Pour one out for “Hold my beer”

Here’s a delightful structure of Twitter joke that is getting awfully clammy:

I haven’t done meaningful forensics on “hold my beer,” but my best guess is that the phrase was originally used as setup rather than punchline.

That’s how the Twitter account @HoldThisBeer uses it:

Similarly, this BuzzFeed article from 2014 uses “hold my beer” as context for foolhardy fails. That’s also how you see it used on r/holdmybeer.

In this format, “hold my beer” is the frame, not the art.

But it’s as a punchline that “hold my beer” really comes into its own.

Here’s the generic structure:

SPEAKER A: There’s no way to top this outrageous thing I said or did. SPEAKER B: Hold my beer.

Since it’s destined to die from overuse, let’s look into how it works.

Speaker A has to be well-known — at least to the target audience. If we don’t recognize the name, the rest of the joke won’t make sense. In some cases, a headline takes the place of Speaker A.

The thing Speaker A did or said needs to be plausible, with bonus points for recent. There can’t be anything strained about the setup.

Speaker B needs to be recognizable. As with Speaker A, the joke only works if you know who Speaker B is. Either the speaker is already famous, or is temporarily famous because of recent events. The speaker can also be the tweeter:

Speaker B either just did something foolish, or can be imagined doing something foolish. To me, this is one of the most interesting aspects of this structure: it works both speculatively or retroactively. But like all things Twitter, the time horizon is very short. It’s hard to imagine the joke working more than a day or two after the inciting event.

When you encounter failed “hold my beer” tweets — and trust me, I found a lot of them — it’s usually because the writer missed one of these four important aspects.

Life after beer

The carcass of a dead meme can provide home for other jokes that subvert the expected payoff:

And it’s worth paying attention to the variant forms that continue to chug along, such as “hold my drink” and “hold my earrings.”

In the end, I think “hold my beer” has been a great joke structure for a time that feels bonkers. Every day as we scroll through Twitter, we silently ask ourselves, “Wow, could it get any crazier?”

Hold my beer.


The Scriptnotes Listener’s Guide

As Scriptnotes approaches its 300th episode, we keep adding new listeners who want to find the best episodes in the back catalog.

When asked for our recommendations, Craig and I are often stumped. Do we send them to the craft episodes, the live shows, the industry talk, the interviews with other screenwriters? There’s no right answer.

You can already search the transcripts for relevant terms, but to do that, you have to know what you’re looking for. What we’d really like to offer is a standalone guide with synopses and reviews pointing new listeners to the can’t-miss episodes.

A “scriptdex” of sorts, but without such an awkward title.

So we’re enlisting the help of listeners to build it.

We’ve set up this page for listeners to leave their review of any episode, indicating who it’s great for, and why it’s notable. In the past week, we’ve had more than 60 reviews come in.

Here are two examples:

152: The Rocky Shoals (pages 70-90)
Recommended for: Absolute beginners
Why this episode: There’s some great meat-and-potatoes discussion of craft in this episode. And as a woman, I found both Aline’s presence on the show, and her comments on how women should think of mentor-seeking in this industry, to be encouraging and freeing.
— Bekah Baldwin

73: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Recommended for: Absolute beginners, Seasoned vets, Non-screenwriters, Fans of craft episodes
Why this episode: Perfect gateway episode to Scriptnotes! A deep dive into a finely crafted script that became an iconic movie, into which fans can dive even deeper thanks to the link to transcripts of working sessions with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Lawrence Kasdan.
— Delories Dunn

Listeners are encouraged to recommend as many episodes as they wish.

We don’t know what the final product will be. It might be a book, or an ebook, or a searchable index. But whatever form it takes, we think it will be incredibly helpful to new listeners as they dive in.

Thanks to everyone who has already contributed. If you have favorite episodes, please consider letting us know.


Tuesday Reviewsday: Trains, Images and Screenshots

My picks this week are all on the Mac App Store.

Mini Metro

This beautifully-designed game scratches so many itches. Like SimCity, you’re trying to grow and optimize. Like Tetris, you’re trying to simplify complexity. And yet the game is surprisingly chill. Even when passengers are freaking out, it never triggers panic. If anything, it’s made me more sympathetic to the challenges of public transportation. (Also on iOS)

Acorn

I work with designers who are masters of Photoshop. I’m not, and have no plans of becoming one. My work with images is mostly for the web and internal mock-ups. For this, Acorn has everything I need. Its layers are intuitive. Tools and menus are where I’d expect them. And it’s rock-solid. I’ve never had it crash on me.

Plus, it’s a steal at $30. Highly recommended for anyone who needs “something like Photoshop” but not actual Photoshop.

Skitch

I’ve had Skitch set to Shift-Command-5 for years, and find myself using it nearly every day. The crosshairs come up; I grab what I need. Yes, you could use the built-in screenshot abilities to do it, but you end up with a bunch of files littering your desktop. With Skitch, they’re ready to be annotated and dragged out — generallly to Slack, where I’m sharing something with the team. (It also pairs well with Acorn.)

I honestly don’t use Skitch for the Evernote integration, and would happily buy it as a standalone.


California Cannibal Cults

Scriptnotes: Ep. 291
Play

It’s a new Three Page Challenge, where John and Craig take a look at listeners’ scenes and offer their honest critique.

We also discuss techniques for letting the audience know your characters’ names. Plus, Craig has been stockpiling his umbrage for weeks, and may have found a worthy target.

Huge thanks to special guest narrator Elizabeth Banks.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 3-16-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


The Social Media Episode

Scriptnotes: Ep. 290
Play

Craig and John discuss how and whether screenwriters should use social media.

We also invite longtime listeners to tell us which episodes are worth pointing out to newcomers, and answer a listener question on writing short films.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 3-06-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.


WGA Negotiations 101

Scriptnotes: Ep. 289
Play

Craig and John take a deep dive looking at how the Writers Guild attempts to make a deal with the studios on behalf of film and TV writers.

Then we answer listener questions about writing for producers versus writing for the audience, and last steps when finishing up a script.

Links:

Email us at ask@johnaugust.com

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 3-03-17: The transcript of this episode can be found here.