On his second night as host of "The Tonight Show," Conan O'Brien introduced a new feature: Twitter Tracker.
The recurring gag features celebrity tweets – like “This line is insane, am I ever going to get my latte,” presumably from Miley Cyrus – delivered in a thundering, wrestling announcer-like voice. O’Brien grows mores exasperated with each breathless pronouncement, asking, “Who cares?”
It's a fun takeoff not only on Twitter, but the celebrities whose tweets dominate much of the media coverage of the social networking service – and whose often gramatically challenged posts of 140 characters or less actually become fodder for news.
Now, as Mashable reveals, O’Brien has quietly taken the joke a meta step ahead: He’s started a website and a Twitter account based on the bit, basically retweeting celebrity posts with sarcastic commentary.
“WE'RE ALL A WINNER WHEN PINK HAS A DELICIOUS DINNER!!!!! RT @Pink thanks to north bondi italian for a yummy dinner! soooo. good,” is just one example.
It’s a simple but smart move that lets O’Brien mock Twitter and its well-known tweeters while taking advantage of the microblogging service’s reach. He’s also taking a cue from his “Late Night” successor Jimmy Fallon, who is cultivating a young fan base by using social media.
With tough competition like David Letterman, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, O’Brien is trying to keep – and build – “The Tonight Show” audience, as well as get laughs, anyway he can.
O’Brien, who possesses a self-deprecating wit, is at his best when targeting the silliness and excesses of celebrity, such as in his old Clutch Cargo-style “interviews.” As 16-year-old Cyrus, one of his targets, tweeted this week, “my tweets were just on headline news- people twitter is NOT news! i just wanna live and learn.”
Hester tweets -- somewhat infrequently -- here. He is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Hester also is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.