On Twitter, a peanut gallery mocks the Oscars

During the Oscars, a separate entertainment experience plays out on social media: a running commentary by comedians and fans.

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You can simply tune into the Oscars. Or you can watch them with the peanut gallery on Twitter.

While Hollywood grandly celebrates itself, a freewheeling cacophony of quips and sarcasm will provide a riotous counter narrative to the pomp.

The second-screen experience is never better than on Oscar night, when a separate entertainment experience plays out on social media. The running commentary, in which comedians and others parody the glamorous stars and their sometimes laughable speeches, has become as central to the Academy Awards as the red carpet.

“Following the Oscars on Twitter is like watching the show with a hundred million of your (rowdiest) friends,” says Andy Borowitz, the humorist and author who’s often been a standout tweeter on Oscar night.

Last year, he succinctly summarised the previous two best-picture winners, The King's Speech and The Artist, as "an English dude who couldn't speak" and "a French dude no one could hear".

“You gotta say something; someone has to say something,” says the comedian Billy Eichner. “To just stand by and watch it happen is almost too tense. It’s cathartic. You’ve got to just get it out on Twitter because, if not, we’re all going to be bottled up thinking about how awkward Anne Hathaway made it for a billion people in real time. I don’t begrudge her the award. I’m just saying she’s a ridiculous person.”

Eichner says nothing is funnier “than the mix of ego and lack of self-awareness, exemplified in Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech”.

The Oscars have become one of the biggest social media events of the year.

Last year's telecast set a record for 18,718 tweets per second. A statuette could be handed out for a new award: Most Tweeted Tweet. In 2011, that honour went to The Onion, which lamented: "How rude – not a single character from Toy Story 3 bothered to show up."

This year, the academy has partnered with Twitter to track the top categories with an index measuring the percentage of positive tweets about the nominees.

Leading so far wasn't the favourite, Argo, nor was it Lincoln, but rather Silver Linings Playbook. So if the film wins, Twitter will have predicted it. – AP