Photo credit: Andrew Max Levy
Describe your latest book.
My book is called Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs
. It’s a book about hot dogs, via a road trip I took across the country with my ex-boyfriend and pets during the summer of 2021. I hope you’ll think it’s funny and learn about hot dogs and become a socialist (me vibes) or a vegan (not me vibes) or both after reading it. It’s about the hot dog’s history, dating back to the primordial sausage, through the industrial labor and animal rights nightmare that is the meatpacking industry past and present, and via the small businesses and people I encounter on our journey. Highlights include a thorough detour into one of my favorite topics of all time, women’s professional hot dog eating rivalries, and whether people are fucking on the Oscar Meyer wienermobile or not (they are). It’s also a reflection on a relationship and an eating disorder that objectively were not working, across a country that was aggressively ignoring the plague. I can’t believe they let me write it and I hope you enjoy it.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Getting a copy of The Bad Beginning
from my dad when I was in third grade truly changed my life, which is kind of funny to think about now. I was never a Harry Potter kid (a leaning that has aged exceptionally well), and dropped the series entirely when I found the Baudelaires, kids that were constantly disbelieved by the usually incompetent, often-patronizing-if-well-meaning adults around them with nothing but their passions and each other to ensure their survival. I was medically obsessed with A Series of Unfortunate Events
— I wouldn’t get diagnosed with severe OCD until I was in my 20s, but I had a dedicated binder full of notes I would take on the books, and the hundreds of references that Lemony Snicket made to other
books and movies and people I’d never heard of but couldn’t google on the public library computer fast enough. It was my introduction to unreliable narrators, dark humor, kids who experienced the world without allies, and provided a roadmap of other books that changed my life down the line. I still pick them up often.
When did you know you were a writer?
I was medically obsessed with A Series of Unfortunate Events — I wouldn’t get diagnosed with severe OCD until I was in my 20s, but I had a dedicated binder full of notes I would take on the books, and the hundreds of references that Lemony Snicket made to other books and movies and people I’d never heard of but couldn’t google on the public library computer fast enough.
My instinct is to be like, I’m not! Who’s anything! But I have a really strong sense memory of being in the eighth grade and finishing this first big writing project, a sequel to The Wizard of Oz
(it turns out there’s a hundred canonical sequels but THIS ONE WAS MINE) and being so excited. I’d googled how long a book should be, and it was one word longer than that. It was late, I wasn’t supposed to be on the computer, I took my back brace off after my mom went to bed and Degrassi
was on TV. The very earnest answer is that! That was definitely it.
What does your writing workspace look like?
Oh. Honestly, finding out what anyone’s writing space is structured like feels like a personal attack. It’s like reading the Mark Wahlberg interview about waking up at 3 a.m. I bought a desk to "build" a year and a half ago and didn’t build it.
Generally, I write wherever I am, and favor my living room or the food court at the mall. My best friend was on a long crusade
for me to purchase a couch that didn’t break every forty minutes you sat on it (one of those violent little "green velvet" ones on the spindly legs from Wayfair), which I eventually did. The new couch rocks, although it’s covered in blankets because my cat Flea is determined to shred it. I got it because my best friend insisted (she was right) and I met someone I wanted to have sex with on a couch that definitely wouldn’t break (this was a good idea and it went well).
And I want to shout out the mall food court! Or the public library. Writing at a coffee shop doesn’t work for me anymore. I get stressed out, feeling like I’m performing writing for other people who are performing writing. The wifi is better at the mall and the library and no one cares you exist. Also, there’s the little cream cheese rangoons from Panda Express (at the mall, though I’ve not experienced pushback when bringing them into the library). Also, my laptop lost the “T” key last spring, so I’m using a Bluetooth keyboard. Gear is for losers!!
What do you care about more than most people around you?
Public transit in Los Angeles and whether I live or die.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Recently, I was performing on a cruise ship for the first time in what basically amounted to a conference room and the event after me was a "group foot massage," which I learned from the booker had to have its event description adjusted from "clean-ish feet required" to "clean feet required." This was a fun, full circle moment because I have a vested, sideline interest in maintaining my perfect five-star rating on Wikifeet. I celebrate the community! Sorry.
Tell us something you're embarrassed to admit.
I have a vested, sideline interest in maintaining my perfect five-star rating on Wikifeet.
Oh! I guess that I check my own Wikifeet page that often, but to be fair they’re literally obsessed with me.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
I just got introduced to a poet named Alexandra Martinez, who wrote a really special collection called Heartbreaker
about caretaking for, and ultimately losing, her mother while using Tom Petty’s music for support. It’s so beautiful, and I recommend it to everyone. I met her through an equally incredible poet, musician, and person, Sadie Dupuis, whose new work Cry Perfume
is incredible. I can’t wait for Melissa Lozada-Oliva
’s first novel next year. Hunter Harris
’s culture writing is one of the most rock-steady parts of my life. Sarah Marshall’s Believer piece on serial killers
is so special, as is Karen Han’s book on Bong Joon Ho’s work
that came out late last year. I don’t feel comfortable recommending men's work at this time! But if I did, it would be all four volumes of @dril tweets
I bought for other people and then kept for myself.
