Behind The Satirical "The City Of Cape Girardeau" Facebook Page: Poking Fun At Human Error
If you live in Cape Girardeau and have a Facebook account, you might have seen a page boasting the name, “The City of Cape Girardeau.” It has the city’s seal as its profile picture, and nearly 6,000 followers and counting. But there’s a catch; it’s not run by the city of Cape Girardeau and the posts on the page aren’t real either... It’s a satire page. One post that resonated with many people in August went a little something like this:
And another, earlier this month:
Well, we got ahold of the person behind the account, but he wants to remain anonymous. He started the page several weeks ago, and when asked if he was just an observant native, he said he moved here eight years ago from Farmington.
I had about a year and a half of high school left. Because of that, I really went out and tried to make friends with all kinds of people in vastly different social circles. And since most people tend to gravitate towards spending time with their specific group of friends, I feel like it really limits the amount of experience that they’re able to have with everything going on around them. I feel like if you keep yourself in your comfort zone, it really limits the amount of opportunities you have to expand on your social network and meet all kinds of new people that can help you with things later on down the road. Or, in my case, feed me with hours of material for things to poke fun at.
So what started this? When did you start this profile?
Just a couple of weeks ago, actually. I was on my way to work one day; I got stuck in a line of cars behind a big box truck that couldn’t really accelerate as fast as we wanted it to on those steep hills there on Mount Auburn, actually, between Hopper and Independence. Really, I was running late for work because I overslept. But I got to work finally and I decided, ‘I’m gonna start this page,’ and Mount Auburn Road was going to be its first victim.
On the Traffic in Cape Girardeau and Human Error
One of your most liked posts with 822 reactions has to do with the traffic in Cape. And it’s kind of funny because you started this page in the traffic of Cape. There’s a crazy amount of roundabouts, and they’ve been installed recently. And from personal experience, I’ve hardly ever entered one of those things without someone doing something wrong, myself included. Do you think trouble on the roadways in Cape is a prominent problem in the city from what you’ve observed?
I really do think it is indeed a problem, and I certainly don’t feel like I’m the only one that feels the same way, with the response I’ve been getting. It seems that most of those posts I’ve posted in regards to traffic have received the most reactions by far. And with Cape, it is quite a large hub of activity in Southeast Missouri which really compounds that traffic problem, and you may be surrounded by drivers that are coming in for doctor’s appointments, shopping. But ultimately, I feel that the majority of our traffic problems are not because of infrastructure, but simply due to human error.
And that’s the thing you make fun most of, correct?
Exactly: human error. We all make mistakes, and if we can laugh at it ultimately, that’s what counts.
Bringing the “Satirical City Account” Trend to Cape Girardeau
Had you been thinking about starting it for awhile?
I had thought about it. I’m pretty sure people are somewhat familiar with the other city satire pages at this point, notably “The City of St. Louis” page created by 2 guys from St. Charles. I’m from the St. Louis area, so I can relate to that humor in that page as well, and I figured I could do that with Cape, too, but I never did anything with it until just here recently.
I’ve seen those other ones. There are similar accounts in Gordonville and Jackson, and there might be more, but are you heading these as well? Or are they some of your friends, or do you know them?
No I’ve only actually treated the “City of Cape” page. The other ones I’ve actually, it’s interesting, the other ones I didn’t start to notice until they started commenting on my page’s posts. In fact, I was kind of tricked myself. I saw that “The City of Jackson” had commented on one of my posts, informing us they wouldn’t be paying us to take our classes on navigating roundabouts. But I’m not really sure who created them, or if it’s just one person or multiple people, but it does help make the posts more entertaining at times i think.
Making Playful Humor out of City Government
I want to talk about the humor in the page. It’s really dry and it sounds like it could be making fun of a city like the fictional Pawnee of the NBC show, “Parks and Rec”. It kind of sounds like that humor, and they make fun of a city’s organization and government, really. It’s very similar to “The Onion”, also. Would you categorize yourself among a sense of humor like this? It attracts a lot of people, and it seems to be kind of a trend in comedy these days.
