Leon Neyfakh of The New York Observer (right) hosted the fourth of his “Refresh Refresh Refresh” readings Friday night, at Happy Ending in Chinatown.
Abe Riesman of NY1, Caroline Bankoff of Interview, Richard Lawson of Gawker, filmmaker Lena Dunham, and Vanity Fair‘s Jim Windolf and Peter Stevenson all read original works about the Internet.
The intersection between real life and online fantasy was plumbed throughout the evening; Riesman described a Craiglist scam he enjoyed for its “IRL” thrill. Bankoff gave her comprehensive Gchat history, and Lawson described a teenage year spent creating a character and setting him loose in chat rooms.
Among attendees including Salon’s Alex Pareene, The New Yorker‘s Lizzie Widdicombe, and The Village Voice‘s Foster Kamer, though, the talk of the evening was Windolf and Stevenson — supported by a tap-dancing showgirl and a pianist!
They read selections from their “Wise Kaplan” and “Cranky Kaplan” Twitter accounts, in character as former Observer editor-in-chief Peter Kaplan. (For instance: “I just met a gal who lives in a high rise. Whatta town!”)
The difference between Wise and Cranky Kaplan? “Weâ€™re both both,” said Windolf — both men adopt both personae, and they shuffled through the tweets, written on index cards, at random. What’s the difference between wisdom and crankiness, then?
Lorrine Lampert, the Boardwalk Empire-y circus performer who joined the Kaplans, said that her target audience wouldn’t get the Kaplans’ sensibility (“It’s just humor that didn’t exist back then”) but spoke highly of their professionalism.
“They have the beats down,” she said. “It’s more suited, almost, for real life than for Twitter,” added her boyfriend.
“I have a bunch of talented friends, and I thought it’d be fun to put them in front of people,” said Neyfakh, and the crowd that all seemed to know each other, if sometimes only from online.
“I don’t go out, so this is stressful for me,” said Pareene. “I go to the office for politics, then go home and watch Project Runway.”
Not all are so shy: Hey, Rex Sorgatz, do you think there’s such a thing as the “Internet community?” Sorgatz, sitting in a banquette with a brunette and a blonde: “All my friends are Internet people.”
The Kaplans managed even to attract a few friends who may not have been Internet people: “Mostly the people who used to work for us,” Stevenson laughed. “But it can fill a small bar!”