Twitter Creates a New Star
When screenwriter Jill Soloway heard about Kelly Oxford—a Canadian mom whose tweets have launched a Hollywood writing career—she went from rage to interest to interviewing her.
"Kelly Oxford is a bitch who got lucky and never paid her dues. She's just like me and I love her for it." – Diablo Cody ( Juno, United States of Tara)
"Kelly Oxford is young, sexy and funny as shit. She's the best thing to come out of Canada since Bachman-Turner Overdrive." – Jhoni Marchinko ( Will & Grace)
"I'm fascinated by Kelly Oxford. In this age of Twitter, one wonders about her life beyond 140 characters–what are her husband and children really like? She's a 21st century public diarist, her story told in shards, brief moments of wit and observation." – Jonathan Ames ( Bored to Death)
I guess I had to produce theater, work on shitty TV shows, sleep with a few showrunners, write 14 million pilots that never got made—but all she has to do is Tweet n’ Go. Anyway, I’m not bitter—I mean, I’m really bitter.
“Well, she's bitingly funny, but everybody knows that. Not everybody knows of her experiences as a nurse in rehabilitation. She has written some stories about that for her blog. These stories are the opposite of funny. … Didn't the man write in a play, ‘We laugh, that we may not cry?’ That may provide an insight into why she's funny.” – Roger Ebert
Vacationing in Hawaii last week, I was hit by the very unfortunate news that Kelly Oxford exists. Apparently, in the Twitterverse, she has a few billion followers, earned person-by-person via retweets—just for being HIGHlarious. Oh, and she’s an ex-model. Blargh.
As a lady writer, part of our deal is that, sure, we know there are hotter chicks out there, but they’re not FUNNY. You gotta have acne scars and a mean dad in your past, not a portfolio and European runway memories. This trend started last year when Diablo Cody and her glorious fempire—appeared, starring the impossibly gamine Lorene Scafaria. Recently, Tina Fey raised some collective girl ire by bathing in the soft light and corset costumes of her beauty magazine covers. It’s hard enough to be a lady writer. Doubly hard to be a funny lady writer. It’s official: now it seems we have to be smart, funny AND hot. FUCK.
So how, exactly, did it happen that Kelly Oxford, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom of three, who lives in Calgary of all places, developed a Twitter following full of Jessica Albas and Tony Hawks and Pete Wentzses (Wentzs?). Well: she began blogging, anonymously, in 1999. A year or so ago, the siren song of Twitter called to her, and she started expressing herself in shortform.
Cody was the first celebrity to find her, and after that, the floodgates opened. Actor Kevin Nealon tweeted she should get a book deal. Comedy writer Jhoni Marchinko emailed her, saying she would help her write a TV pilot, and began mentoring her. She’s writing a show loosely based on her fam, but TV scares her because she doesn’t want to move from a place where her husband, she said on the phone, “has an awesome fucking job. I’m so lucky I’ve been able to stay home.”
I got over myself by deciding she was probably a pretend person and that she was being written by Laura Albert now that the JT LeRoy jig was up. Or maybe her tweets were being twat-out by some fat husband, and he was sitting at the computer writing late-night emails with famouses while her heart-shaped ass slept.
Sadly, I was told she showed up, in glorious flesh-like person, at the Night of 140 Tweets Haiti benefit put on by Paul Scheer at the Upright Citizen's Brigade. Yes, people got a sight of her. Apparently, the words came out of her pretty little mouth, as if she were saying them.
Someone who observed her that night mentioned to me she’s like honey-flavored tuna butter to famous people. They FLOCK to her. RUN to her. Want to stand near her. I spent time in Hawaii planning ways to kill her. A Twitter-themed horror movie! #FF FOLLOW FRIDAY! SHE DIES THE DAY SHE GETS HER MILLIONTH FOLLOWER! 140 STAB WOUNDS!
I spent the next day poring over all of her tweets, old and new. Her tweets went from hilarious to so-so, but she always displayed the kind of “to hell with it, I’m posting it” that I, at 1002 followers, have yet to cultivate:
“It's fun living in a world where a child can murder and say 'cunt' in a film, but you can't say vagina in a tampon commercial.”
“'Fuck it, I'm wearing a diaper.' - lazy old people”
I finally decided to put either an end, or a beginning, to my misery, and track her down. It is my way. I thought it best to consume her like a delicious new pop song, over and over again, to the point of vomiting. Perhaps that’d make her disappear.
She answered my direct message quickly and we struck up a quick friendship. I told my ex-agent about her, he did some Googling, and 24 hours later, he had signed her. On Shabbos no less. I guess I had to produce theater, work on shitty TV shows, sleep with a few showrunners, write 14 million pilots that never got made—but all she has to do is Tweet n’ Go. Anyway, I’m not bitter—I mean, I’m really bitter. But whatever. In the meantime, from my so-called vacation in Hawaii—comes our interview.
