The man behind Jocelyn Plums and @FilthyRichmond

Several years ago, the fake blog of Jocelyn Plums raised the eyebrows of many in RVA. Now Jocelyn’s Twitter account (@FilthyRichmond) is a national hit.

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Jocelyn Plums is in her early 40s, recently remarried, mother of four, and a Twitter phenomenon with over 50,000 followers. Her account, @FilthyRichmond, was recently ranked second in the Mashable list of 25 Twitter Accounts to Make You Laugh. But Jocelyn Plums is not real.

Created by “Joseph” (who requested anonymity), @FilthyRichmond has grown from an obscure local blog into a Twitter account with national notoriety.

In 2008, Joseph started Jocelyn’s Corner, a blog in the voice of a motor-mouthed, middle-aged woman all too willing to publicly disclose what most would keep private. “She’s the person making everyone miserable with her selfishness,” said Joseph in a phone interview. “She’s like Roseanne…without the heart of the family.”

Joseph said his own family was very sarcastic and grew up watching sitcoms and Saturday Night Live. In elementary school, he read Matt Groening’s1 Life in Hell comic strip, instilling in him an appreciation for irony and satire. As a teenager, Joseph admired stand-up comedians like Rodney Dangerfield, Andrew Dice Clay, and Pee Wee Herman. “I always liked characters,” said Joseph.

Joseph began composing the exploits of Jocelyn Plums in 2008 as a hobby. To create circumstances for the coarse woman to write about, he exaggerated his own childhood experiences. In an April 2009 entry, Jocelyn wrote:

On Monday we all went to the grocery store. I made the mistake of taking them through the checkout with me. As I should have guessed, they totally flipped out over the candy rack. I told them “no” and they started throwing a group tantrum. So I tossed a candy bar onto the belt and said, “Fine!”. But once I got them strapped into the car I opened the candy wrapper and ate the whole damn thing right in front of them. Tough love never tasted so good!

“I think it’s in all of us,” said Joseph about the selfishness Jocelyn typifies. “I think people notice it in others but not in themselves.” He wanted to comment on that selfishness, as well as those who are too uninhibited on their blogs. “Some people divulge too much information,” he said. He used Jocelyn’s Corner to comment on that. “It turned it more into a dry satire.”

Joseph said few have been offended by Jocelyn. However, some have been shocked, largely because they thought Jocelyn’s blog was a nonfiction account of her day-to-day life–that they were not reading a clever take on society, but the diary of someone who, for instance, actually used a broom to create an “indifference stick” to distance herself from her 8-year-old son. No one could think this was real, right? “A lot of people…thought it was.”2

Joseph said he got on Twitter “as a means to promote the blog.” In January 2011, after accumulating thousands of followers, he stopped blogging altogether, using Twitter as the only means to document Jocelyn’s exploits. He gave Jocelyn the handle @FilthyRichmond, inspired by the moniker some California rap artists wield for the San Francisco Bay Area.

As a blogger, Joseph had virtually endless space for Jocelyn’s logorrhea. On Twitter, he only had 140 characters. “It was really hard at first,” he said, to make the adjustment. The lack of space focused him on writing simple, direct jokes. Whether at home or at work, Joseph seldom drafts tweets, relying on comedic instinct in tweeting approximately 15 times each day. “I go off the cuff,” he said. It’s worked. People really like Jocelyn in smaller, Twitter-sized bites. A lot.

Comedians Patton Oswalt and Jim Gaffigan follow the account, and have even retweeted from it. Roseanne Barr followed it at one point, said Joseph, along with other comedians and avant-garde actors. “That’s been the coolest and most exciting thing for me,” he said. It’s also helped parlay into followers. Furthermore, the recent Mashable nod netted him an additional 2,000 followers in just two days. “It’s really exciting.”

Although an admirer of stand-up comedians, Joseph has no interest in doing it himself. The only interest he has in comedy beyond @FilthyRichmond would be writing. But even then, studios and production companies prefer their writers live in Los Angeles or New York City. Joseph doesn’t want to leave RVA.

While only known to friends, family, and select acquaintances, Joseph has considered being more forthcoming to the public. “I’ve thought about writing more as myself,” he said, even entertaining the idea of writing a book. But he’s not in a rush to leave behind @FilthyRichmond. “I feel like I’m actually creating something that’s satisfying and that people enjoy,” he said. For the time being, he’s happy to let Jocelyn do the talking.

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Footnotes

  1. Groening would later develop The Simpons and Futurama
  2. It’s also caused some confusion on Reddit 
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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