Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

Schrabbing: An Obtuse Tribute to Idiocy

Have you heard of Schrabbing? Maybe you've heard of Rob Schrab, co-conspirator with Dan Harmon on Community (Schrab played the voice of Cobra Commander in the "G.I. Jeff" episode) and well before that on the Wisconsin-area improv comedy scene. He's also directed of episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program, Parks and Recreation, Children's Hospital, Community and others, and is creator/artist of the comic Scud: The Disposable Assassin, about assassins you could get from vending machines.


He's now becoming a new kind of assassin online, slaughtering common sense and simple rational thought at the speed of Twitter. He's embarked on a form of pseudo-trolling that makes his targets shake their head in befuddled disbelief.

The methodology of the pseudo-trolling is simple enough: Ask someone a question about the thing they're discussion that has already been answered in the original statement.

But it's not quite as simple as asking Meredith which person on the next American Horror Story will have three breasts, or asking Bricken which character he thought ruined every episode of classic ThunderCats. There's more of a committed art to it, like following up the AHS question with 'How many breasts Bassett will have?' 'Which show will she be on?' 'Which season is the show in?' 'Is that the same show that Angela Bassett played Michelle Obama on?' etc.

The goal of Schrabbing isn't just to perform idiocy; it's more of a monkey wrench in the Twitter gears, an anarchic joker in the pack, the coyote that distracts by chasing its own tail and whooping ("I heard a cow once" — see below). Schrabbing mocks trolling while it performs a pantomime of trolling that still actually trolls. Just as Robert Downey Jr. has mastered the art of acting at acting at acting, Rob Schrab seems to have mastered the art of trolling at trolling at trolling (without being ridiculously offensive, also like Downey Jr.).


Schrab did his thing to Nanjiani on a recent episode of Harmontown (the chaos begins an hour and eight minutes into the episode, or just listen to the clip below), where Nanjiani calls it Rob Schrab's "campaign of terror on Twitter" and Jeff Davis admits Schrab is "committed to being an obtuse weirdo." Nanjiani notes one now-deleted Schrabbing exchange with comedian Steve Agee:

@steveagee: Who wants a Panasonic DVX 100B? I'll throw in a cassette player.

@RobSchrab: How many b is it?

They go on to try to figure out how to combat such a campaign of terrorism, and Schrab begins Schrabbing them in the middle of their anti-Schrabbing summit.


There are more examples here and here.

In a recent Salon article, Laura Miller describes the Schrabbing phenomenon in more detail and with some examples:


And its clear his trolling methodology is spreading, as noted by this UC-Berkeley sociology professor's response to her students:


One reddit discussion seemed to nail what makes Schrabbing work — it introduces an aspect of chaos, but it isn't just random: "It's much more dynamic and beautiful than simply repeating the initial tweet in the form of a question" and involves an aspect of "absolute chaos" that's also very directed, more of a scalpel than a scythe." It's almost like a new Twitterized incarnation of Discordia.

So if you're into meta-comedy with weird performative twists, you might want to keep an eye on Rob Schrab's Twitter feed. Whose Twitter feed? Rob Schrab's. His what now? His Twitter feed. Why would you follow that? For the Schrabbing. What's Schrabbing? Have you heard of Schrabbing? Maybe you've heard of Rob Schrab, co-conspirator with Dan Harmon...

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