Julie Klausner Sounds Off on Kermit, Tucker Max, and Other Inferior Men

Julie Klausner (c) Conrad Ventur.jpg
Photo by Conrad Ventur
Comedy writer and former Upright Citizens Brigade member, Julie Klausner has news from the frontlines - of shitty relationships. Like most of us, she spent her twenties ricocheting from douchebag to douchebag, and she reveals every crappy moment in her dating memoir I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, Felons and Others. As expected, there are tons of laugh-out-loud lines delivered from Klaunser's sharp-wit pen. More surprisingly is how cringeworthy tales of blow jobs with goths and bedbug-infested one-night stands are followed with sage observations. For instance, she points out the stark difference between guys and men. (As she writes, if Mad Men was called Mad Guys, it'd star Joe Pesci and not Jon Hamm.) 

Klausner appears this Sunday at the Miami Book Fair, so we recently spoke with her about pesky double standards, her Michael Keaton fetish, and why she's worried about teenage boys. No stranger to Miami, she's more than a little disappointed that there aren't as many Jewish delis around anymore. RIP Rascal House and Wolfie's.

I Don't Care About Your Band is being made into an HBO series by Will Ferrell's production company. Klausner will be played by Party Down's Lizzy Caplan, who she calls "deeply, grotesquely funny, not just pretty girl funny." 

Caplan seems like the perfect choice to deliver the nescassary disdain. Take Klausner's comparison of Kermit to your average, lackluster hipster: "Kermit, beloved frog of yore, suddenly, overwhelmingly, reminded my adult self of vintage-eyeglass-frame-wearing guys from Greenpoint or Silver Lake, who pedaled along avenues in between band practice and drinks with friends, sans attachment, oblivious to the impending hazards of reality and adulthood."

New Times: Speaking of dating memoirs, we just had Tucker Max come through Miami.

Julie Klausner: My condolences for the souls left in his wake.

Do you think female memoirists who are open about their sex lives are treated differently than guys who write with the same openness?

I think they get away with it richer. It's that coveted 18 to 49 male demographic. I think women appreciate when other women talk about sex. There's an element of sincerity that Tucker Max doesn't tap into. His is a version of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. When women write about sex we have a tendency to lay it bare and bleed onto the page. I'm just always impressed when a frat guy writes a book. Maybe his book is just shallow and easier to market. But I would trade bank accounts with him.

It seems like when Emily Gould wrote candidly about her sex life, she kinda got sacrificed on the media throne.

But she was also talking about a lot of stuff besides sex. People definitely accuse female memoirists of narcissism more than slutti-tude. Narcissism is held as a deeper sin. The scarlet letter is "N."

You use a lot of pop culture references in your book. You say that Kermit would make a terrible boyfriend. What fictional characters would make awesome boyfriends?

That's a really good question. Historically, leading men, at least in comedy, have featured either the feckless or the boorish: the Fred Flintstones and Bullwinkles and then useless beta males. In my book, I say date guys like Rowlf and Fozzi and not Kermit. Let me think about it.

A generation ago, John Hughes movies were the standard to replicate or rebel against. Now it's the Judd Apatow franchise. What kind of crop of youngsters are they breeding?

The comedies that I grew up with were very much about adults being adults. There was Working Girls with Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver. It's wasn't with Miley Cyrus, and Michael Cera wasn't a romantic lead. There was a separation between children and adults that I quite miss. Beyond the "kidult" thing, John Hughes had the ability to relate to women. Molly Ringwald was clearly who the writer saw himself through the filter of and that resonated.

(Thinking back to the question about which fictional character is dateable) Batman! The Michael Keaton Batman, I would like all men to be like Michael Keaton. A smart superhero. He wasn't brawn; he was bright.

Tina Fey just won the Mark Twain award for comedy. What do you think about her success with 30 Rock?

It's the funniest scripted show on television -- so joke dense. It's sketch comedy funny, not sitcom funny. Even though things are shitty for women to some extent, there is a trend towards appreciating women writing and performing in a way I haven't seen before. Whether it's Lady Gaga, who writes her own songs, or Taylor Swift - whether or not her songs are any good. There's an incredible double standard that comes along with it. Whether it was Tina losing 30 pounds to be on camera or having to look like Taylor Swift. Lady Gaga has to dress in crazy clothes and be naked to have people think she's a really good songwriter. The reality show culture of people who are famous without any talent has provided such a stark contrast to this.

What else are you working on?

I'm doing Internet shorts called the "The Cat Whisperer." I've got a proposal out for a young adult novel. I'm trying to get my tendrils to the younger sect. They're going to end up stronger -- like resistant bedbugs -- because of the shit they're going through right now. Between Internet bullying and blackout drinking and sexual pressure. Growing up around boys who think that internet porn is what sex is and pressuring them accordingly. It's not going to break them. It's going to be really shitty, and then they're going to take over the world.

It's the teenage boys I'm worried about. They're not going to college in numbers. They're going to be angry -- depending on who's coming back from the war. There are charities for girls and I'm all for that, but ultimately, the real problem is the epidemic of inferior men - which is basically what my book is about.

Is there anyone I shouldn't miss at the Book Fair?

Well, later on Sunday is Franzen.

Oh, that will be a big deal. Aimee Bender is doing something, right?

Yep, Aimee Bender. John Waters...

Oh! John Waters. I love him, he's my favorite. He is my ideal.

Meghan McCain is coming...

Ah! And her beautiful breasts?

Dave Eggers...

I know Dave! So this is a big book fair.

Yes, especially for a city that doesn't have the best reputation for literacy. We were just named the ninth dumbest city in America.

Really? Well, we'll get them in shape -- all we need is a week. Please, at least you have manatees.

See Julie Klausner this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus (300 NE Second Avenue, Room 3314, Miami). Admission is included with the $8 charge for the street fair. Visit miamibookfair.com. Check our full Miami Book Fair Guide here.

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