Samantha Irby is your new favorite blogger. Edgy and self-deprecating, hers is the voice of an astute outsider compelled to set the rest of us straight. Whether frankly discussing her struggles with Crohn’s Disease, riffing on the subject of lesbian crushes or writing poignantly about her childhood, Irby is fearless in her pursuit of humorous, sometimes horrifying truth. She spoke with AfterEllen about life as a blogger, feminism and Meaty, her new book of essays.
AfterEllen: You started out blogging. To what do you attribute the significant following you’ve attracted?
Samantha Irby: I’m really fucking funny. Plus i’m not an asshole. And I post pretty consistently. That’s the magic formula.
AE: How does your writing persona differ from your actual personality?
SI: In real life I don’t say “motherfucker” nearly as much as I do in my blog.
AE: Who are your influences?
SI: Funny people I love: Issa Rae, Retta, Franchesca Ramsey, Freshalina, Phoebe Robinson, Monique, Aisha Tyler, Janeane Garofalo, Mindy Kaling, Paul Mooney, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, Cameron Esposito, Ever Mainard, Rebecca O’neal, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart. So many others.
AE: Your writing is incredibly honest. Do you ever second guess what you’ve chosen to share?
SI: Not ever. Except maybe I will a little once my boss gets his preordered “Meatbook.” In the book, I talk a lot about masturbating, and how much I love it, and it’s both disconcerting and hilarious to imagine my bossman reading that shit. Especially with the visual. But oh well. I’m sure he does it, too. (Ew, barf.)
AE: Readers feel a kinship with you because of how open you are. What sort of awkward situations has that led to?
SI: I embrace all awkwardness, all too-personal encounters. Girls bum-rushing me at the bar, weird emotional emails that make me cry for other people’s pain, ALL OF IT. I’ve been approached so many times on the street that it doesn’t freak me out at all anymore. The two best instances: once I was being interviewed and a woman came up to mm and I TOTALLY LOOKED FAMOUS and another time I was approached by some fans while on a date. I pretty much told a dude, “Oh yeah. You want to fuck me.”
AE: What would readers be surprised to know about you?
SI: That I don’t hate EVERYTHING. Just most things. And I’m way nicer than everyone expects.
AE: How did your book come to be?
SI: 1. Ugh I never wanted to write a book. I don’t know that I ever want to work on another. But I’d been writing and performing for a while, and one of my friends in the Chicago lit scene was an editor at Curbside Splendor, my publisher, and she was like, “Dude, you should put out a book.” It was for real that easy. 2. The book is a collection of personal essays that mostly center around my many physical and emotional disabilities and pooping all the time—gross out humor for the marginally grown up.
AE: Tell me why a site devoted to lesbians and pop culture should care about your book.
SI: Girl, I don’t know. You can’t even make people care about the homeless, and they are actually in need of support. Um, because I have a vagina? And I write about it a lot? Lesbians have vaginas, right? It’s a prerequisite? I also had a mom, do lesbians have moms?
Do they like cheeseburgers? Do they date terrible people sometimes? Do they laugh at dumb shit on the internet? Do lesbians poop?! Those are the things I like. And that’s pretty much what I write about. So if you like eating food and laughing at jerks, even if you are the jerk in question, then you might be interested in my book.
AE: In one of your blog posts you write about trying to figure out if you were on a date with a lesbian or just hanging out with her. It seemed like you were open to the idea, but what are the pros and cons for you?
SI: This is pretty loaded and I don’t want to piss off an online community of lesbians, so I will stick to the pros and cons of that particular experience. PROS: she’s awesome and funny and caring, plus she has nice lips and really good boobs. CONS: 1. She’s too smart for me. 2. She’s so selfless and compassionate that it makes me feel like a bad person. And 3. She is prettier than I am and F that. We’re still friends, because that shit was decidedly NOT a date. She crushed my heart under her mid-priced high heeled riding boot. It was devastating.
AE: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
SI: I love paying more at the dry cleaners, so no. Just kidding. yes times a billion.
AE: Care to weigh in on the whole are women funny debate?
SI: When people say women aren’t funny what they’re really saying in a way is that joy and pleasure and the agency to affect someone in that primal and profound way is the province of men. It’s simple and misogynistic in the most basic way, and it’s the quite possibly the most untrue thing ever.
AE: And what about rape jokes? Do they have a place?
SI: If you want to make light of your own, that’s your right. Anyone else’s is off limits.
AE: What advice would you have for wannabe bloggers?
SI: Get a job. A real job that pays well and hopefully has benefits. And maybe a retirement plan. Blogging for a living isn’t a real thing for most humans who actually need food and clothing and other tangible items to live. Also, it’s stressful to try and make your passion and/or creative outlet make money for you. Stress is for suckers. If you have gross pop-up ads on your blog how much do you make per click? $.0007?! (Just a guess. I don’t have ads on my blog.) GO TO WORK.