Chicago Ideas Week delivers deep thoughts ... and jokes

October 14, 2013|By Courtney Griffin, RedEye | RedEye

Hey, what’s the bright idea?

Chicago Ideas Week kicked off Monday and runs through Sunday at locations throughout Chicago.

Touted as an annual gathering of global leaders, the event features speakers including columnist Dan Savage, chef Mario Batali and Mayor Emanuel discussing topics ranging from literature to science to politics. The CEO of Etsy is presenting at a tech summit. The assistant managing editor of Time magazine will weigh in on a panel looking at the meaning of cities. And an astronomer from Adler Planetarium is scheduled to discuss the importance of visual arts in the study of space.

Organizers say the goal is to “stimulate new initiatives and ventures, create new connections and collaborations and establish a community of people who have the desire to achieve great things.”

In the spirit of doing things differently, RedEye decided to turn the tables on our interview subjects, letting them conduct their own Q&A session. We asked Brian Babylon, Chicago comic and host of “The Morning AMP” radio show on Vocalo 89.5-FM, to get the scoop on Canadian writer and Twitter darling Kelly Oxford, author of “Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar.”

Oxford and Babylon are participating in the “Comedy: It’s Funny ‘Cause It’s True“ talk at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. They’ll be alongside Niecy Nash of “Reno 911“ and Peter McGraw and Joel Warner, co-authors of “The Humor Code,“ a book trying to pin down the science of funny.

So what exactly is “Twitter famous” in your words?

I guess people who have a lot of followers on Twitter? I don't know. I can't think of anyone who has a lot of followers on Twitter who does nothing else in life, so if it isn't that, I don't know what it is.

How can one be funny in 140 characters?

If you've never made someone laugh in one or two sentences, I can't help you. If you have, you already know what to do.

You are not your typical-looking “Internet” person. Do you think that helped you?

I've been online causing trouble for longer than people have had profile photos. I think if I was a performer it would help, but I'm a writer. I don't have a head shot, and if I did it certainly wouldn't be on my scripts when I submit them, nor on my book proposals.

What are your thoughts on Canada hockey vs. the Chicago BLACKHAWKS?

When I hear Chicago Blackhawks, I think of Chris Chelios. When I think of Chris Chelios, I think of how he now lives in Malibu with his “Malibu Mob“ and chills with Tony Danza and Frasier and [surfer] Laird Hamilton. I once saw Laird twice in one week and that's the closest I'll ever get to a mermaid.

Chicago -> Mermaid.

Do you think your funny tweets can be turned into TV or movies?

All movies and television series have loglines, and those are usually a sentence or two. So I guess a tweet could technically explain a series of movie concept, sure.

We all know the concept of Justin Halpern's feed about his dad became a CBS series [“$#*! My Dad Says,” 2010-11]

I can't imagine why anyone would turn my tweet into TV or movie when I can and do write entire scripts.

Can moving to Hollywood make one lose some of their edge?

It could definitely stop one from tweeting about snow.

Interview compiled by RedEye intern Courtney Griffin.

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