An Interview with Samantha Irby - Believer Magazine
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An Interview with Samantha Irby

“If I was a positive person, I don’t know if I would be funny.”

by Niela Orr
Illustration by Tony Millionaire
header-image

An Interview with Samantha Irby

“If I was a positive person, I don’t know if I would be funny.”

by Niela Orr
Illustration by Tony Millionaire

An Interview with Samantha Irby

Niela Orr
50 Snaps

In the author photo that accompanies Samantha Irby’s new collection of essays, Wow, No Thank You. (which came out March 31, 2020), she’s wearing a black sweatshirt with the words hysterical female printed in bold white type. That phrase is just the kind of joke she’d make about herself or would use to title one of her books. Irby is a hilarious person. When she’s not writing daily recaps of Judge Mathis for her newsletter subscribers, she’s crafting acerbic, referential essays about the complexities of modern life in the jargon of the internet and what she calls her “Midwest drawl.” As such, Irby’s prose does a grapevine dance between the two generations that the author, now age forty, belongs to. She was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1980, and her writing is lithe like the old-head Chicago stepping she hopes to do as a borderline Gen Xer, and is rife with the terminology of the millennial internet. Reading her books is akin to unearthing a time capsule of Web 2.0 buried under the site of an aborted Meetup: her essays have the off-the-cuff realness of a LiveJournal, the quipiness of Twitter, and the inside allusions of cast-aside online communities like BlackPlanet.

Aptly enough, Irby, a self-proclaimed “internet joke person,” began her writing career online. She started blogging on Myspace to impress a guy she liked, and then eventually transitioned to her own blog, Bitches Gotta Eat, in 2009. Her three full-length books, all essay collections, have titles with the affect of a linguistic GIF, encompassing the angst, anxiety, hilarity, and pathos of this moment in vivid, imagistic phrases. Her first book, Meaty, published in 2013, is so named because she’d been referring to herself as a “meaty pre-corpse”; the collection gets at the corporeal joy and nastiness that come with having a body and living in the twenty-first century. Her second collection, 2017’s We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., digs into the distance of online engagement and the expectations of Irby’s newfound literary celebrity. In Irby’s work, one is just as likely to find hilarious considerations of her bad dating experiences and wry impressions of living with chronic illness and perimenopause as poignant recollections of her late father, who, as Irby writes, “would soak a loaf of bread with shoe polish and drink whatever he could filter through the loaf into a glass.” Wow, No Thank You., which she dedicates to Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, immediately connotes someone who’s over it, which is kind of ironic, because in the last couple of years, Irby’s writing has broken through.

Irby is now ubiquitous on the internet and elsewhere: you can find her byline in Time’s 2019 “Entertainer of the Year” Lizzo profile, her spunky stylishness in Warby Parker ads on YouTube and Instagram, and her name in the credits of a buzzy web television series. In 2019, Hulu dropped the first season of Shrill, the streamer’s adaptation of Lindy West’s memoir of the same name. The episode Irby wrote, “Pool,” about a writer’s internal struggles attempting to document an inclusive pool party for fat femmes, was perhaps the most critically acclaimed of the bunch. Irby’s not done with TV: a show based on Meaty is now in development at Comedy Central.

When I spoke with Irby by phone in December 2019, she unintentionally reinforced the themes that dominate her writing: contemporary ambivalence, self-reflexive humor, body philosophy. It was 3 p.m., and she was in that liminal space of mid-afternoon where the day feels over but there’s still a lot of time left on the clock. She was lounging in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, home she shares with her wife and her wife’s kids (she’s spoken about her aversion to being considered a parent or stepparent). She had been looking for a snack, and had returned from the kitchen in a panic, suddenly realizing we were scheduled to talk. When the call came in, she hastily grabbed someone’s earbuds, mingling their earwax with hers, as she pointed out. She needed to rouse her wife’s kids by 4:30, but was game to chat until then. We discussed subjects as sundry as copyediting, dance club literature, and Crohn’s disease. I laughed more than I expected to, cackling and honking in equal measure. But of course I did: she’s hysterical.

—Niela Orr

I. CLEAN AND SEATED

THE BELIEVER: There are, like, a million punk memoirs, but so few about club culture. Your experiences as a club kid are a consistent through line in your work. Your essays, alongside ones by Zadie Smith and Jia Tolentino, seem like the foundations of a new genre of memoir about club culture. Why is club culture not regarded with the same reverence as punk rock in the literary world?

