Interview: Comedian Dan Duvall, ‘lazerdoov,’ talks Funny Tweets

Comedian Dan Duvall, @lazerdoov on Twitter, who starred in and co-produced the newly-released documentary Funny Tweets, recently shared about his journey making the film and how Twitter has launched his career in the show business.

We recently interviewed the director of Funny Tweets, Laurie (Lawrence) McGuinness, and were ecstatic that Dan Duvall was kind enough to share his story with us as well — a story about how Twitter offered him a life beyond his wildest dreams.

Dan Duvall, known to Twitter as ‘@lazerdoov,’ is a guy who has an amazing talent — the talent to make people die laughing. He is a TV writer and standup comedian who has built an entire life for himself out of his Twitter popularity.

He posts, and people like it. Simple as that.

Get the picture?

In the documentary Funny Tweets, he joins writers for The Simpsons, Modern Family, Family Guy, and others who share how Twitter has impacted their lives, and in some instances, has literally birthed their careers in Hollywood and beyond.

Here’s what Dan Duvall had to say about making Funny Tweets and his journey in comedy.

Funny Tweets, starring Dan Duvall, Danny Zuker, Amber Tozer, Matt Selman, Alec Sulkin, Dani Fernandez, Damien Fahey, and others, is out now.

Commyounicate interviewer – Ryan Mekkes: So what was it like for you putting Funny Tweets together, man?

Dan Duvall: It was kind of crazy because it just sort of happened. I mean it just went from like zero to a hundred. I don’t know if you know the story of how Laurie found me and whatnot?

Mekkes: Yeah, he said he texted you or he messaged you and he was a fan and you were cool and hit him back and the rest is history type of thing?

Duvall: Yeah, he @ replied me on Twitter because at the time I didn’t have open dms because that was not an option. So he @ replied me and then I responded. He just said something like, hey, I want to interview you. Follow me back. So we arranged a time and he showed up at my door. I had no idea what to expect. He didn’t even know what he was doing or why he wanted to interview me. He just wanted to talk about joke Twitter, which was an interesting thing and still is an interesting thing because there’s like thousands of funny people just giving out free content on Twitter. And especially then, it was really hot then back in like 2011/2012 before it was kind of over-saturated.

And so he showed up and I told him my whole story because my story, I guess, is a little bit interesting because Twitter changed my whole life. So I told him my story, and I’d never really said it out loud before. And when we wrapped up, we both just kind of sat there like, huh. And he was like, this is a crazy story, man. This, IS the story. And I said, oh, well there’s lots of other people doing what I’m doing, you know? And he said, well, where are they? And I said, well I know a lot of them in Los Angeles because I’d been going back and forth between there and here for a long time at that point. And he was like, well, all right, tell me who they are. So I gave him a list or whatever, and then he said he was gonna get us tickets to LA — and I didn’t know he meant for me as well. And then he just called me up and he’s like, hey I got us some flights to LA. And he’s like, you’re coming with me.

And I’m like, oh, I’m going too? Okay! That’s crazy. So he took me to Los Angeles with him and I ended up facilitating all these interviews and making us a schedule and everything. And yeah! We kind of got into a partnership that way. And so I’ve basically just been his bridge into this other world. It never occurred to me that I would even be capable of doing that until I met him. It just never really occurred to me that I actually have a pretty crazy list of contacts — of people that I can reach out to. And it’s been a really wild experience sort of coming to know that and just seeing how amazingly helpful everyone’s been and how eager they’ve been to be involved in the project. It’s been really cool.

Mekkes: Yeah, that is really cool.

Duvall: Yeah. So we went down to LA and we interviewed Andy Richter and Rob Fee and Matt Shirley and Elijah Daniel. It was super fun; it was an absolute blast. And then we ended up going back a second time and interviewing some of the other people like Matt Selman and Damien Fahey and Alec Sulkin — those guys all agreed to help us out.

Mekkes: I mean, man — those are some heavy hitters. And so are you!

Duvall: I just thought it was really cool that these people followed me on Twitter. And then until I met Laurie, it didn’t occur to me just how interesting it is that my life has gone this way. I didn’t really realize it until after the fact.

Mekkes: Wow, so Funny Tweets kind of connected all the dots for you, sort of? In a way? Is that fair to say?

Duvall: Yeah, it definitely connected some dots, for sure.

Mekkes: Like everything was there, but this project put it all together in a way?

