TIME Q&A: Pat Sajak Moonlights as a Twitter Comedian

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We’ll admit it: when we first encountered the Twitter feed of @PatSajak, we found it to be a bit of a headscratcher.

We’ve previously marveled at the fact the long-tenured Wheel of Fortune host is the same man behind a tweet like, well, this: “Just read my nephew to sleep with his favorite book. But shouldn’t a 31-year-old be able to read ‘Mein Kampf’ by himself?” And after talking to Sajak, we learned being taken aback isn’t unusual — although it might not be completely fair.

(See the top 10 game-show moments.)

TIME talked with Sajak about his Twitter profile, which he’s populated with a steady stream of zany observations and amusing quips since October. And we learned that 140-character comedy is just one part of his delightfully weird Internet empire.

TIME: How’d you get into Twitter?

Pat Sajak: Back in September on the show I made some remark on the show that I was going to send my first tweet from the set. I set it up before on my cell phone just before we started taping and I said, Now when you see this when it airs, if you go to Twitter, you’ll see when this show was taped. It wasn’t until late October that anyone knew I was there.

In the time between the first tweet and the time the show aired, I still had this account and there were a handful of followers so I thought I had to do something to keep them entertained. So during this period between this first tweet and the time it aired, I just started tweeting silly things. And people seemed to like it. I don’t have Bieber-esque followers at the moment, but word seemed to get around that it was a funny thing.

(See the top 15 game-show hosts, Sajak included.)

You’re managing to keep your page updated 10, 15 times a day. Does it get exhausting?

I’m trapped in this world of funny tweets that I have to come up with. It’s been a tremendous burden on my life. I go to sleep thinking, “What the hell am I going to tweet tomorrow?” It’s far more difficult than doing the show or buying rosaries or anything else. It pretty much dominates my day now. Even as I’m speaking to you, there’s part of my brain that’s thinking, “How can I tweet this?”

What has the feedback been like?

There’s the reaction that this can’t be you, because you’re funny and you host a game show. And I understand that – there’s a certain image that goes along with hosting, and I get that. So I don’t know whether to be complimented that they think I’m funny or be insulted that they think I’m not capable of being funny.

(See the top 10 Twitter moments of 2010.)

So what’s the mechanism for this? Are you just lugging around a phone all day to tweet when inspiration strikes?

I have a Word document on my computer stream that’s just tweets. As something occurs to me, I’ll stick it on there. You get this panicked feeling as your tweet page is empty and then you have to come up with something else.

A running theme on your feed is Alex Trebek (host of Jeopardy) as your nemesis. Is he aware of this? Is there really a secret league of game-show hosts?

We all live in the same condo. Most people don’t know that. Wink is next door – he’s always borrowing stuff. No, I don’t see Alex that much – I see him probably two or three days a year if that. I don’t know if he’s aware of it – I thought whether I owe him the courtesy of letting him know I’m doing this and I thought, nah, the heck with him. We’ll let him figure that out on his own. He’s a good guy and I think he’d understand what I’m doing.

(See the top 10 tweets of 2010.)

Your website is also very funny – I spent some time solving the Pensive Pat puzzle, for example.

Isn’t that narcissism at its finest?

Is all of this just a quirky outlet for you?

There’s a certain way to host a game show and a certain way to do other things. The purpose of the site and of the Twittering was not to show the world that I have a sense of humor. If you watch the show, you’d actually know that. Over the course of 30 years, you’d figure, “Oh, he’s a funny guy.” If I get to do other things, I get to do things in a different way. I sit in for Regis now and then on his morning show, so you do that differently than you do Wheel of Fortune. And you certainly tweet differently than you would do Wheel of Fortune.

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