Interview with online prankster, David Thorne
- 22 March, 2010 12:56
David Thorne doesn’t believe in sacred cows. But as a marketing designer, there are lines to be toed and defined boundaries of creativity. So he created the virtual playground 27b/6, where nothing and nobody is safe; co-workers, landlords, police officers and his son and his school’s “fat-headed” chancellor are sufficient comedic fodder. He blends merciless wit with shock humour and has won a bet that he can make a viral blog at a drop of a hat. He also has the word ‘SHEEP’ tattooed on his bicep.
Darren Pauli: I am currently in a state of sleep deprivation that cannot be broken by caffeine. This has been caused by my insomniac wife who laughs at your book at 3am. Will you release a lengthy non-fiction novel to remedy her condition, which surely is suffered by others?
David Thorne: I have been working on a novel for the last six months. I have kept it pretty hush hush but as the novel is nearing completion now, it can’t hurt to announce its imminent release. It is about a black car that fights crime and can talk. I am very excited about the possible television and movie offers that will no doubt be pouring in. In fact, I have been working on a non-fiction novel for the last six months which does not contain any crime-fighting-talking-cars but due to interruptions including beer, the internet (it has a lot of stuff I like on there) and things I have to do to pay the rent, it should be available in stores early 2026. Look for the book with a robot cat entering a time machine on the cover.
Last year you created a fake McDonald's letter signed by so-called managing director ‘Robert Trugabe’. It was widely reported. Are journalists stupid?
In defence of journalists, that particular article was first distributed by social networking sites and reported on by blog writers before the media picked it up and questioned its validity fairly quickly. Subjects that most people can relate to — in this case, finding items missing from your takeaway drive-thru order — will generally result in the article being picked up quickly. Unfortunately, a few days after admitting to the fabricated memo, I was arrested, questioned and had my laptop taken for evidence under e-crime legislation. Luckily, when they asked for my laptop, I pointed to an old one that hadn't been used in 10 years and they took that. When they search through it, they will find only photos of me at the beach, bad 90s mp3s and fan emails to Winona Ryder.
Who are you going to impersonate next? (Or just tell us so we don't cover it)
I never know what I am going to write prior to the time I sit down at the keyboard. The premise will usually be based on a situation that has happened recently and the content from previous related situations. The emails I post are not impersonations and apart from spelling corrections, which is my prerogative, name changes if I feel it is appropriate and the occasional grammar fix, the correspondences are verbatim. After posting a recent article regarding a camping trip with a friend named Simon, not to be mistaken with cheaparse clients of the same name, I have been threatened with "a serious bashing, possibly broken bones" so the next 10 will probably feature him.
Did Roz Knorr ever fly her hit men in her “private plain” to Adelaide to whack you?
No, but I have not slept well since her threatening emails and often when I can sleep, I awake drenched in sweat from horrific nightmares where Roz is standing over me. Usually wearing a see-through nightie with Barry White playing in the background. It has gotten to the point where I fear leaving the house at all and people have started asking if I suffer from agoraphobia, an illness generally self-diagnosed by the unemployed as an excuse to stay at home and play Modern Warfare 2. I did receive an email from a lawyer representing Roz after I had posted our correspondence, demanding its removal, but as it came from a hotmail address and contained several of the same spelling mistakes that Roz herself made, I sent back an autographed photo of myself riding a bicycle and this seems to have been an acceptable compromise.
I think the funniest parts of your books are the emails. How do you find these people?
As a general rule I never initiate correspondence, just respond stupidly. It would be easy to simply send out hundreds of emails with the hope of initiating a humorous chain but this would hardly be unique and there are many who do this and do it far better than I could. Emails or letters from individuals or businesses that are obliged to respond, up to a point, in a respectable manner are usually the most entertaining. Most importantly, there is no way to know if the correspondence will continue, and even if it does that it will be well-received by later readers, so you have to enjoy writing and do so to entertain yourself foremost, if others enjoy the result afterwards, it is a bonus.
The ’Open Book’ store scam showed you have an aptitude for this sort of thing. What are some others?
While it would be nice to liken my 'young criminal mastermind' activities to that of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat, I actually cried the first time I was caught and never stole again. When I was at school, the obligatory item of clothing for every child wanting to be part of a group was either a Holden or Ford jacket. I would wag school during morning classes to catch the bus into the city, shoplift several of each, then catch the bus to school in time to sell them for ten dollars each (RRP $19.99) during lunch time. This business operation lasted only until winter though, as the fashion requirement changed to black Duffle-Coats which were simply too bulky to hide under your Duffle-Coat and walk out of shops with.
My friend recently bought a Macbook Pro. Is there a cure?
Unfortunately not. Having a MacBook Pro is not curable. The best thing that you can do is be a good friend by nodding understandably and agreeing with every loving statement he makes regarding his MacBook Pro. These statements will include, but not be limited to, the sophistication of the operation system, the contemporary design and how "it just works". In the words of the legendary Maddox, there is only one thing that Mac users can't do that Windows users can, and that is "shut the **** up".
I love a cheap headline. What do you think of the Internet content filter?
Without an enforced system of guidance, people would have to exercise their own discretion. Not being a responsible adult, I desperately require others to make responsible choices for me and applaud the introduction of the Internet Content Filter. I am hoping that this is just the start of a dedicated governmental agency that will have the power to enter our homes to burn books that they do not approve of and, eventually, be able to monitor our thoughts. Possibly with some kind of ray. I actually constructed my own thought-ray when I was 12 by connecting the innards of a dismantled microwave oven to a tape recorder — which repeated the words "Let David paint his bedroom walls black" — and plugging it into the mains. Unfortunately, the only results were being thrown across the room, receiving third degree burns to my hands and arms and forgetting how to do long division.
I'm a journalist and you're in marketing. Are we enemies?
In many respects, marketing gives you something to bitch about and it is therefore a symbiotic relationship. Like those little fish that swim around with sharks or the birds that clean crocodile's teeth. As my day job entails making poor products look appealing so that people will be tricked into buying them and yours often consists of taking a story nobody cares about and tricking people into reading it, we are more like prostitutes working different corners than enemies.
The IT industry isn't known for its humour. How can IT people be funnier?
A good start would be to stop writing dreadful lists of alternative computer acronym explanations. The only people who find these even remotely clever or funny are other programmers and they don't count. Programmers should stick to sitting in basements, surrounded by pizza boxes, empty Red Bull cans and overflowing ashtrays, tapping away at their Fortran while downloading Photoshopped pictures of Gillian Anderson.
Join the Computerworld Australia group on Linkedin. The group is open to IT Directors, IT Managers, Infrastructure Managers, Network Managers, Security Managers, Communications Managers.
Thanks a million, Drupal
Optus goes over the top with VoIP service
Turnbull asks how the NBN got that way
U.S. retailers insist on PIN requirement in smartcard rules
Yelp speeds database access with flash storage