What are the rules of creating humour from Winnipeg? A tweet from the account @MasonDRM sums it up nicely: “You are only allowed to make fun of Winnipeg if you are from Winnipeg, anybody else & we’ll fight you & steal your bike.”
“What’s funny about (Winnipeg) is it’s the only city that has no problem making fun of itself. Residents very much know what it is and are, in a way, proud of it,” Spencer Adamus, a local comedian, says. His current pinned tweet, with over 600 favourites, features four ugly, grey cityscapes of Pripyat, Ukraine (an abandoned city inside the radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) with the caption “When you’re watching the jets game and they cut to the skyline of Winnipeg.”
Tweets about Winnipeg and Winnipeg politics get high engagement for Adamus, who has a lot of followers from Winnipeg. “When (my followers) see a tweet that’s a joke about Winnipeg, they all can relate, because we’re all from this weird city,” he says.
An article from the BBC examining why Canadians are funny calls us “masters of homegrown self-deprecation.” The article goes on to say it’s common knowledge that our sense of humour comes from the inherent isolation of the country and the weather.
The moderator for the @InfectMB Twitter account (who wished to remain anonymous), who tweets thoughts, jokes and Manitoba-specific political satire, created their account partly due to the brutal weather here.
“All you can really do is make stuff and post stuff, especially with COVID, and then, this summer, (I couldn’t) go outside, because it just (smelled) like smoke,” they say. “There’s something really funny that you just can’t seem to catch a break in this town.”
Like its handle suggests, the @InfectMB account was started because of COVID-19 and was inspired by the moderator’s frustration about the provincial government’s response to the pandemic.
“It’s kind of just a way of taking the power back ... at first, it was a lot more preachy and heavy-handed, (but), over time, it devolved into just writing whatever weird thing pops into my head,” they say.
The moderator, who is also an artist, has found collaborators through Winnipeg Twitter.
“I (look) to see who’s out there that might be good to work with, and I’ve already got a few things going on with a few people,” the moderator says.
Adamus also finds opportunities thanks to the Winnipeg Twitter space.
“I’ve (booked comedy) shows because ... companies have seen my tweets and my jokes about Winnipeg,” he says.
The Winnipeg Twitter space – where locals connect, share their random thoughts and endearingly roast the city – offers a sense of community.
“When I started this account, I started digging around to see who was posting and who I thought was funny, and there’s just really an incredible sense of humour that people in this town seem to have,” the @InfectMB moderator says.
Adamus says because Winnipeg Twitter serves a niche market, there are always friends to be made. Or enemies, he adds.
Winnipeg “is not as bad as people say it is, but the joke is that it is ... It’s the most beautiful, ugly little city there is,” he says.
Published in Volume 76, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 16, 2021)