SAMANTHA IRBY: Well, I don’t know if this would be a good or sociologically correct answer, but I feel like punk has the air of danger, right? It’s edgy. Everyone wants to be edgy; no one wants to talk about bumpin’ and grindin’ against a dude drenched in Drakkar Noir or Perry Ellis, which is what dudes were wearing back in my club days. [Laughter] I’m averse to most forms of danger and pain. Like, I did not want to mosh, ever, so that kind of thing never appealed to me. But it feels glamorous and dangerous to say, you know, I went to this club and got my teeth busted out or whatever. I guess it’s less sexy to be like, I went to this club, desperate to find someone to go home with, and danced with a lot people while listening to Jon B. Also, most of the time where I was going, there was all Black people, and you know mainstream culture is not trying to hear about [affecting an academic tone] “the mating rituals of young Black people in the early-to-mid-2000s.” I also don’t know if it’s the cheesiness of that era that dissuades mainstream interest: dudes in structured button-downs wearing sunglasses inside at night. Everyone wants to pretend that they like to be dirty and get vomited on. Not me; I like to be clean and seated. [Laughter]

BLVR: Nobody wants to hear about feeling a guy’s erection through his oversize jeans. The perception, at least, is that that’s less interesting than moshing and listening to Dead Kennedys.

SI: I do! I want to hear how many dudes pushed up on you while Mad Cobra’s “Flex” was playing. [Laughter] I want to bring back the renaissance of talking about the club. I’m about to be forty, so I don’t know how much true clubbing I can get away with, but I would really like to pivot to the old-people club, like the stepper set, getting dressed up for church but going to a club and listening to Al Jarreau and Frankie Beverly and Maze.

I am ready to pivot to those years, but I have such fond memories of being in dark, sweaty rooms full of music and potential. People around my age, we all have these experiences. Of course, this is pre-internet, right, where if you wanted to have sex or find someone to take you out to dinner, you had to go to the club to find them. I have such good memories of that time. Now it feels so fun and innocent. Back then, it was such a big deal and had such momentous importance. I don’t know why no one is talking about it, but I’m all here for it.

BLVR: I totally agree with you that club culture is marginalized because it’s primarily associated with people of color and also queer folks. That brings me to questions of address. You started off writing on Myspace, and you got your own blog, and now you’ve published several books. Given your start online, does the container of the print book change how you approach the writing process?

SI: My knee-jerk response is to say no. I think my writing has evolved in general. Like, not to suck my own dick—

BLVR: Please do!

SI: Let’s put it this way. I read my first two books and I’m like, Ugh, I could’ve fixed that or, I wish I could do this, or, This is not that great. And I read the green book [Wow, No Thank You.] and I can see that I’ve evolved as a writer. Maybe not even as a writer, but as a storyteller. I put the story together in a way that’s pleasing to me, but as far as adapting my style, there are things on the internet that I like to do that don’t translate very well to books. On my blog there’s all-caps and bold font; I jump paragraphs a lot and make a lot of lists. I would love to write a book that’s 100 percent like that, but you can’t, or at least I can’t. So I would say it’s as true to my blog style as it can be while being properly punctuated and making sense. I don’t have a fancy scholarly style to even switch to. There aren’t any in the new book, but I think the essays I write about my dead parents have more of what I would consider an adult style. They’re more sensitive; they’re less like vomit all over the page. But other than that, when people read my newsletter or my blog or whatever, they know me; they know what I’m talking about. I don’t have to make perfect, nice sentences. I change my style when I’m doing something for [The New York] Times, or some other place that is established and fancy; I’ll try to gild the lily a little bit, put some lipstick on the pig. But for my books, because it’s all me, I don’t ever go into it thinking, You gotta make this sound good. When I sit down, I am mostly like, You gotta make yourself laugh. I can’t make myself laugh and have a fancy tone. It’s gotta all sound like I’m just sitting and talking to you.


II. “THE PHILOSOPHER OF THE MCDONALD’S DRIVE-THRU WINDOW”

BLVR: I was reading your Lizzo profile the other day, and you write that you’re a “lifelong pessimist” who “reject[s] positivity.” Is pessimism a funnier or more interesting inclination than optimism? Or is it just in your personality to think that way?

