Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Q&A with the man behind @FauxPelini
By Mitch Sherman
The most popular parody Twitter account in college football boasts 104,000 followers. The mystery man behind Faux Pelini visited with ESPN.com about the experience as a lampoon of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
Where was the idea of Faux Pelini born? When I first got involved with Twitter, I learned about comedy accounts and parody accounts, and there wasn't a Bo Pelini parody that had any traction. It seemed like there should be, given that this was back in 2010 during the height of what was thought to be his most colorful time as coach. There wasn't a grand design. I started making jokes, and it took off from there.
How have you mastered the art of being funny in relation to Bo as a person and coach? I pay attention to his demeanor in press conferences, on the sideline, of course, and try to create a caricature, which is just to take over the top little examples of what he does. I take it eight steps further and create this fake character. It takes to an extreme what people think he must be like, although we all know it isn't what he is. I think that's becoming clear now, that he's not this one-dimensional, maniacal character. But Faux Pelini definitely is a one-dimensional, maniacal character. He hates stupid questions. He hates anybody questioning him. He hates anything irritating him.
What can you tell us about your background and connection to Nebraska football? I grew up in Omaha and went to high school as a hard-core Nebraska fan, watching every game. I listened on the radio. I went to a different [former] Big Eight school. But me as a fan is at the heart of this thing. I'd be watching games anyway, so I might as well be watching them as Faux Pelini and tweeting about them. I'm in Chicago now, but I still have a real connection to the team in that I'm still a huge fan. I'll go to bars or friends' houses in Chicago and tuck away in the corner, doing my tweeting.
How big has Faux Pelini become? Bo Pelini brought a cat to the Nebraska spring game.
Family and friends who know what you're doing, what do they think? We laugh about it, especially with the recent attention it's gotten. It's just so surreal and funny. On one hand, it's a cool thing that has grown and is just fun. On the other hand, it's so bizarre and ridiculous that you have to shake your head at what it even is. There are times when I stop and think about what I'm doing, and it's just odd. It's an odd social-media world that we live in.
Have you ever almost accidentally revealed your identity? I don't have any examples of technical failures. I'm still waiting for that day to come, which, knowing me and my technical abilities, I'm sure it will come. Sometimes, with friends and family around, they'll talk a little too loudly or openly about it around people who don't know, and I'll start to wonder if the word's getting out.
Do you envision a time where you would want to come out in public? I haven't really made up my mind to that. I don't have a plan for that. If it happens one day in connection with other [media opportunities], I think it would be fun. But right now, it's just easier to manage without that. It's not that the reveal would be shocking, interesting news to anyone other than people who know me. It's just it's easier for me to manage it without having to deal with that.
Does Faux Pelini have a finite shelf life? It definitely has a shelf life, an expiration date. I will definitely stop doing it when Bo is no longer with Nebraska. That will be the day that Faux Pelini is no longer. That doesn't mean I won't do something else. I probably would. Maybe it would be on Twitter, maybe not, but I'll be keeping busy with some sort of writing.