I definitely would categorize it along those lines. Really, these days, it seems like every other day you’re hearing about an elected official being caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing, or a city wasting money on something you feel like they shouldn’t. Well, in reality, I feel like officials like that are few and far between, and I hold no actual disdain for anyone within the government of the City of Cape GIrardeau. It’s just a type of humor that really resonates with me and my fuel also, and those who follow my page feel the same way.
So have any city officials ever contacted you?
No, I have yet to officially hear from anyone at all within the city of Cape other than their, I wouldn’t really call it an endorsement of the page, however, they are indeed aware of it - they shared a link onto their actual municipal government page last week that I just discovered yesterday, along with a very interesting Bill Murray meme.
Did you expect to get such a large following?
I didn’t really, I invited some people I was friends with on Facebook to like the page, and I was really just hoping to get some screenshot to get a laugh at my personal page. However, it seemed like people shared these posts on their own without me prompting them, and at this point, I realized: ‘Oh, this is something a lot bigger than I imagined it would be’.
Yeah. Has it opened any options for you in future situations? Are you looking at comedy writing or any kind of entertainment career options?
I always tried to be that funny guy growing up, sometimes to an annoying point. But, if you don’t try, you never know what you can put yourself up to do. I haven’t really ever considered anything professional in regards to writing or any sort of comedy. I’m actually probably the most boring major, in regards to that: business administration at SEMO. No, actually, no. It’s just kind of something I’ve done on the side. I haven’t given it much thought in other doors it could open up.
How long do you want to keep this going?
I don’t know. I’m not really for sure how long. I mean, as long as people are still following and still getting enjoyment out of the page, I feel like there’s not really going to be a shortage of material to come up with in regards to the zany things that happen within this community, and our surrounding neighbors. I just guess it would depend on the effort I put forth, and how lazy I may get.
You have to have a schedule to write every day - you’ve got to keep it going every day. Is that kind of hard to get the motivation to do that, ever?
At times, it can be. I’ve noticed I try to post at least a time or two a day, just minimum, because regardless of how humorous it may be, you have to keep something out there. That way, you have to keep people coming back; that way you keep it engaged and so involved, and give them a reason to really pay attention to what you’re doing.
Behind the Humor: A Perspective on a City’s Balancing Act
Another thing - societal problems. They can be brought to light through humor like this, it kind of pokes fun at it, as you mentioned earlier. You know, there’s always just that, there’s just a twinge of that truth behind the posts too, and that’s kind of why people follow, I think. Are there problems that you think go unaddressed from not being seen by the media, or just because they go under the radar of officials?
Honestly I feel like most problems, officials are indeed aware of. However i think many cities, cape included, lack the resources to tackle every little issue that occurs all at once. Instead they have to kind of prioritize, and pick and choose what to fix based on the resources available to them. It’s what is in the best interest of their community as a whole. Similar to how triages work in an emergency room: The larger most pertinent problems will be taken care of before smaller issues can be addressed. The only problem with that, though, is the number of problems is static. And new problems will always come up and those ones may be more pertinent to fix than the ones still waiting to be addressed.
So the ones that can’t get addressed too quickly, you’ve just got to laugh about them, huh?
Yeah, unfortunately that’s all you can do at some point. Like those pesky geese.
Cape does have its fair share of problems, but I believe everyone is trying to do the best they can, who are in a position of power to do something about it.
Is there anything else you’d like to explain with the page?
I don’t know if I’ve pointed it out or not, but I am indeed a graduate of Jackson high School, and I adore them. I’ve made fun of Jackson quite a bit here [recently]. But I encourage people, if they enjoy what they see, continue to like and share on Facebook. Share with your friends and family, and I’ll try my best to make everyone laugh, still.