After reading just three pages, I knew I had to recommend Jessi Klein’s memoir to, like, everyone I know.The stand-up comic turned TV scribe (she’s currently executive producer and head writer on Inside AmySchumer) had managed to do the near-impossible: make me laugh out loud (in public!) and feel completely understood as well as weirdly emotional (again, in public!). Her collection of essays—which covers everything from ex-boyfriends to wedding-dress shopping to the trials of being a “tom man”—is that rare bird of a book about the female experience that feels like a peek inside someone’s diary yet is movingly universal. (Her chapter about getting engaged is worth the price of admission alone.)
The Emmy winner chatted with me over the phone from Los Angeles, and while, yes, she’s as warm and lovely as her writing makes her seem, there is one egregious part in the book that I knew I had to get right to:
You write that you’re the only person in the world who doesn’t have the hots for Brad Pitt. Surely that’s an error?
“Here’s the thing: I have Clive Owen; I have Joaquin Phoenix. I’m just less into pretty and more into someone who looks like they got punched in the face at some point. You’ve read the book; my type is not that type. I’m obviously in the minority because Brad Pitt has made a very nice career out of being generally considered the hottest man in the world. He’s going to be fine without me. But I’m sure he’ll reach out.”
Fact check: Is that actually you on the cover?
“It’s me! That’s my first-grade school photo.”
Have you thought about what it might be like walking through an airport and seeing your book with your first-grade photo on the cover?
“I haven’t allowed myself to dream about being at, like, the Delta terminal at LaGuardia. Writing this book was a long uphill climb, and it having a cover and a picture, and being in a store, is something I didn’t even really think about until maybe two months ago. I was just trying to be like, ‘Oh, I hope I’m writing something that isn’t terrible, and I hope I don’t run out of things to say before I reach my contractual minimum-word limit.’”
You actually had your son midway through writing this book. Did you think about him reading it?
“I wrote the last third when he was a newborn, so even if people hate it—‘Fuck you! I wrote it after I had a baby!’ But for me, in order to be as vulnerable and as honest as possible, I had to not think about anybody reading it. I had to put what people might think about it—including, later on, my son— out of my head. Having done stand-up, I’m kind of used to oversharing, and I have a barometer of never wanting to do anything really hurtful. Obviously the exception is Brad Pitt. I really went there with that.”