It started with a tweet.
Back in May, when violent weather began ravaging the country, Pittsburgh comedian Davon Magwood took to Twitter and posted a joke: "I bet if you burned down the westboro baptist church the tornados in the midwest would stop ... I just have a feeling they will."
With that, Bloomfield resident Mr. Magwood, 27, joined an ever-growing group of "sinners" who have caught the attention of the controversial Kansas-based hate group. According to the Westboro Baptist Church website, it has staged more than 50,000 protests since the early 1990s, including a picket of Fred Rogers' memorial service here in 2003.
The group recently announced the possibility of picketing the funeral of "Glee" star Cory Monteith, who died last weekend.
"I was expecting my fan base to see it, and they'd get the irony and then it would just be another day," said Mr. Magwood, who has more than 33,000 followers.
A day later, @GodsH8TheWorld, a Westboro follower, responded with: "We pray that God pours out great wrath on the evil city of Pittsburgh #WaitForIt #WaaaaitForIt."
Mr. Magwood then suggested the group could come here: "But who knows, maybe some babies or soldier funerals will need picketing that day. cowards."
The back-and-forth continued until Mr. Magwood, who is appearing at Club Cafe Aug. 10, invited church members to attend his show. This prompted notice from @WBCSays, which chronicles the official day-to-day affairs of the group on Twitter.
"I said, 'All right, I'll have tickets for you, and they said, 'No, we are coming to picket,' " Mr. Magwood said.
The Schenley High School graduate said he welcomes the prospect of having what amounts to the ultimate hecklers showing up at his door: "I'm pumped that it happened."
Mr. Magwood said his show that night will be taped at Club Cafe with the intent of putting out a DVD. A sampling of his R-rated humor can be found on YouTube.
During the course of the argument on social media, Mr. Magwood used the hashtag #GodHatesJags. It was a play on words, combining a slogan used on signs by the Westboro Baptist Church and the quintessential Pittsburgh put-down, calling someone a "jagoff."
"When I'm on tour in other cities and I'll say, 'You're a jagoff,' they get that it's an insult. It can be offensive; that's what I love about using 'jagoff,' it's all in how you say it."
In a further dig, Mr. Magwood got together with friends who run Commonwealth Press, which prints and markets T-shirts. The "GOD HATES JAGS" shirt sells for $20 at www.cwpress.com, and part of the proceeds benefits Pittsburgh's Gay and Lesbian Community Center.
Mr. Magwood said that on one hand, getting caught up in the conflict and being mentioned on Huffington Post for it has been good: "I'm glad they're paying attention ... and a lot of that money is going to the GLBT in Pittsburgh.
"But I also have to get people to remember there is a show that day, too."theater - mobilehome
Maria Sciullo: email@example.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published July 17, 2013 4:00 AM