This post should serve as a brief introduction to me – the occasional hack who writes “SarcasticRover”.
My name is Jason Filiatrault, and I’m a screenwriter from Calgary, Canada.
I work primarily in comedy – have a few feature scripts in development with very nice people, a sitcom in development with a Canadian broadcaster, and a very nice agent at Gersh in New York.
That’s really about all there is. But, if you’re more interested in why or how I wound up writing a Twitter feed, then you can read the transcript of an interview I gave to the WSJ entertainment blog, which has not been published:
Q: When did you come up with the idea? Did anything/anyone inspire you?
A: I came up with the idea the night of the landing. I had an image of the rover complaining about the inflight movies on the way to Mars, and that kind of snowballed to some other jokes – and then I just really enjoyed the concept of this sad/angry/manic rover. As for inspiration, I’ve always been a big Douglas Adams fan – so Marvin the Android of course, and Jim Henson’s more darkly humorous stuff is probably informing this a great deal as well. His puppets had a good knack for saying horrible truths with a crazy smile.
Q: Have you ever made a fake Twitter account like this before?
A: This is my first “fake Twitter account” – though, I mean, It’s a real account, it’s just not all about me. I think of it more like a character or a costume. It’s real, but it’s still just entertainment.
Q: Are you surprised at how many people are following this one?
A: I am, in fact, shocked. I had no idea anyone would even look at it, or get it, or appreciate it. This kind of humour is written in such a vacuum, and so dependent on the reader being receptive to the tone – that you can’t ever assume it’s going to go over well. Mostly, I just try to make myself laugh or at least say something interesting about the rover. Curiosity is the real hero.
Q: What kind of response have you gotten? Lots of fans? Anyone angry at you for making light of something serious?
A: Everyone has been so so so wonderful about this. Honestly, it’s been pretty much all positive from what I’ve seen. I think people are taking it in the spirit it’s intended, which I’m thankful for. And let me be very clear – I am a huge NASA fan. Curiosity is a staggering achievement, and represents so much of the best that humanity has – in terms of intelligence and imagination and ambition… the space program is indicative what we should always be striving for; knowledge and understanding.
Q: Do you have a real twitter account and how many followers do you have there?
A: I do have my own account and my follower number there hovers around 100 – I am not nearly so well liked when I’m not pretending to be a nuclear-powered sarcastic robot.
Q: You say you are a writer. What kind of writer? Do you write comedy or more serious stuff?
A: I write for TV and movies and that stuff, but nothing anyone would know probably – and I write comedy pretty exclusively now. Mostly though I’m just a fan of science and space and I’m self-centred enough to assume people will want to share in my enthusiasm.
Q:Are you getting suggestions from jokes from fans or is it all just you on your own?
A: The fans (followers seems a bit dismissive) make some great observations, and some fantastic science puns. That said, all the tweets I do, those are my own jokes – because I’m a control freak I guess.
Q: Have you told any friends/family about this and what was their response?
A: Friends are very supportive and excited. Family is curious to find out what a Twitter is.
Q: Who do you follow of twitter? Do you follow the real Mars Rover twitter feed?
A: I totally follow the real Mars Rover and lots of the JPL and MSL team – those women and men are just about the best – and all really decent and amusing folk. I follow a lot of friends and comedy people and other writers. Mostly I just to learn and laugh – so if a feed does that, I’m happy.
Q: If Sarcastic Rover could tell his fans one serious, non-sarcastic thing, what would it be?
A: I think @sarcasticrover would just want to come home, as for myself – I just want people to know that the real Curiosity Rover and the people that put it up there – the engineers and scientists and programmers – those people deserve so much of our collective goodwill and appreciation. They make humanity better and smarter with every single day, and they do it for the pure joy of discovery, which is mind-blowing. They’re stellar.