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Comedy Podcasting Personality Julie Klausner Chats With Us About the Internet and Her New Y.A. Novel

tech_waywithwords.jpg In 2013, anyone with fingers and a keyboard can have a "voice" on the Internet. But New York-based comedian Julie Klausner has one worth your attention. Klausner's much-loved podcast How Was Your Week -- which features interviews with comedy icons like Amy Poehler and Joan Rivers, as well as notable filmmakers, authors and musicians -- begins with a stream-of-consciousness monologue recorded in her SoHo apartment. Klausner touches on pop culture topics like film ("The women in Edward Scissorhands are far too horny considering the realities of life and sexuality"), and reality TV (she refers to the Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger as a "monster python woman") with a lightning-quick wit. And for good measure, she'll throw in updates about her tuxedo cat, Jimmy Jazz. It's like a one-sided phone conversation with the friend you wish you had, or could be.

Klausner is equally entertaining on Twitter and in her riotous Real Housewives recaps for New York magazine's vulture.com, a site she also makes videos for. (A recent clip featured her at the Bravo upfronts asking reality stars about North Korea.) Author of a 2010 memoir about the woes of dating in her 20s, called I Don't Care About Your Band, Klausner's now tackling Y.A. lit with her new book Art Girls Are Easy, a novel about life at an upper-crust summer art camp. Here, we chat with her about her podcast, the new book and getting blocked by NCIS stars on Twitter.

You've been doing How Was Your Week since 2011. Have you seen the show change since you started it?

I think I have more confidence as a monologist and in myself as a draw, rather than feeling this pressure to book lots of celebrity guests. Sometimes celebrities aren't the most interesting people to talk to. I try to keep it balanced so that I have guests who are reasonably diverse and so that it stays a comedy podcast. I think if my monologue is funny and if I'm a funny person, then that's enough. Not every comedy podcast has to be comedians shooting the shit with each other.

It seems like your show has a real appreciation for fandom -- whether that's reflected in your choice to interview guests you admire or guests who love very specific, interesting things.

I try to target guests with a certain focus, whether they have a story to tell, or want to talk about something they're really passionate about -- just having that structure makes it so much more satisfying for a listener. I love talking to authors and filmmakers. It's an opportunity I have as a fan to get my questions answered. It's probably selfish of me to use the show for that.

You've talked on How Was Your Week about celebrities who have blocked you on Twitter. Who has blocked you?

[NCIS actress] Pauley Perrette. I was covering a dog show for Vulture and I asked her if she was drunk and if she was going to steal any of the dogs and try to take them home in her dress. Then the [dog show] publicist came up to me and said, "We've gotten complaints from people." And I was like, "What are they?" And she said, "We heard that you're asking people if they're drunk and taking home dogs in their dresses." And I was like, "OK, those are clearly from Pauley Perrette." Then she tried to get me kicked out of the dog show. That didn't happen, but ever since then she's been my sworn enemy. I also discovered that her Twitter is idiotic. It's just the ramblings of this random woman who completely won the lottery and got cast on this show and probably makes more money than I could ever think about. I agree with her politics -- she's all for gay rights and animal rights, which is great -- but in terms of what she has to say, she's the living embodiment of why nobody should ever listen to an actor. What does it matter what they have to say? She has no sense of humor. But that's pretty much my only celebrity Twitter feud.

Do you love Twitter for that reason? For its transparency when it comes to celebrities?

Oh yeah. I love Twitter for so many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons has to do with the access that you have to celebrities' brains. Twitter helps to strip celebrity of its veneer, and I think it encourages a more participatory pop culture. I think that celebrities who are savvy about their Internet presence come across as being way more intelligent and cool than they actually are. Being Twitter-savvy is surpassing more traditional skills in the celebrity world, like being beautiful or having talent, or other things that we tend to love celebrities for.