Who the fuck are you?
I'm Kelly Winona Oxford.
Winona? For Realsie Reals?
Because it really seems like a made-up name, like Gisele Harvard or something. You’re super sure Kelly Oxford is your real name?
My dad named me after his favorite Charlie's Angel.
Do you realize how hard it is for me that you're an ex-model and you're funny?
Have you seen this? My childhood to D-list modeling career was nothing short of a self-propelled She's All That, and it was not glamorous. I was no Niki Taylor.
How do you stay so pretty with all of those children?
I'm young and normal looking for a girl my age, but for some people it seems unbelievable that I'm a Mom. The Mom image went from Betty Draper to Roseanne fairly quickly. I guess the sexual revolution allowed us to feel comfortable leaving our houses looking like Seth Rogen once we've bred.
Oh. Yes. That Seth Rogen part sounds uncomfortably familiar. I guess that begs the next question: How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
I'm 5'7" and 110.
That makes us lightweights.
Oh. You mean for wrestling. Well then… to be fair I should probably tell you that I might be in a different weight class. But I’ve got a singlet standing by and am up for some grappling whenever you are.
You just sounded totally gay.
Had you heard of me before I started stalking you? Also, have you heard if anyone thinks I’m pretty?
I'm a researcher by habit. If I'm curious, I get knee deep pretty fast. I knew you wrote for Tara, and that you used to write for my all time favorite show Six Feet Under. I think you are pretty and I don't hate you for it.
From your tweets it seems like you're sexually available but you also have a loving relationship with your husband. Which is true?
I always feel like if you say you aren't sexually available, you're baiting rapists. So I'm going to have to say both are true.
I noticed from your tweets that you’re not afraid of a rape joke. Tell me why.
My Mom warned me about rape when I was 5 because there was a student teacher busted for abusing the kids in my school. The visual, at that age, totally fucked me up. I make jokes about rape because I'm a control freak and I spin a lot of things that bother me into humor. It's bullshit, I know I make people mad, but I feel a lot better about feeling like prey when I can joke about it. If I get drunk with guy friends I often end up ranting about wishing I was a man so that I could just say whatever I felt like without there being any innuendo. I think that's a burden I feel, being restricted because of my sex. I forget I'm a girl. Being a girl and making a dick joke is so different than being a guy and making a dick joke. I've always envied men for being able to make the dick joke or the vagina joke and not having people assume they are flirting. Wait, were we talking about rape?
How does the word "feminism" sound to you? Funny? Or scary?
It sounds like whatever I say about it, I'll get yelled at for saying.
Have you ever taken your clothes off for money?
No. I've had my husband throw money at me while I was undressing, but he had just come home from a long business trip, so it was like a PTSD reflex from all the clubs he had been going to.
What about being on-camera? Is it possible you're the white Aisha Tyler?
If there was a black Kelly Oxford it would be Dwayne Wayne.
But you seriously have never thought about acting?
I've had a lot of offers to act in the last few months, but I'd rather be known as a good middle-class mom than a wealthy, terrible actress.
Who's your favoritest famous person you've met so far?
I sat crosswise from John Stamos at dinner last month. We were too far away to talk to each other. It was like having a platinum card in my pocket, and being told I could only window shop. Also, I'm a Mother of three, I know better than to pick favorites.
What about Roger Ebert? Why is he so into you, anyway?
Roger liked a blog I wrote about working in rehabilitation, and then he started following me on Twitter. Rog is into David Lynch and Hugh Hefner too, so being into me makes total sense.
Who takes care of your kids when you're tweeting? I have a baby the same age as yours and I know you have to let a baby that age scream in his playpen if you want to tweet as often as you do.
It takes me 30 seconds to write a tweet. My baby isn't screaming, she's breastfeeding.
What does your husband do?
Kelly: What do you do? James: I work for Kelly Oxford
What does your house look like?
Like the house in ET. Exactly, but with a reno.
Are you coming to L.A. to eat all the rest of the lady writers alive?
I sort of lose my appetite when I’m in L.A., but if I did I'd eat Mindy Kaling because I think she'd be delicious.
Hey, when you come to L.A., do you think you and your husband and children would like to stay at my house and share a family bed with me and my husband and children?
Why not? I know a couple that filled an entire room with mattresses and blankets and pillows and co-sleeps with the entire family. Six of them. They are fucking insane.
If that’s your way of letting me know you’re already friends with Brangelina, I GET IT.
Jill Soloway has worked in television (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara ), written a memoir (Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants ), and produced theater (Sit n' Spin, Real Live Brady Bunch, The Miss Vagina Pageant ). She directed a a couple of videos due out any day now on funnyordie.com, is a wife and mother of two, spends her free time trying to reinvent Judaism and is, it should be noted, exhausted.