Duvall: Yeah, exactly. It’s made me more eager and more confident to reach out to people — to try to get in touch and [connect with others in the industry].

Mekkes: That’s awesome.

Duvall: Laurie just contacting me, and doing this whole process with him, has definitely inspired me to do more with my life. It’s cool. There’s a lot more going on in my life now; my life looks totally different even from when we started doing that documentary.

Mekkes: How has your life changed since then? 

Duvall: I quit my pharmacy job entirely; I don’t do that at all anymore. I do standup comedy full-time and I do some producing. I run three comedy rooms here in Victoria. And yeah, I’m also producing a couple pilots, a couple projects for television that we’re working on. And other than that, I’ve just been working for myself. I don’t have to report to a pharmacy to work every day anymore. (laughs) I always wanted to do standup comedy. That’s what I always wanted to do, and it’s working out.

Mekkes: That’s so cool. So to me, standup comedy just seems terrifying, right?

Duvall: Right, yeah — it’s not not terrifying.

Mekkes: What drew you to it?

Duvall: So I used to do standup comedy — I tried it for the first time, I don’t know, I want to say it was like four years ago-ish, like way after I started writing tweets. I did it, but I didn’t do it very often. I did it once a month maybe. And quite frankly, I’ll just be honest with you, I had a pretty serious drinking and drug addiction at that point. I was drinking. I was drinking a lot. And I never really improved; I did stand up a lot, but I never improved and I didn’t do it enough. I feel like you got to be doing it at least a minimum of three times a week to get any better at it. And in the last year, I got sober. So I’ve been sober for over a year now.

Mekkes: Congratulations.

Duvall: I suddenly have a lot more energy. And quite frankly, I just needed something to do. And I was like, ya know, I think I want to try doing stand up again. Because so many things felt different once I sort of shook off a lot of that dead weight I was carrying around with the boozing and whatnot. And I just wanted to try it again. And I did! and I loved it! So here’s the story of how I got back into it. It’s actually a pretty funny story if you want to hear it.

Mekkes: Sure! Yeah.

Duvall:  So I hadn’t been doing it at all, and then I went out to an open mic and I did a three-minute set. And the comedian who had been doing the weekend shows at some clubs here in Victoria, Matt Billon — he’s a Canadian guy who lives in LA now — he was the headliner at the club Hecklers that weekend. So him and this other guy, Hormos Rashidi — they both work at The Comedy Store in LA — they stayed after the weekend for whatever reason and they were at this open mic. And I didn’t even know they were there.

So I did my set, and afterwards, Matt Billon came up to me and said, hey that was a good set. And I’m like, oh shit. All right, cool. Thanks, man. I saw your show on the weekend. It was really good. And we got to talking. And because I have some connections to Los Angeles, we know some of the same people. And so we got to chatting, and then the next day, he added me on Facebook and sent me a message asking if I wanted to do a guest spot on his show in a town called Tofino, which is a four-hour drive from Victoria. And the deal was I would get paid and do a five-minute spot and I had to drive back after the show and drive him and Hormoz back. And I was like, sure, I’ll do it. Why not?

And so I went up there. I drove the four hours to go do five minutes of comedy (laughs). I’m like a month sober at this point. I get there, the show is sold out, so there’s well over 100 people there; I don’t know how many exactly. But I go up first, and I got up there, and I said my first joke and it got a laugh — and then I completely blanked and I forgot everything that I was saying. I completely froze and I ate shit. Like I froze. I had nothing. It was nuts. What happened was, people were laughing and I looked down and I saw this girl was sitting at a table that was like maybe two feet from me — it was just awkwardly close, you know? And she was just scowling at me.

And I made eye contact with her and it threw me off, and I just froze. And I just totally choked and said nothing. And I had to call the host back on stage and I just bombed. Like, sorry everyone, I bombed. And I walked away. (laughs) I was destroyed. I was devastated, dude; like it was awful. And I walked outside, I lit a cigarette — I don’t smoke now, but I did — and Matt Billon came outside, too. He lit up a cigarette, and he said, has that ever happened to you before? And I said, nope, nope. First time. And he put his hand on my shoulder and he says, that was magnificent. (laughs) And he laughed and he made it a joke.

