23 Aug 2014
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Revolutionary Words, 140 Characters At a Time

Clarke student goes viral with a video that attaches modern technology to a well known tale.

She's not a singer or a dancer, but she sure can make people laugh.

If that's the schtick shared by many of today's comediennes -- and it appears to be -- then Lexington's Abby Schwartz seems to be on the right track.

A local middle-schooler, Schwartz has riffed on Longfellow's poem to produce "The Midnight Tweet of Paul Revere," a talent show performance that went viral via YouTube video.

"I like being funny," said Schwartz, a seventh-grader at Clarke Middle School. "But I don't think I'll ever be a professional comedian."

Maybe not, but her work to-date has melded her quick wit with with social media in a way that a PG-rated Tosh.0 would appreciate.

With help from her father, Edward, and her friend Gus Kjelsberg, Schwartz mashed up the American Revolution with the recent social media-sparked revolutions in Northern Africa and the Middle East to create "The Midnight Tweet of Paul Rever," for a middle school talent show and YouTube video released recently.

Schwartz knew she wanted to go the comedy route for the school's talent show. And, at dinner with her parents recently, inspiration struck for a satrical re-write of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem. 

"I said, 'OMG, the Redcoats are coming," said Schwartz. "And I said it in the middle of dinner, and my dad said, 'That's what you need to do for the comedy routine."

What followed were hours of planning punchlines, about "Ye Olde Angry Birds," "A Groupon for ale at half-price" and "Revere fires off a hasty tweet, 'OMG, the British are coming with guns,' Paul types in with his hasty thumbs.'"

"We didn't know where to use all the gags," said Schwartz. "We had a list, and then needed to figure out where to put them in."

That took a couple of hours, she said, and it was another few hours to make the signs, put together the video and finish the project.

"I think it came out really good," said Kjelsberg. "I liked filming it."

Putting it all together was a lot of fun, according to Schwartz. They talent show portion was a performance with signs, but the video involved shooting at a few locations, including Lexington's Battle Green -- which luckily happened during the costumed dry-run of the Lexington Battle reenactment.

"We had a great time going around and seeing the sites," said Schwartz. "It was a little cold, but I like taking pictures and I was taking pictures of Gus using the iPad, and I can't tell what the temperature is while I'm taking pictures."

Now that they've gone viral -- and to good response so far, they said -- neither Schwartz, nor Kjelsberg, nor Edward Schwartz has any reservations about the finished prodcut being on the Internet, for mass consumption.

"People do way stupider things on YouTube," she said. "I don't think it's too incriminating."

Said her father, "It was a fun, and it's sort of a testament to new technologies that we could make this. ... There's nothing nefarious about it, so we thought they're alright."

As for Abby, she's not sure how far she'll take the whole humorous video thing, but she expects to come back with another one for next year's talent show. The topic, she said, is still up in the air.

"I'll probably do another thing next year," she said. "But about what, I have no clue."

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