On Twitter, a peanut gallery mocks the Oscars

Oscars

You can simply tune into the Oscars. Or you can watch them with the peanut gallery on Twitter.

While Hollywood parades in tuxedos and gowns, grandly celebrating itself, a freewheeling cacophony of quips and sarcasm something like a digital, million-times multiplied version of those balcony Muppet onlookers, Statler and Waldorf will provide a welcome and riotous counter-narrative to the pomp.

The second-screen experience is never better than on Oscar night, when a separate (and some might say superior) entertainment experience plays out on social media. The running commentary, in which comedians and others parody the glamorous stars and their sometimes laughable speeches, has become as central to the Academy Awards as the red carpet.

"Following the Oscars on Twitter is like watching the show with one hundred million of your drunkest friends,'' says Andy Borowitz, the humorist and author who's often been a standout tweeter on Oscar night. Last year, he succinctly summarized the previous two best-picture winners, The King's Speech and The Artist, as "an English dude who couldn't speak'' and "a French dude no one could hear.''

Live tweeting major TV events, from the Super Bowl to the Grammy Awards, has become engrained in our viewing by now, forming a virtual water cooler that has boosted ratings. But the Academy Awards stream is particularly captivating because it provides an antidote to the on-screen, buttoned-down glamour. It's as if there's not an "SAP'' button on your remote, but a "YUKS'' one, bringing you play-by-play from some of the funniest people in cyberspace. Comedians assemble as if by duty.

"You gotta say something. Someone has to say something,'' says comedian Billy Eichner. "To just stand by and watch it happen is almost too tense. It's cathartic. You've got to just get it out on Twitter because if not, we're all going to be bottled up thinking about how awkward Anne Hathaway made it for one billion people in real time. I don't begrudge her the award; I'm just saying she's a ridiculous person.''

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