And it was like, okay, you made me feel okay about it. And they just made fun of me and were like, it happens to everyone, don’t worry about it. And it was cool. And then afterwards, I drove them back and we were going through the drive-through at Mcdonald’s, at like, two in the morning. And I went to order and Hormoz in the back seat is like, hey, you sure you got this? (laughs) And I was like, ah dammit. And Billon’s like, yeah, don’t freeze up! And I’m like, son of a bitch! It was really, really funny.

And so when I dropped them off, Matt said, next time you’re in LA, let us know and we’ll get you on in The Comedy Store. And then it so happened that I was in LA the next month, and they did! They got me into The Comedy Store and I did five minutes. And it DIDN’T SUCK. And I felt like I redeemed myself. So ever since then, I’ve just been hard at it. That was about a year ago. And now, I mean, I’m doing like six, seven shows a week — sometimes multiple in a night, and it’s going great, dude! Like, super great! I’m on a show called Just For Laughs Northwest in Vancouver in a couple weeks. I’ll get my first feature spot in Vancouver, and it’s going really well. It’s awesome. It’s super great.

Mekkes: That is so cool, man. Congratulations.

Duvall: Yeah, it’s been a crazy ride. So, yeah, Funny Tweets has been interesting for sure. My life just looks so different now from when we started filming that. It’s been really cool to have it come out. We’ve had a ton of support and so much good feedback.

Mekkes: Yeah, I liked it. I liked it because I was engaged the whole time, you know? Like I told Laurie, I’m an easily-distracted millennial and it was entertaining; it was funny the whole time, and I really enjoyed it.

Duvall: That’s great to hear, dude! That’s awesome. And I think that if you’re a fan of comedy, it’s cool to see some of the people from behind the scenes sort of talking about the way stuff works and how it works for them.

Mekkes: Oh yeah. Definitely.

Duvall: I don’t know. I personally think it’s interesting. It’s hard to tell because I’m on the inside of it, right? So it’s kind of difficult to see the forest for the trees.

Mekkes: I mean, I think it would be hard for me to find somebody in my life, in my circle, who hasn’t gotten good laughs out of the people in that documentary.

Duvall: Yeah, that’s a good point, right? I mean Matt Selman from The Simpsons covers everyone across the board pretty much. I mean we’ve all seen The Simpsons. Well, at least everyone I know. I mean I’m 37. So maybe not. (laughs)

Mekkes: I mean we’ve all laughed at their jokes. Yours and everybody’s. So getting all of you together [for Funny Tweets] — that was dynamite. It was really cool.

Duvall: Laurie and I have been talking about sort of going forward what we want to do next, and I think it would be kind of cool if we could get a sort of series going where we talk to different comedians — like twitter comedians and comedians who use twitter or whatever — and do a series on it sort of like that insta-famous one they have, but with comedy. I think that could be really fun.

Mekkes: Oh yeah.

Duvall: But I don’t know. Who knows what we’ll do next. I’m not really sure. Laurie’s talked about some other ideas he has as well. So I don’t know, man. I guess we’ll see.

Mekkes: Go for it, man! So I’m curious — there were a lot of people in the documentary; they’re all contacts of yours. Which of the people in that documentary, and in general, were in your “Twitter Gang,” [so to speak]? Because I remember you guys were talking about how many of you would re-tweet each other and these groups would form on Twitter.

Duvall: Oh yeah. Yup. Little groups and stuff. Yeah, it’s a thing.

Mekkes: Who were your people coming up?

Duvall: Like originally? Coming up and doing it with them? Definitely Danny Fernandez, Amber Tozer, Mark Sayer, Dave Attell, for sure. I feel like we all kind of started doing it around the same time. And Roxy, for sure. Roxy and I started right around the same time. We used to talk a lot. Brett Ryland as well. He and I used to have a parody account that we ran together that a bunch of people had the password to; it was a fake ‘missed connections’ account. I forgot about that, actually, till right now. There were a bunch of us that had the password to that. But yeah, all those people, for sure.

Mekkes: (laughs) Do you know what the handle is for that parody account?

Duvall: No, I don’t remember. I don’t even think it exists anymore. I honestly do not remember.

Mekkes: That is so funny, dude. That is maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. (laughs)

Duvall: Oh it was fun, dude. It was a funny account. I don’t know, it just kind of ran its course, though. And there’s so many other people, too, that are really, really funny that are crew that we didn’t get to talk to because they’re not in LA. Like CornOnTheGoblin, his name’s Corey, he’s really, really funny; EJ Gomez is another guy who’s really important to me; Kyle Lippert — these are all people who are my actual friends. They’re my real friends. I know them through Twitter, but these are actual friends of mine.

