If you’re anything like me, you’ve never heard of Dril before. But a lot of people have.
The prolific Twitter user, a confirmed Philadelphian, recently finessed his cultish following into a new cable TV show. As of mid-October, TruthPoint: Darkweb Rising airs Wednesday nights on Cartoon Network’s grown-up sister channel Adult Swim.
With a pixelated, grinning Jack Nicholson avatar that never changes, the @dril account has around 1.4 million followers. Called “the undisputed King of Twitter” by Vice, he’s also considered a poet and a comedy trendsetter. His domain is a contingent of troll-adjacent accounts inside of Weird Twitter — a subculture which, I learned while reporting this story, can get prit-tee strange.
Weird Twitter is hard to describe, but in loose terms, it’s an intentionally messy and comedic social media subculture aimed at making fun of more serious internet use. Its user base doesn’t necessarily like the label, but it’s the only way we, the regular people, can grasp things. Sry.
In 2017, Twitter’s not-so-goldenboy was doxxed, meaning his personal identity was revealed online. The internet was somewhat disappointed to learn that Dril was, in fact, a real person who had done real things in the real world — specifically in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Dril’s brand is one of crude satire delivered in the voice of a disgruntled older man. He attacks the ills of America as if they are personal demons, so there’s a lot of self-deprecation. He’s been credited with inventing myriad social media terminology, including being corncobbed (owned) and the trend of writing out “twitter dot com.” His oft-replicated stream of consciousness style looks eerily similar to how Donald Trump tweets. Coincidence?
In all his randomness, Dril has garnered real critical acclaim. Pop culture publication The Outline this year lauded him as “our best modern poet” and called on the folks down at the Nobel Committee to honor him with the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Traditional poet and Weird Twitter-associate Patricia Lockwood described Dril during a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania: “He is the corn syrup addiction of America and he is an expired Applebee’s coupon.”
The A.V. Club, another popular pop culture and tech publication, called him “arguably the most iconic Twitter account in the history of social media.”
Locally, he was nominated for the 2017 Pen & Pencil Awards, a celebration honoring Philadelphia media, in the category Non-Traditional News Provider of 2017. (He lost.)
Money is the tie that binds
On Oct. 16 of this year, Dril’s almost unintelligible Twitter feed — unintelligible to me, anyway, but apparently not to other people — transitioned to the far-reaching medium of television.
TruthPoint airs Wednesdays at midnight. That’s a prime slot for Adult Swim programming, as the network has historically attracted far more viewers under 35 between the post-midnight hour than any other cable or broadcast television program. For the week of Oct. 7 through 11, Adult Swim averaged about 604,500 viewers during that time frame.
On the show, Dril sits behind a desk and is joined by co-host Derek Estevez-Olsen, a podcaster and game reviewer. The pair are supposed to be alt-investigative journalists peering into “society’s most pressing issues.”
In a hat tip to his semi-anonymity — after Dril was doxxed, various news outlets refused to reveal that his name was actually Paul Docheny, so it slid back into the depths of the internet — he wears a vague white man mask.
Episode 1 was all about money. In its own way, it does kinda offer an interesting perspective on current events.
First, Dril addresses the criticism that he “sold out” when he monetized his internet presence and signed onto the deal with Adult Swim. The conversation turns to Ellen DeGeneres, and the kerffufle the lesbian talkshow host caused when she was seen schmoozing with former President George W. Bush in a cush suite at a Cowboys game. She then defended her friendship with him despite his anti-LGBTQ policies.
TruthPoint’s point here: money is the tie that binds. This segues to a montage of meditation-style videos repeating mantras about getting rich — and tbh it doesn’t get more millennial than proudly manifesting monetary gain. Just look at this tweet that went unironically viral:
The first episode even touches on racism. Co-host Estevez-Olsen testifies to the power of hypnosis and meditation, saying, “I watched one of those and I had it play while I was sleeping and it actually erased the n-word from my mind so I don’t even know what it stands for anymore.”
Embarrassed as I am to say it, I laughed out loud a few times watching the show. Will I add it to my weekly lineup? No, because it’s far too crass for my pearl-clutching tastes — and there are levels of weird I must actively block myself from reaching.
But at least I can say I do get the appeal.