Any blog with the tagline "Don't suck. Don't be boring," should catch your attention right away, if only on the assumption that its content 1) is not going to take itself too seriously and 2) strives to be just that, not boring.
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater
Fueled by this mission, the pop-culture, creative writing humor blog The Tangential has managed to find its niche while inviting an audience of wit-lovers to bask in its subjectivity. Borne of the creative gusto of founders Becky Lang, Jay Gabler, and Katie Sisneros, The Tangential started as a project launched by people who found their kindreds in a shared irreverent sensibility.
This weekend, the group takes the hilarity beyond cyberspace to Bryant-Lake Bowl. For Oversharing: Live, Tangential writers will be indulging fans with some of their most brutally honest confessional tales, and inviting audience members to take their embarrassment to the stage for some shameless over-sharing. Awards will be given for the most hilarious stories, plus every ticket to the show comes with a free e-book copy of The Tangential's humor collection, Sexts from the Sea.
The Tangential's goal early on was to simply fill an untapped creative writing gap on a local scale. "[At the time] there was no place to publish goofy, short-form creative and humor writing in Minneapolis," says Lang (who also writes for City Pages). "We had tried to do it with other publications, but realized that it would be easier to start from the ground up."
"Initially we saw it as a local blog," adds cofounder (and City Pages theater critic) Jay Gabler. "We saw our niche as writing creative posts about the local scene — different perspectives on what was going on in or around Minneapolis — but then also all sorts of absurd creative writing. It's evolved over the years. The first year caught fire with a lot of humor writing, which is a lot of what's in the new book, Sexts from the Sea: satire, parody, crazy lists, a lot of frank personal essays. It was around that time that Thought Catalog and other publications discovered that sharing this kind of offbeat, extremely honest, personal perspective really resonated online."
Gabler remembers his first introduction to Lang was, not surprisingly, over Twitter. "In 2010, I thought it was awkward to follow someone on Twitter who wasn't a famous person and who you had also never met in person," he says. "Becky was the first person I followed on Twitter who was not a celebrity. Somehow she came onto my radar and seemed so awesome that I was like, 'Alright, I'm just going to do this and see what she has to say.'"
"I had followed Jay for years," says Becky. "I remember laughing at Jay's Twitter jokes in college, probably two years before we met. I definitely had an idea of how you were," she says to Gabler. "I was picturing Jim from The Office. But I think you're more Midwestern-nice in person."
Since that time, Lang, Gabler, Sisneros, and influx of rotating Tangential writers have had plenty of real-time face-to-face. "The Tangential was — and still is — an interesting mix of IRL and URL," Gabler explains. "Tangential bloggers were the first group of people I knew where you could go out to brunch and, unapologetically, everyone was on their phones. Everyone was just tweeting what everyone else was saying. What fueled our popularity in the first couple of years was broadcasting not just that we're writing interesting things, but that we're a group of actual people who hang out together and have fun together. Hopefully people who read the blog felt like they were hanging out with us a little bit."
While Tangential still has a strong social media presence in the Twin Cities, it is also a source of entertainment for over 1.5 million visitors across the country. These days on the site you'll find things like hilariously bleak social commentary, satirical reviews of the latest blockbuster, musings on emoji use, and wedding vows updated for millennial couples. Meanwhile, their off-shoot Tumblr page, the Tangential Ruins Minneapolis, highlights their more locally-focused content. It's still is a passion project whose content derives from a cultural inquisitive group of writers with an intellectually robust bent, which is perhaps why, five years later, it continues to exist and amuse.
IF YOU GO:
7 p.m. Sunday, July 10
810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis.
For tickets or more information, visit bryantlakebowl.com/theater/oversharing-live.
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater