By Andy Johnson
Mike Burns has what you might call a “good problem.” After years of toiling through the stand-up circuits in Chicago and New York, the self-described “piece of trash” decided to start over in Los Angeles, where he spent his nights on friends’ couches conjuring cheap tinctures (Champagne + Gatorade = Gatorpagne) and getting comfortable with Twitter, the social network for people who don’t know how to shut up.
Success for a comedian depends on exposure. Stand-up specials, movies, sitcoms, book deals, hosting gigs and podcasts are how funnymen and women make their mettle. Twitter has granted a generation of amateur comedians—for better or for worse—a medium to develop their one-liners and connect with new fans. Comedy Twitter is a meritocracy: if you’re clever enough, your star (and follower count) will rise.
Feel like I could drink a thousand beers right now, you guys.
— Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) November 2, 2013
With nearly 150,000 followers, Burns, 38, operates one of the most twisted and hilarious Twitter feeds out there. Burns is the creative force behind @DadBoner, the semifictional first-person narrative of downtrodden everyman Karl Welzein. Karl’s life is full of absurd catchphrases and callbacks, such as his preference for “bold flavors,” a devotion to celebrity chef Guy Fieri and a desire for hard partying that rivals fellow Michigander, Andrew WK. Indeed, Welzein’s eternal optimism and unshakable confidence that the next weekend will be full of something beyond Sisyphean personal failure is darkly entertaining.
Don't just celebrate Rocktober. BE Rocktober, you guys.
— Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) October 28, 2013
Burns’ aforementioned “good problem” is that because @DadBoner was written anonymously, he’d have no way to monetize it. As @DadBoner, Burns never broke character, ignoring replies to his account and churning out outlandish stories about petty feuds and harebrained schemes. Nevertheless, this dilemma was eventually solved by the nosy folk of Deadspin, who outed Burns because we just can’t have nice things anymore. With the spotlight shining on him, Burns decided to do what any American would: use his fleeting fame to make as much money as possible. And so here we are, Mike Burns and his friends out on the road, promoting his book and telling jokes.
Gonna get real thick and nasty with the fake bake so everyone sees all my bod's exclusive nooks and crannies. Cut Beef City, USA.
— Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) October 31, 2013
Burns proved to be a capable stand-up comedian and emcee Thursday evening at the Black Cat. The venue’s staff went all out for this booking, selling genuine Gatorpagne at the bar and wowing Burns by presenting him with real-life versions of some of Karl’s nonsensical pleasures, such as TimeHouse: a Time magazine cover pasted over a Penthouse. He also marveled that The Washington Post’s Express would publish a profile of him titled “Father Partytime.” (Get the joke?) It’s unsurprising that Burns and Karl have a similar sense of humor. Both men idolize Ric Flair and mire in the scatological (The term “cum taffy” was added to my vocabulary). Burns also teased the audience for their affluence and read excerpts from his actual OKCupid account: Pizzanacho69. The six things Burns can’t live without? “Titties. 6 of ’em.”
Less TV watchin', more babe peepin'. That's a new policy I just made up, you guys.
— Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) September 30, 2013