When the internet apocalypse occurs (and it surely will, soon…), Gladstone will be looked at as the man that predicated it all. Gladstone is one of the internet’s most popular and prolific comedy writers, with his web series “Hate By Numbers” being one of the cornerstones of his success.
You can find Gladstone on twitter at @WGladstone, and you can find his entire article archive at his website, kafkamaine.com.
HT: Zombies Have Taken Over The Land, You Have To Arm Yourself. What Zombie-killing Weapons Do Carry With You as You Roam the Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands.
Gladstone: Seriously? Again with the zombies? I’m going to pretend that in Canada, where you’re from, zombies is like some slang for baby penguins. Accordingly, I’m going to have to go with steel-toed zombie-stomping boots.
HT: You were at the forefront of Cracked’s video series’ with Hate by Numbers, do you have aspirations towards acting or being in front of the camera again?
Gladstone: I’m sorry, what was that first part again?
HT: You were at the forefront of Cracked’s video series’ with Hate by Numbers?
Gladstone: Ah, yes. Thank you, for saying that . Twice. Sure, acting and being in front of a camera is always fun and I’d never say I wouldn’t do another video series or even bring HBN back, but right now all my energy is kind of being consumed by the expansion and rewrite of Notes from the Internet Apocalypse into a full novel – the original novella of which was serialized on Cracked.
HT: Tell me about that.
Gladstone: Well, it’s kind of a sci fi, mystery, psychological thriller, long form satire, love story. Sounds awful, huh? I kinda like it a lot. When the world suddenly and inexplicably loses all Internet access, Gladstone —a widower and government bureaucrat—decides to chase rumors that someone in New York City is still online. Soon he is joined by his friend, gossip blogger Tobey, and Oz, an Australian webcam girl, both seeking the return of their livelihood. Against the backdrop of a forever-altered Manhattan, they battle perceived terrorists, government agents, Internet “zombies,” and groupies who have come to believe Gladstone is the “Internet messiah,” until they discover why the Internet has stopped and, just as important, why Gladstone is on this journey. You can check out the Cracked short version here: http://kafkamaine.com/apocalypse.html
HT: You often take a more serious approach to topics than some comedy writers, you’ll cover issues that aren’t inherently funny on the surface – do you use comedy to work out your own disgust with the world? Is comedy a good tool for addressing these serious, anger-inducing issues?
Gladstone: I get bored doing what I don’t like so it’s a constant struggle to find something I want to invest in. My content really comes from that, rather any grand design to talk about serious things. The only column I’ve done for Cracked that was very serious and not particularly comedic was the one about the “Ground Zero” Mosque. I didn’t plan that. I wrote most of it on the New York City subway, vomiting opinions and emotions because I was just so angry about what fear mongers and an incompetent media were conveying. But I wasn’t trying to bring comedy to a serious topic. I was just putting words down on paper so I wouldn’t lose my mind, and to the extent that that column actually did change some minds, well I’m very proud of that.
HT: What comedians do you feel are the best at what they do?
Gladstone: Well, it’s a boring answer, but Louis CK really has been killing it for years now. And even though he was always funny, somewhere around 2000 he just became this wholly more impressive entity. Richer, more cohesive, and just flat out funnier because nothing was filler or pure schtick. He attribute this to having a richer life and I wouldn’t argue with him, but the thing that fascinates me most with his material is his bravery in acknowledging that we are terrible people and that we are okay with being terrible people.
You could take that realization and say “f*ck it, then. We can do what we want.” Or you could urge people to be better. He does neither. He just picks it up and acknowledges it and goes about his day, knowing we’re all damned, but also knowing that the people who don’t admit it are somehow worse, and also knowing that that being aware of that distinction probably doesn’t serve anyone. In that way I find his humor very Kafkaesque. Not in the sense that it’s outlandish and surreal, but that it deals with the flawed nature of humanity and its immersion in a constant moral gray area.
HT: What comedians are the worst?
Gladstone: Greg Giraldo sucks these days. He used to be one of my favorite comics, but ever since he died, his timing has really been off.
HT: What kind of foolish feedback do you get from people who don’t understand your writing? Anything ever get under your skin?
Gladstone: It doesn’t bother me if someone calls names or says I’m not funny. It does get me nuts when I go out of my way to address a specific point or argument and the commenter just completely ignores that and makes a comment he simply could not have made if he’d actually read what I wrote.
Another problem is that Cracked has worked hard to develop a very specific kind of article with a very specific voice. That’s great. I think the success of the site has proven the validity of that strategy, but the Columnists section, historically and I believe still today, has always had more freedom and diversity. In many ways that section is the soul and the future of the site. So it is frustrating when you get comments from certain readers who have been trained to accept only one kind of content. They believe that editorials or long form satire or even pure absurdity is simply not allowed on Cracked.
HT: Who is worse for society as a whole, Glenn Beck or Nancy Grace?
Gladstone: You realize I’m picturing them f*cking now, right? Why would you do that to me?
HT: You’re a big user of social media to promote yourself and your work, and that means a lot of fan interaction – any highlights from the best and worst of fan interaction?
Gladstone: That’s tough. I’ve met some very nice people over the years. Some kindred spirits. Some people who’ve offered good advice or webmastering and IT help. Some just very appreciative. And occasionally some made valid criticisms, too.
In general, my advice to social media subscribers is, don’t write me and tell me how high you are. I don’t care. Also, there is a segment of society that gives really harsh, even vicious, criticism that they don’t even particularly mean, but they think it will somehow garner my respect. It’s a phenomenon I’ve discussed with the other Cracked guys, too. It’s everywhere. You’d probably get it a lot too if more Canadians could spell.
HT: How did you get into comedy writing?
Gladstone: As I’ve written before, I was forced into comedy when the ZOG outsourced all the Baptized-baby drinking jobs.
I don’t know. I wanted to be a real writer at one point. And then I wasn’t. And then years later this Internet thing happened. I started small and just liked the feel of getting “published.” And then a funny thing happened. Just about every single Internet humorist I met became my best friend. All I can compare it to is those guys who are married for 20 years and then suddenly say “wow, I’m really gay!” And then they want to be gay all the time. Eight years ago I realized I was a comedy writer and I form quick tight bonds with most other humor writers I meet, which is weird because I generally hate people.
HT: Where do you see internet comedy in 10 years? Are we still reading lists and looking at cat pictures?
Gladstone: Yeah, I tend to believe it will keep sucking generally. The good news is people who navigate sites daily will just keep getting older and older. I mean, look at Soren Bowie. Holy crap. That dude’s almost 30! So weird. But I digress. The only change I see is more of a place for content beyond the 18 to 24 demographic which is good news for old, old, men like Soren Bowie who is old.