SI: Well, I had a very hard childhood that kind of taught me early to expect the worst and hope for the best. And I have found that as a protective measure, it really does work if you keep your expectations extremely low. [Laughs] Every new relationship where I was like, This is going to be great, turned out to be bullshit. And I was thinking, You gotta go back to remembering that everything sucks and occasionally a nice, positive thing happens. I just have a general wariness, and I’ve never been any other way. I had the rug pulled out from under me early. When you go through life with sick, alcoholic parents and abuse and all that kind of stuff, it’s easier to think that way. We were super, extremely poor in a community that wasn’t, and so I’m going to school with all these kids who had computers at home and cars and stuff like that. And at the time it felt almost dangerous to be like, Yeah, something good is going to happen for me. And more realistic would be like, Well, I hope it does, but if it doesn’t, that’s OK too. I also think I enjoy being pleasantly surprised, which happens because I’m pessimistic. If I was a positive person, I don’t know if I would be funny. Probably not. Not that there aren’t very funny, happy people but, like, I don’t know. I can’t even imagine what I would be like if I had a sunny outlook, which is not to say that I’m all doom and gloom, but I really am always just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like, always. And for me it’s worked out pretty well, because I’m very good at taking a bad situation and mining it for the funny part, which I think is a gift. I’m negative, but I can also spin gold out of that negativity, which not all sad people can do. I feel very lucky.

BLVR: I can relate to that. I have some trauma in my early childhood. My dad died when I was young, and my mom was a single parent to my brother and me. She had to work, so we were in the house a lot. I ended up watching far too much BET, VH1, and MTV. I was obsessed with reality TV and stuff like it because I had to be in the house. I don’t think that I would have become a reader, or a pop-culture critic, if I wasn’t in the house so much.

SI: Me too. My mom was old, and had multiple sclerosis, and couldn’t leave the house. I was home with her all the time, and definitely because of that, I read every book. She used to subscribe to this Harlequin Romanceof–the–month club, and I read boxes and boxes of romance books. I read every Stephen King. All of the Sweet Valley Twins and [Sweet Valley] Highs, everything I could get my hands on. I read because, in general, I was an inside person. I enjoy sitting very still. [Laughs] But also just because my mom wasn’t going to go out and, like, toss a ball with me, I thought, Well, I’m going to sit here and read. I dropped out of college; any writing ability I have comes from having read so much. And it was definitely because I did not see the light of day unless I was going to school. [Laughs]

BLVR: Did the Harlequin Romances, Stephen King, and Sweet Valley High–type titles inform your reading sensibility?

SI: I am happier reading a John Grisham, page-turney James Patterson—this isn’t the same, but Gone Girl—that kind of book, than I am, like, suffering through some literature. Frankly, I don’t even really read literature. That’s not my bag. Maybe this is why I write what I do, but I like to enjoy what I’m reading. I don’t want to struggle. That’s why I did not continue my education: because it’s like, Man, I’m going to go into serious debt and try to find a place to live to read things that are too hard for me to understand? No, thank you. So I don’t know if the Harlequins formed my reading sensibility, but they did instill in me that a quick and dirty read is more pleasurable than slogging through something difficult.

BLVR: Do you remember anything in particular that you read in college that turned you off, or that seemed purposely difficult?

SI: Oh, I took an intro to philosophy class that was like that. Many other things happened that caused me to leave school. Primarily, both my parents died that year. But the reason I did not go back is… I come from clock-punching people. I was never raised with anybody telling me, You’re going to go to college. Academia is important. My parents were like, You need a paycheck and you need to get a place to live and figure it out. Also, I wasn’t having a great time with the social part of college; getting drunk with a bunch of people and losing control wasn’t really my kind of party. You don’t really get to do that once you first get there, anyway. And then I was like, What am I going to do with these classes? I’m going to take this philosophy class and then be the philosopher of the McDonald’s drive-thru window? Naw, I’m going to go get a job and work, not rack up a ton of debt. I had no idea what I would want to do with a college degree. I didn’t know what I would want to study, and I am incredibly practical. And I was like, Oh, get in a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of debt going to school to learn something I’m not passionate about, and then be stuck doing that same thing forever? I will work at a laundromat or push a broom, like, literally anything else. I will work wherever. Even now, I will go bag groceries. I don’t give a fuck. I just want to know that I’m going to get a paycheck and I can take care of my shit. I spent the whole time I was in college thinking about how I should have learned how to do hair.

