Comedian Mike Burns, who created the fictional Karl Welzien (@dadboner) on Twitter will read from his book, “Power Moves: Livin’ the American Dream, USA Style,” tonight at the Sunset Tavern.
“Power Moves” chronicles the decline of Welzien from a Dockers and golf-shirt wearing dad to pony-tailed party machine whose main goal in life is peepin’ babes, drinking cold ones and coming up with bold new ideas to cure a hangover.
For the past two years @DadBoner has tweeted more than 8,000 times and now has nearly 150,000 followers.
Gatorpagne: half champagne, half Gatorade, because hydration don't need a reason to celebrate, you guys. Is it in you?
— Karl Welzein (@DadBoner) May 12, 2012
That success and notoriety on Twitter landed Burns an agent and a book deal. Burns spoke over the phone recently about the character he created and how the popularity of the feed has taken him by surprise.
Q: How much of your own personality is in Karl?
A: The bad parts. Like when you lie and tell yourself everything’s OK, but really you’re at the bottom of a bottle and that OK feeling’s gonna go away really quickly unless you find another bottle to find the bottom of.
It’s therapeutic to write at times, because you can make someone’s life worse than yours. Giving someone a positive outlook on a crappy situation encourages you to have a positive outlook on your own crappy situation.
Q: Were you surprised by the popularity on Twitter?
A: Initially yeah, it started to take off and I was surprised that people actually liked it. I didn’t tell anyone. At some point I showed my manager and she said this is great.
Q: Were you disappointed when your identity was revealed by Deadspin.com?
A: Initially, but then the Twitter followers did increase. The Deadspin article got me 15-20,000 new followers in a couple days. It broadened the audience and made it a viable commodity as opposed to being something that was just fun times. Once the joy of writing anonymously was taken away from me that’s when I felt like it was OK for me to monetize it. It wasn’t just for me anymore. I wouldn’t have ever perused anything outside of it other than the (Twitter) feed itself if I wanted to keep it secret. Once it becomes public then it is no longer mine. After that I didn’t feel bad about trying to write the book or sell it.
Q: How did the book deal come about?
A: My manager and I took it to a couple of different agencies. I really liked CAA and their book department was great and I trusted that could sell it and they did. We took it to Harper Collins and they bought it. They gave me a lot of control. They are really gentle with the editing process. It’s a very unconventional book, written by a fake person. I didn’t want my name on it. I wanted it to be as if this fake guy wrote a book.
Q: What can audiences coming to see Mike Burns expect?
A: You’re not getting Karl. I think that would be a terrible disappointment and a mistake if I came out in some hokey costume.
I do an amalgamation of my own personal stand up that I think is in a thematic style with what the people who are there to see will enjoy. I don’t want to waste their time, I’m not going to come out and do my own personal political observations.
We do a lot of readings from the book. That’s a great way to connect with everybody. It’s a really enjoyable experience to sit in a room with a huge amount of people and laugh together at somebody and have that connection.
Q: What’s next for Karl?
A: There is something next for Karl. We’ll see if that comes to fruition or not, but I am not contractually able to talk about it.
Q: What would Karl think of Seattle, where marijuana and same-sex marriage are legal and we just elected a gay mayor?
A: Karl would enjoy that party atmosphere. Karl is very progressive and because I love the character so much I try not to make him stuck in the conservative mindset he was in the beginning of the feed. I like the guy to actually learn. And I don’t want him to be hateful.
Karl’s no stranger to marijuana. He tokes up roaches from his golf bag. Karl has philosophies for what it’s OK to do: “If you don’t have a job that makes you wanna kill yourself, then you don’t deserve to drink until you want to die.”
9:30 p.m. Friday at the Sunset along with comedians Matt Braunger, Brett Hamil and Marco Collins. Tickets are $15.