Besides your personal library, do you have any beloved collections?
My house is full of shit, tchotchkes if that makes it sound less like shit, which it is. I love shit, though. One of the most valuable things an ex-boyfriend introduced me to was the idea of “zoobs,” how he pronounced "souvenirs" when he was a kid and his mom traveled a lot. For every trip I take, I bring home a zoob to remember it by, making my house full of little pieces of trash that I have strong connections to in place and time. I get a lot of wonderful gifts from people who come to shows when I’m on the road, too — a crocheted hot dog in Minneapolis last weekend is already held in its glory on my mantel.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
One of my first jobs in Los Angeles was working as a research assistant at Playboy Magazine
. I really loved that job, they were very supportive of my comedy and writing, they looked the other way when I used their industrial printers to print my own zines and, at one point, nudes, and they fired me on my birthday. 10/10.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
A literary pilgrimage is wherever I randomly expense something I shouldn’t, legally, so yes, I am constantly making "literary pilgrimages" to CVS.
What scares you the most as a writer?
Failure, and plane crashes.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
backwards. It sounds like a fantasy novel. I could adjust my life accordingly.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
First and most importantly, the “fucking the text man for texts” tweet from @FabDLT_ that is the best distillation of judging people of all time.
Also, Logan Roy saying, “You know what’s my favorite passage from Shakespeare? Take the fucking money.” Also, this couplet from Edward Gorey that I really romanticized as a middle schooler and try to embody from time to time, from The Fatal Lozenge
Share a sentence of your own that you're particularly proud of.
I really do think describing the president of the California Adventure raw fucking me above Cars World at Disneyland is pretty good.
Describe a recurring or particularly memorable dream or nightmare.
What's your biggest grammatical pet peeve?
Nothing, I’m an adult.
Do you have any phobias?
I hate scrambled eggs. I hate how they smell and taste and feel in your mouth and that everyone assumes that you’ll probably like them. I don't like food that feels like it’s been eaten already. I like my food to have its makeup on. But if someone I love doesn’t know that and makes them anyway, I’ll probably eat it.
Name a guilty pleasure you partake in regularly.
If it doesn’t hurt anybody, I refuse to feel guilty about consuming any kind of media. So much of my work falls under that umbrella, and I’m really proud of it and have fun making it. So, I reject the question!
But given what you appear to want me to be embarrassed by, I will recommend: YouTube channels Mike’s Mic
(especially the one where he re-orders the alphabet
, Batala’s ASMR
(I LOVE ASMR except for mouth sounds), Naomi Cannibal
, Mina Le
, Broey Deschanel
, and Todd in the Shadows
; the pods Las Culturistas
and Who? Weekly
; Substacks from Hunter Harris
and Allie Jones
; anything Sarah Marshall
does; Cathy Guisewite’s entire body of work
and Nancy comics by Olivia Jaimes
; my favorite radio story about a family mystery involving who gouged the eyes out of the Hanson posters by Steven Jackson; MINIONS; the feminist novels written by Nh. Dini
, the mother of the creator of the Minions.
What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
If it doesn’t hurt anybody, I refuse to feel guilty about consuming any kind of media.
My friend, the wonderful comedian and writer Christina Catherine Martinez
, told me that you should always have pieces of yourself that are just for you. When I finally listened to it years later, it completely changed my life.
Write a question of your own, then answer it.
Q: Which TV celebrity staged a social media campaign to save your kitten and his siblings from being killed in a shelter before you adopted him?
A: Dan Levy! Thanks, Dan Levy!
Top 5 Books I Put on the Shelf Attached to My Bed’s Headboard So My Boyfriend Has to Look At Them in Vulnerable Moments as a Little Experiment:
The Amityville Horror
, Jay Anson
The Chicken Man with the 50-Year Plan
, Albert Okura
, Tori Telfer
Are You Allergic?
, William G. Crook, M.D.
Escape from Incel Island
, Margaret Killjoy
This is a great way to find out if someone is terminally horny, really loves you, or (best case scenario) both!
÷ ÷ ÷
is a comedian, Emmy-nominated TV writer, and podcaster. She's worked as a staff writer on Teenage Euthanasia
, Robot Chicken
, and Star Trek: Lower Decks
, and wrote and starred in her own web series for Comedy Central. She writes and hosts popular limited-run podcasts — My Year In Mensa
(2019), Lolita Podcast
(2020), Aack Cast
(2021), and Ghost Church
(2022) — and cohosts, with screenwriter Caitlin Durante, a podcast on the How Stuff Works Network called The Bechdel Cast
. She has her baby teeth bronzed and loaded into a slingshot. Raw Dog
is her first book.