his gig on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, he’s always engaging with fans and expressing his passion for the music.
18. Patton Oswalt
You can bet any time one of our favorite working comedians joins Twitter, we’ll be one of the first to follow him. Oswalt did just that this year, and we’re thankful. After all, his star is rising, and with that will inevitably come less stand-up shows. Luckily, his Twitter feed is like a miniature version of his act, with us everywhere we go.
17. Pete Cashmore
Scottish social-media maven and founder of industry blog, Mashable, Pete Cashmore is one of Twitter’s most influential figures, an implicit must-follow for anyone in the communication fields. From links to interesting social-media studies to getting professionals and social-media junkies alike together for events like 2010’s Social Media Day, Cashmore’s page is a hub for the like-minded to meet, discuss and create something beautiful together.
16. Alec Sulkin
If you’ve laughed at Family Guy in the last five years, there’s a good chance you’ve already enjoyed Alec Sulkin’s work. As a producer and writer, Sulkin has also contributed to The Cleveland Show and The Late Show With Craig Ferguson, and is working on a new, possibly-live-action show with his writing partner. His tweets are tiny, awesome bursts of observational/absurdist humor.
15. Anis Mojgani
Iranian-American spoken word poet Anis Mojgani is the perfect Twitterer to turn to when in need of 140-character-or-less inspiration. Not only is his page a great resource for finding out where his next gig with the Night Kite Revival Tour (which we’ve written about before) is, but he also offers dreamlike, eloquent strands of verse, perfect in between reading about what your social-media strategy is supposed to be or the really rad sandwich your old-school chum is eating.
14. Nick Kristof
Long after the cause-célebres of the developing world (Darfur, Haiti) have stopped making headlines, The New York Times’ resident voice of global conscience is there, providing snapshots of his many travels (the tweets from his recent trip to cholera-stricken Haiti are brief, but gripping), reminding us that just because the celebrity telethons are gone doesn’t mean we should stop caring about those around the world who struggle with disease and disaster. Maybe the Revolution Will be Tweeted after all.
13. Erykah Badu
It’s openness and accessibility that make Erykah Badu’s Twitter particularly captivating. Her tweets are often very immersive: About two years ago, she and then-partner Jay Electronica both live-tweeted the home birth of their child. She often responds to and retweets fans, answering them with a frequency and candor one would be hard-pressed to find in any medium.
12. Colin Meloy
We’ve written about the Decemberists’ frontman’s Twitter before, but he merits a second mention. He’s as literary as one might expect, often mentioning what he’s reading at the time, and is a great source for recommendations for new artists (recently name-dropped: Wye Oak and The Besnard Lakes). Plus, he’s really good at keeping fans updated on Decemberists-related news, and with that new album they have coming out in January, it’s an easy way to keep your ear/smartphone to the ground.
11. Fake AP Stylebook
Ken Lowery and Mark Hale didn’t start their Twitter account with the intention of getting a book deal. “It was just amusing ourselves,” Lowery told Paste early this year. But when the account found 1,000 followers in its first day, “we knew something special was going on and we didn’t want to blow it.”
10. Steve Martin
We were really excited when we found Steve Martin’s Twitter page over the summer, and he delivers. The man who found fame with quick one-liners and catchphrases on shows like Saturday Night Live (“Two wild and crazy guys!”) fills his Twitter with wit in less than 140 characters, a veteran comedian’s eye for punchlines in a 21st-century setting. “A watched iPhone never syncs,” he writes. And boy, do we know it.
9. Tim Siedell
Tim Siedell, the creative director of a brand communications studio in Nebraska, hears from some impressively high-profile folks thanks to his Twitter account. “I get weird responses from famous people,” he told Paste in May. “I’ve had a prominent director reach out to me and want a screenplay. There’s a big thing in the works that I can’t talk about that involves a few famous people who also reached out to me.” We’re looking forward to it, but in the meantime, we’ve got his new book to keep us busy.