Beyond that, I love Twitter because it's just really fun. I don't think I can go for more than two days without tweeting and not get depressed. Which is a depressing thing to say out loud, but it's true. Twitter is like a lever that a lab rat presses in its cage to get a dopamine jolt. It's really good to just turn your head off and the Internet off and write for an hour a day, but when you're not doing that, for whatever self-indulgent and frustrating reason, and you're like, "OK, I'm going to write a sentence and then I'm going to reward myself by checking Twitter," there's something about that 140-character limit and that constant stream that really does feel like dope. There's a readily available quality to it, a quality of instant access. You have a joke, you tweet a joke and you get a response right away. It's very addictive.

What do you think about people whose Twitter accounts have helped them get book deals, or other big jobs?

I think Twitter is a good way to get attention, but that doesn't necessarily lead to work. The things that have always led to work are experience, having relationships, having samples of writing, having a good reputation, being professional and putting in the hours to get good at something when you're starting out, without expecting to be paid for it. Those are the things that get people jobs. Twitter's just another platform for attention and it's a good showcase for jokes. But it's good to be doing other work besides tweeting if you want it to lead to more than that.

The protagonist in your book Art Girls Are Easy is 15 years old. Did adolescence and the Internet overlap for you at all?

I was around 18 when the Internet came around so I didn't have access to it. Thank God.

Why did you decide to do a Y.A. novel?

My agent basically talked me into it by assuring me that Y.A. novels are really dirty now. They're not like when we were growing up and reading Judy Blume. I read the first Gossip Girl book around this time and thought, "Wow, this is really good. It's really satirical -- like American Psycho without the murdering." It wasn't what I thought of as typical teenage fiction. I had an idea for a story set at an art camp and I tried to draw on my experiences of being the age of my target audience, and to remember how much it sucked to not have the agency and autonomy and freedom that you have as a grown-up.

What were you like as a teenager?

My nightmares are either about my teeth falling out or being back in middle school. Actually, as I get older, they're about being back in college, but the worst dreams are about middle school. Those are the hardest years, if only because that's the time that your body and your brain are changing at this astronomical rate, and you're hormonal and basically just psychotic. And on top of that so much is expected of you. You have to create your identity and say goodbye to childish things and you also have this burning sexuality that you have no idea what to do with. It really is the height of powerlessness. At that age, I had a whole brooding world in my head. I would just completely zone out and go into my head and fantasize about what it would be like if I were older and my life was different and I could have sex with anybody I wanted. That felt so much better than being present and in the moment.  Nobody needs to be present for every moment of 7th grade.

Did you go to camp?

I did. I went to a traditional camp when I was 10 that I really hated -- there was canoeing and color war, sleeping bags and campfires, and that was just a complete nightmare to me. I was not emotionally or socially prepared for that. And then I went to an artsier camp but it was in no way like the camp that's in this book.

The camp in the book is attended by wealthy Manhattan teenagers and has ridiculous amenities like "the Cindy Sherman Snack bar."

I wanted to make sure there were some jokes in there for people will get them. But I hope that younger readers who maybe don't get those references will still be interested in looking them up. When I was growing up, even if I didn't get a reference, I was always curious about it. I remember watching a lot of British comedy when I was in high school. They would joke a lot on the Young Ones about stuff I didn't get -- like a mention of Felicity Kendal would get a huge laugh from the audience. I was like, "I don't know who that is, but it must be funny" and then I'd do the research later because I was a nerd and curious. I hope those references are Easter eggs for the nerdier or more obsessive readers.

You're also currently the head writer for an MTV show called Blogger Girls.

That's what the pilot was titled but it's not going to be called that anymore. It's a talking head show starring awesome chicks like Shelby Fero, Esther Povitsky and Sasheer Zamata who have good Internet presences and are funny and charming. It's about themes that are universal to the girls of MTV's demographic.

It seems like there's so much more media out there for girls in that age range, with sites like Rookie and, from the sounds of it, this show.

Everything that I see now, with girls coming into their own and being self-aware is so encouraging. Their abilities, their imaginations and their sense of what's cool and what's not cool. It's blossoming at the same rate as the technology that's there to facilitate it. It's incredibly exciting. Boys, I think, are in a little bit of trouble.

Art Girls Are Easy is out now as an e-book and in paperback June 1st.

Hair by Kyle Malone for Next Artists / Makeup by Margina Dennis.

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