I don’t think it’s a waste, if that’s what you want. If you are seventeen, eighteen, and you’re like, This is the thing I’m passionate about, or the thing I want to learn, the thing I want to become an expert in—if you know that, then, word, it’s worth it for you. For me, it was just a lateral move, because I didn’t have anything else lined up, and everyone else I was going to high school with was going somewhere. I thought I should go too. And then I left and worked in a bakery and had a series of jobs. I had written some in high school, but, like, you don’t go to school for writing, you know what I mean? You go to school to learn something that can get you paid. And also, I didn’t have a safety net, so there was no one who said, Yeah, go find yourself and we’ll be here waiting for you with a warm bed and a hot shower when you’re done. Like, nah. Once both my parents died, my sisters were like, Great, good luck to you. Hope you make something of yourself! And I thought it was time to get a job and figure my shit out. And never read a philosophy book ever again.


III. “I FORGOT ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW UNTIL, LIKE, THREE MINUTES BEFORE YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL.”

BLVR: In the first essay of Wow, No Thank You., you satirize the form of the contemporary profile. I thought a lot about that essay as I was reading your Time cover story on Lizzo. The verve for your subject totally comes through in that piece, even though you’ve got a sardonic tone toward the profile genre in your other work. Do you often end up doing things that you make fun of in your writing?

SI: Well, yes. Sometimes it cannot be avoided. I am always very intentional about punching up. I try to make fun of institutions rather than individuals, and I’m my biggest punching bag. In general, I don’t do a lot of things that I would later scoff at, because usually there’s a reason I was making fun of it. But with the Lizzo thing: Man, I’m getting a byline in Time magazine. I have to. Like, I hate traveling; I hate most things. But they said I could do it a little different. I didn’t want to ask, What time do you get up in the morning? and What’s your routine? She was drinking a Starbucks coffee, but nobody needs to know that she had a mocha whatever-it-was. You know what I mean? If I get to write it like me, then I’m OK doing it. And I kept saying to the editor, “I’m not a journalist. I don’t understand journalism rules. I’m going to ask the kind of questions I want to know the answers to. Is that OK?” I was like, “As long as you can tell me in writing that it’s OK for me to not write a highbrow journalistic piece, then I’ll do it.” And they said yes. So I did it. But usually if I make fun of something, I don’t end up doing that same thing, only because I live in a place of very deep shame, and I don’t need to add more things to feel ashamed about. [Laughs] I try to spare myself.

BLVR: In the first essay in the new book, you allude to the beats and formal tics of celebrity profiles. In your writing more generally, you poke fun at trends and rituals by making a lot of lists: wellness routines, preparation rites for nights out in the club, recipes. What is it about rituals and lists that you find so ripe for parody?

SI: I think there is a little part of me that always wishes that I was the kind of person who could keep a planner, the kind of person who knew what I was doing. I mean, I forgot about this interview until, like, three minutes before you were supposed to call. [Laughs] I was in the kitchen, like, I need to find some food, and then I’m like, Oh, shit. I have a call. Where’s my phone? I’m not even using headphones that are mine, so I’m just getting someone’s earwax all in my ear because I wasn’t prepared. And so this is gonna sound like a bigger point than I’ve actually thought about making, so forgive me if it sounds stupid, but I think one of the things you’re taught to think is that the pillars of being a good person are being clean and being organized. From kindergarten on, you’re taught to put your stuff away and pick up and be here at this time, and that is a thing that is so elusive to me, and not for lack of desire. I want to be on time and remember my phone calls, but I just can’t pull it together.

And I feel like there are a lot more people like me than there are people who are organized and put-together. So I’m sad, but I’m fascinated with people’s rituals. My wife is a very organized person, and she has her little things that she does every day. I don’t do the same thing every time, every day, ever. Let alone be like, This is my tea and I’m drinking it out of this mug and I left my shoes here. I always feel like I just woke up in a house I’ve never been in before. [Laughs] I don’t know where all my stuff is. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. I have low-level chaos around me at all times, so making fun of rituals is truly just a way to make myself and other people feel better for not being like that. And on the other end: lists. Writing a story is easy, right? You should start at A and end at Z. But sometimes there are a bunch of things I want to say but I can’t link them together in a story, and lists are a very easy way for me to just rattle things off. Lists are a good device I like to use to break things up, to pace a story more quickly than it otherwise might go.