8. Chris Weingarten
Certainly the only member of this list with a commemorative box set of his tweets, Chris Weingarten logged 1,000 album reviews on his Twitter account in 2009. Although he won’t reach that many reviews this year (he’s in the low 400s as we write this), his refreshing, unfiltered criticism is one of the reasons Twitter is so great when done right. Come for the encyclopedic music knowledge, stay for the angry-guy outbursts. Both are worth reading.
7. John Moe
He’s a public-radio host by day, a regular contributor to McSweeney’s and author of the book Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky. But on Twitter, he’s a veritable font of hashtags, and his regularly retweeting of basketball player Chris Taft brings an absurdist humor to his feed. May he live long and continue to innovate within the 140-character form.
6. Kelly Oxford
A year ago, we had this to say about hilarious housewife Kelly Oxford: ”[She] uses her Twitter account as a vessel to pontificate on all sorts of stuff, including but not limited to celebrity culture, race and her precocious children. Someone get this gal a book deal.” She’s blown up in 2010, sharpening her already-on-point tweets, and has myriad projects in the works because of it. Something tells us her name will be known for much more than Twitter soon enough.
Paste spoke with the anonymous person who encapsulates an entire artist discography with each tweet in July, and they only added to their mystique: “I’m definitely not a robot. I’m not a musician, but I’ve been in and around the music business since the ‘90s. If you’re the sort of person who likes to read album credits, my name might be familiar. And I’ve been on TV and on the radio, so some people know me from that, too. I spend an inordinate amount of time talking and pondering and analyzing and arguing about music. And I’m someone who—for professional reasons, and not just for fun (even though it’s almost always fun)—has listened to a vast amount of music and acquired a fair amount of knowledge about it. I live in one of the two cities in the United States in which you’d probably expect me to live. And that’s all I’m going to tell you.”
4. Shit My Dad Says
When Paste spoke with Shit My Dad Says creator Justin Halpern in late 2009, it seemed his Twitter feed had hit its critical mass at 700,000 followers. Since then, Halpern’s followers have nearly tripled, and a book and television show have spun off of his father’s quotable tweets. “I’m the luckiest motherfucker in the world,” Halpern says. “I often think if it wasn’t me in this situation, I would probably hate me. ‘What, they gave this asshole a TV show from 70 tweets?’ The best I can hope for is to write a really good show so people don’t feel this opportunity was wasted on some dipshit.”
3. BP Global PR
The BP oil spill in the Gulf was one of the darkest moments of 2010, bringing with it environmental repercussions that we will be dealing with for a long time to come. But one oil-slicked sort-of silver lining came in the form of a Twitter account lampooning BP’s public relations department. For giving us a laugh and holding those responsible for the disaster accountable at the same time, @BPGlobalPR, we salute you. We didn’t need all those pelicans anyway.
2. Roger Ebert
Prolific, curmudgeonly, unflinching in one’s convictions—these are all the makings of a great critic, and appropriately enough, Roger Ebert’s Twitter feed is all three. From film and television to politics and taking down the usual stable of pundits to just sharing some interesting links, Ebert’s tweets are varied, fiercely opinionated and always fun to follow. If all figures from the “old guard” of entertainment media become as savvy and successful with social media as Ebert, imagine what incredible conversations would take place.
1. Kanye West
From the day it first appeared, Yeezy’s Twitter has been a never-ending source of wonder and magic in 140 characters or less. With moments of introspection and celebrations of extravagance (dude turned #goblets into a hashtag), it was a perfect complement to the character study of delusion and grandeur that was his 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. His feed is the gold standard by which all future celebrity twitterers will be judged. Bonus points to the myriad spin-off Twitter accounts created in the months that followed—especially our favorites, #kanyenewyorkertweets, budgetkanyewest and kanyejordan, the latter of which basically consisted of someone putting “Liz Lemon” in front of Yeezy’s actual tweets. Brilliant.