Shapiro, a Minneapolis native and TV comedy writer in LA, started the Twitter account Los Feliz Daycare four years ago and has since acquired more than 87,700 followers. On Jan. 30, it was named one of 50 Twitter accounts that everyone in LA should follow.
“In 2013, I was working on a couple shows. In the writers’ rooms, I was working with a lot of people with young kids and they were talking about the ridiculous schools,” he said. “One morning, a writer came in and told us how she’d been scolded for sending white bread in their kids’ lunch. At that point, I was like ‘these people need to be made fun of.'”
Shapiro will be back home in Minneapolis on Feb. 12 for “Can You Hear Me Now? Crafting a Voice in Social Media” a Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council Artist Salon. The event starts at 4 p.m. at HUGE Improv Theater (3037 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis), and will be moderated by social media analyst Andrea Siegel. Rimon is an initiative of Minneapolis Jewish Federation. The event is co-sponsored by the NextGen program at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis.
“In many ways Jason’s success comes from using traditional skills – developing a character and having a voice online that’s compelling, not just a spray of words,” said Rimon Executive Director David Harris. “He’s speaking to a generation that would rather go to the internet than to the theater or a novel. As much as you might dismiss Twitter as ephemeral, in the right hands it can be a next-generation art form.”
Siegel will be helping the conversation move along. As a social media analyst, Siegel helps clients to make sure that they are putting the right messages on the right platforms.
“The 140 characters of Twitter is perfect for him,” Siegel said. “He’s telling short jokes and stories while building a persona. A traditional artist – a photographer or painter – typically would have a portfolio website, with the ultimate goal to drive to the website. His art piece is Twitter.”
Los Feliz Daycare started taking off thanks to retweets from comedian Patton Oswalt, which led to local and national news coverage. LA Weekly called it the best Twitter feed of 2015.
Shapiro went to the University of Wisconsin to study screenwriting, and then once he got to Los Angeles, went through the Upright Citizens Brigade sketch and improv comedy programs.
“Los Feliz is really fun voice and character. There’s so much there in the PC parenting, young liberal culture that’s fun to make fun of,” he said. “We like to make fun of ourselves and there’s so much there. I have a lot of fun playing with that.”
Shapiro’s personal Twitter account tends to be a little more absurd, filled with whatever makes him laugh at the moment. But in order for Los Feliz Daycare to work, it has to evolve without being too topical. He also enjoys interacting with readers, but says his paying job does occasionally intrude.
“My job is TV writing so I really have to focus on work and less on Twitter,” he said. “I don’t engage a lot but I like to respond when I can. My mom definitely lets me know what people are saying.”
Admission is $12 ($6: ages 36 and under) and may be reserved by calling the Rimon office at 952-381-3449 or online at www.rimonMN.org.