BLVR: A recurring theme in your work—especially in your lists—is you narrativizing the experience of not wanting to do something. You write about the joy of staying in, saying no, refusing, declining invitations, oversleeping. What is the pleasure of opting out?

SI: Oh, man. For me, it’s having spent so much time feeling left out and worrying that the thing I wasn’t invited to was so great and I was just missing it. I think I reached a point in life after having gone to enough things where I realized that those other people truly aren’t having a better time than you. I feel like with age, a switch flipped and it didn’t matter that I didn’t go to that thing, ’cause that thing was probably wack. If you didn’t really want to see whoever was there or eat whatever they were eating or listen to whatever they were listening to, they definitely weren’t having a better time than you. And here’s where being a pessimist comes in handy: I can always imagine all the things that sucked about it. Like, I could go to that party, but it’s snowing. Since it’s snowing, I have to wear boots. I have boots, but I don’t like those boots. I’m going to have to wear boots and then take shoes. If I go to this party in the snow and wear boots, I’ll probably have to take my own car. Ugh, I don’t want to drive my car. I don’t want to get my car out of the driveway. When I come back, is the snow going to be piled up? Once I start really thinking about what could be bad, it’s like, No, I made the right decision to not do that thing. If you truly just start breaking everything down to the minutiae, it works, like, 99.9 percent of the time: Oh, this person I hate might show up. Or: What if they don’t have enough chairs? What if I have to talk to people I don’t like? What if people ask me too many questions? Oh, my shoes don’t feel right. My shirt doesn’t look good. You know, it’s just better to stay home.


IV. BODY NEGATIVITY

BLVR: In “Lesbian Bed Death,” from Wow, No Thank You., you write: “Sure, sex is fun, but have you ever watched a television program then read no fewer than six think pieces about it to make sure you understood what you just watched?” You wrote the “Pool” episode from Hulu’s Shrill, which is one of the best-reviewed episodes of TV of 2019—

SI: I should’ve gotten a fucking Emmy. I don’t know why I didn’t.

BLVR: [Laughs] Did you read the responses to that episode, and if you did, did they change the way you understood the episode, even though you wrote it?

SI: One of my big things is that with my books and shit, I don’t read reviews. I don’t read Goodreads. I don’t read Amazon reviews, none of that anonymous stuff. And even real reviews I don’t read. Because even if you get, like, a five-star review, they say something that just sticks in your craw, and nothing is more hurtful than, like, having a criticism play over and over on a loop in your head about a thing you can’t change. That’s the heartbreaking thing. It’s like, Man, you know, they printed twenty thousand of these; I can’t fix that thing you hate.

But with the show, it felt a little lower-stakes to me because it’s not my show; I’m not in it. It’s not based on my book. [Laughs] So it felt a little less terrifying to read what people were saying. I’m lucky in that I have my wife read everything first, and then if she’s like, “This is good. It’s actually good. There’s no, like, secret pot shots that they’re taking at you. You can read it,” then I do. So I did read a couple of things that made me so happy. But I didn’t know that it was gonna make people cry. I didn’t know that it was gonna really move people in the way that it did. I thought for sure that fat people would watch it and be like, This is excellent. And they would get everything we did. There were women from all sizes; it didn’t just stop at a size twelve, right? You’re seeing a size twenty-two in a bathing suit. You’re seeing a size thirty-two in a bathing suit: shit you just don’t get to see on TV. And I knew people were gonna see that and be like, Yes. And some people would see that and be like, Ugh, and those people can die.

But I did not expect so many people to write and say, “Hey, listen, I sobbed through that final speech the character delivers.” Or, “I showed it to my straight-size friends, and they kind of finally understood what I’ve been talking about.” I was flooded with DMs from people, and that was super gratifying. Real fat women were like, “I can’t believe I saw somebody with my body type in a bikini on, you know, fucking Hulu, not relegated to some dark corner of the web or whatever.” Like out and proud. I did read the fancy New York Times stuff, but the stuff that I read that really bowled me over was from people who watched it and were saying that seeing a fat girl in a pool floaty meant the world to them. That was incredible. That meant a lot to me.