Mekkes: Awesome. That’s so cool, man. So, what was your process like writing for the TV show Giraffe Cops?

Duvall: So I’m not really the best with stories; I’m more of a dialogue person. So I prefer to write with someone else, typically somebody who’s better at stories. I partnered with a friend of mine Pat Donovan on that one. He’s a friend of mine. He’s a really, really funny guy who was my roommate at the time. And so when he and I would write, I would sit at the computer or he would sit at the computer, and the other person would just pace. And we would just pound it out. We’d just sit there and think of what makes a good plot line.

For Giraffe Cops, if I remember correctly, we would just write down all the different things that we thought could happen to the characters, and then we would take our favorite ideas and then sort of just run with them. We’d just start riffing scenes and then write down ideas for scenes and then those scenes sort of came together into a script. And that is also sort of how I’ve written several other pilots and even feature film-like scripts with my other writing partner who was in the documentary, Mark Sayer. He and I have written a ton together, and our process is very similar: he sits at the computer and I pace. He’s really good with story structure, so he does a lot of the storying. And then for the dialogue, I just shout stuff at him. (laughs) And that’s just how it is. He’s really good for that.

Mekkes: That’s so funny because, I mean, I guess that is one of your big strengths on Twitter is putting out funny stuff that people would maybe say. 

Duvall: Yeah, and that’s what standup is like as well — dialogue. I don’t know what else it would be for standup, (laughs) but yeah, that’s sort of the process with that. And the story of how Giraffe Cops started is kind of interesting too. So my friend Devin Moore, he was living in Toronto and he was working at Blue Ant Media. It was a production company in Canada that works with Chorus Network, and Chorus is like everything in TV in Canada; they are sort of like the Time Warner of Canada. So he was working there and he told a producer named Josh Bowen to follow me on Twitter. Josh did, and then Josh was working with these two guys out of Vancouver who run their own animation studio, who are super, super funny. They’re great.

Their names are Bart Bachelor and Chris Neilson. And they, at the time, were working on this show called Night Sweats, which ended up being on Cartoon Network Canada, I don’t Swim, and Mondo. And so that show was a sketch show, but with cartoons instead of live action, and they were the hosts that were live action in between the cartoon. And so Josh reached out to me and asked me to pitch an idea for a short cartoon. They already had a couple of cartoons with a guy named Jeff Shorkey called Don’t Beat The Humans and Mind Janitors. Don’t Beat The Humans was sort of like the flagship show, and World Doctors was their other one; those were like their two big animated shorts that were on the show.

And so the story of how I picked Giraffe Cops is that I was drunk one night in my apartment with Pat, my roommate, and I’m just coming up with ideas. And I’m like, what about um… “Police Cops.” And he was like, no. And I was like, okay, what about…. Giraffe Cops? And he’s like, oh my gosh, yes. And I’m like, that’s it! “Giraffe Cops!!” So I just pitched them that and they were like, yup, that’s the one. That sounds great. And then everything that I was pitching just kept working. They liked it and we ended up working together. So I ended up creating, directing, and writing this animated short.

It was such a crazy experience to be skyped in with voice actors and to undergo the process of coaching and learning. I didn’t know anything, man. I was so in over my head. I had no idea. I’m just like a dude from Twitter. So then, later in life, I ended up moving to Vancouver. And I was looking for a job, and Chris Neilson and Bart bachelor used to work in advertising. So they ended up getting me a job with an ad agency called Cassette. And I ended up working at Cassette for like six months before I moved back down to LA for a while to work on a script. I don’t know, man; it’s all just been like this crazy, weird shit, but all of it is from Twitter. All these jobs I got were from Twitter.

Mekkes: Wow.

Duvall: So Twitter got me in with Josh Bowen at Blue Lamp, which got me in with Chris and Bart, which got me into advertising. And all of that started with Twitter. I’m not mincing words when I say Twitter has changed my life. It really has. It’s been pretty wild.

Funny Tweets is out now! To see our interview with Director and co-producer, Laurie McGuinness, click here!

ryanmekkes

ryanmekkes

Ryan Mekkes is the editor and founder of Commyounicate Magazine. He is an avid martial artist, a musician, and a fitness enthusiast, certified through ACE as a personal trainer.
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