"i like my womans like i like my cofee: very very mysterious. (leans back, sips cofee) is this even cofee"- 3 Dec 2013
So goes a typical tweet from "Jomny Sun," Twitter's most beloved, spelling-challenged alien. His delightfully absurd, occasionally profound musings have attracted nearly half a million followers and offer a refreshing respite from the solipsistic chatter and angry rhetoric that can dominate the Twitterverse.
Jomny is the brainchild of Jonny Sun, a PhD Student in Urban Studies at MIT who is every bit as funny and charming as his extraterrestrial alter ego. The Caret caught up with Sun, currently on tour for his new book,"Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Alienb Too," to talk about Twitter, his extensive streaming list and binge-watching "The O.C."
Hi Jonny! "Jomny" is such an utterly original character. How did you come up with him? Does he have a back story?
I don’t know how much of it was a conscious decision as opposed to a slow and subconscious development of some sort of identity, having spent so much time importing parts of myself onto Twitter. I consider Jomny to be an ego more than an alter ego! I still see @jonnysun as a personal account.
For the book, I thought more about how Jomny would actually exist as a separate character, but the Jomny on Twitter is just me. Book-Jomny comes from a species but not a family, and doesn’t know what hobbies are since I imagine that Jomny’s species would consider fun to be a waste of useful time. (Although, his favorite sites would be Neopets and Club Penguin in their prime probably!)
Twitter was simply the place that I loved coming to, and where I had found all these interesting, unique, strange people and voices and accounts. It was the only place that I felt was doing interesting stuff in a way that I could access directly, and in a way I understood and was comfortable with.
So much of what appeals to me about humor is its communal nature, so it’s always only made sense to me to make humor in places where I can be in conversation and dialogue with people who make me laugh and who I look up to. So, it wasn’t really a conscious choice—I just found myself spending a lot of time on Twitter because I loved the people there, and so I naturally started writing there as well.
How do you explain his/your popularity?
I think if you spend enough time in any place, you learn how people communicate with each other and tell stories to each other and you learn how to be able to connect with people in the way that is important to the people in that place. I think the way I’ve learned to write on Twitter is in spending enough time on Twitter to be able to think about how to translate ideas and jokes I want to tell into a form that makes sense to the platform and is also unique to the platform.
That said, my comic perspective has always been a little on the positive side, a little bit on the side of the outsider, and a little bit sad, and I’m really happy that that’s translated and made a connection with people. That’s all I want!