BLVR: The first line of “Body Negativity” in the new book is so striking: “I have been stuck with a smelly, actively decaying body that I never asked for and am constantly on the receiving end of confusing, overwhelming messages for how to properly care for and feed it.” In this moment of optimization and the quantifiable self, body negativity feels like a practical yet empathetic concept that acknowledges the limits of our bodies. Is body negativity a position you find yourself adopting more, and is it a progressive stance? I think some people would confuse body negativity with body shaming, and there seems to be a distinction between those two ideas.

SI: Well, it was interesting writing it. I was thinking that someone who doesn’t understand what the fuck I’m doing is definitely going to throw some sort of tantrum about this, but if they read the piece, they’ll get it. So maybe I was being a little provocative with the title. I think people automatically assume that when I’m like, “Ugh, my body,” I’m talking about my weight, which isn’t it. I’ve had a fat body for as long as I’ve had a body; I know how to dress it and move it around; that’s fine. But I have been filled with many diseases for a long time. I have Crohn’s disease and my joints are bad. I just had jaw surgery because my teeth are falling apart and, like, I have never had a body that has worked the way it was supposed to work. And I think it’s OK to lament that. The idea that we all have to be happy with what we have is a thing that people whose shit works can say. But let the rest of us who may or may not be happy with all these problems we gotta lug around—let us complain in peace. When people tell you to be better, be positive about your body, accept yourself, blah, blah, blah, no one really talks about how many straight-up difficult things you’re supposed to do to have a body, whatever kind of body it may be. So I was like, How can I convey that without doing any research? Because I’m never going to study, ever. I was thinking I could just talk superficially about all the things you’re supposed to do for your body, starting at the top of the head. My scalp needs to be moisturized but also dry; it shouldn’t have dandruff. And my hair needs to be full and it needs to be its original color, but if it’s not its original color, I need to dye it. And my nose can’t have any hair or blackheads.

Go inch by inch down your body and think about what your nails are supposed to look like, what your teeth are supposed to look like. Your earlobes shouldn’t be too big. And it’s like, Yo, this is hard. Having these rules is almost impossible, even for someone whose job it is to look good. I don’t know how to have beautiful nail beds and get all the calcium and folic acid I need while also keeping my feet pedicured. It is just so much to do. I think we talk about it, but this essay was a way to really break it down and make it funny and point out the ridiculousness of it. Like, I don’t live the kind of life where I can worry about what the skin on my back looks like, but I’m supposed to, and that feels stressful. [Laughs] I just wanted us to all laugh at the ridiculousness of what it means to be well, ’cause I didn’t even talk about what diseases you might have and other things you have to overcome. This sort of blithe edict to love yourself is very easy for you if you are not combating eyebrow dandruff. [Laughs] For some of us, it’s hard. But also let’s just talk about all these unrealistic standards we’re sort of fed that we need to meet. I’m not shaming you. The people who tell you that you need to have smooth skin and drink twelve glasses of water a day are shaming you. I am here for you if you drink no water and only eat Cheetos Popcorn and never wash your face. That’s what this is in support of. It’s impossible to do all the stuff that TV and magazines and profiles of wealthy, famous people tell us we’re supposed to be doing to have a good life. What regular person can do it? At the end of that essay, I think I say something like “I need seven stomachs to digest all the spinach and beans I need to be eating a day.”

BLVR: You’ve called yourself an “internet joke person,” and you’ve also been described as a comedy writer and comedian. Do you distinguish between those identities at all?

SI: Oh, god. “Comedian” feels weird because I just think of stand-up, and people are always like, “Where can I see you do your comedy?” And I’m like, “Uh, Barnes & Noble, in the personal essay aisle.” [Laughter] I know so many people who do stand-up, and I would crumble if I even attempted it. So I never want to take a title I don’t deserve, and “comedian” isn’t it. People don’t say “essayist,” because they think of Joan Didion or whatever, and I don’t do that. I do like “internet joke person.” I feel like there are people who’d be like, “Don’t denigrate yourself!” but truly that’s what I do. Occasionally those jokes get printed in books, but for the most part I just write funny shit online. And “comedy writer” feels like I write for Seinfeld, and that’s not exactly what I do. If I had my druthers, my description would just be “joke person,” which kind of encompasses both what I do and what I am as a human. I’m just a bag of jokes. “Joke person” is probably the title I would want on my tombstone. Hopefully soon.

BLVR: No, no, no, no, please, no! Let’s not end on that note. [Laughter]

SI: See, I had to take it dark. It was feeling too positive and I had to ruin it.

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