Interview: Samantha Irby, Author Of 'Wow, No Thank You.' Irby's new essay collection is Wow, No Thank You. She says it was inspired by moving from Chicago to Kalamazoo and feeling like a fish out of water, with no friends and a strange house.
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Samantha Irby: 'This Is The Glamorous Life Of A Writer"

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Samantha Irby: 'This Is The Glamorous Life Of A Writer"

Samantha Irby: 'This Is The Glamorous Life Of A Writer"

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Let's ask Samantha Irby to introduce herself...

SAMANTHA IRBY: (Reading) I occasionally write jokes on the Internet for free because I'm the last person on Earth who still has a blog. Sometimes I have freelance projects, but there's nothing right now. No one is going to pay me to write another book about nothing for at least the next two years. Unfortunately, I don't have anything new or exciting to say online and absolutely zero paying scams. So my heart sinks as it dawns on me that I've gotten up and gotten dressed just to read what other people are saying on Twitter. This is the glamorous life of a writer.

SIMON: ...The writer of the B****** GOTTA EAT blog. And, boy, I wish it had another name, but there you go...

IRBY: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...And the bestselling "We Are Never Meeting In Real Life" has a new collection of essays. Her work has been acclaimed for its bite, raunch and remarkable confessions. She's been called a side-splitting polemicist for the most awkward situations. Her new book - "Wow, No Thank You." And Samantha Irby joins us from Kalamazoo, Mich. Thanks so much for being with us.

IRBY: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Your devoted fans know some of the most intimate details about you because you hold nothing back. But what would you like our listeners to know?

IRBY: Oh, that despite how maybe gross and offensive my work may seem on the surface that it really is accessible for lots of different types of people, that, like, don't be scared by what people say about it. Give it a try.

SIMON: Yeah. I'm glad I did.

IRBY: (Laughter).

SIMON: Like me, you're from the North Side of Chicago. And so to purloin a famous line from "Blazing Saddles," what's a sophisticated urbanite like you doing in Kalamazoo, Mich.?

IRBY: Well, I moved here because my wife already lived here, and I was really resistant because I hate change. But once you see what it costs to live in a town like Kalamazoo, it was pretty easy to make the choice, especially since I'm a writer and, you know, that notoriously pays absolutely nothing (laughter). So in order to keep writing my jokes that don't pay very much, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

SIMON: And also it occurred to me as I was reading your book, you know, some of the great humor writing has always been by the fish out of water, isn't it? And that's what you are in Kalamazoo now.

IRBY: Yeah. When I sat down to, like, write an outline for what I wanted to do this time, I think every essay I thought of was a different way to complain about having moved and not having any friends in the new place and not knowing how to live in a house after having lived in apartments for most of my life. So I didn't set out to be a fish out of water, but I looked around and was like, well, this is it. I'm going to write about it.

SIMON: Yeah. You're very open in this collection of essays about - I think you refer to yourself as a high-functioning depressed and anxious person. Now, the person I've been talking to sounds funny, open and delightful.

IRBY: Well, those are the words that describe me the best (laughter). You know, I can talk to you and, like, be charming and have fun. And this is great. And then, like, I have to lie down and I will be anxious about every dumb thing I've said truly until it airs (laughter). So it's negative self-talk and inertia that is easy to hide from other people.

SIMON: Yeah. I got to pose a question to you that you posed to yourself midway through the book.

IRBY: OK.

SIMON: You ask yourself, am I ever going to stop writing the horror movies I have been starring in since the day I was born?

IRBY: (Laughter) I mean, eventually, there's going to be zero demand for my stuff. And the day that happens, that's it. I'm going to go bag groceries or work at the gas station or wherever will hire me. I'm very realistic about everything having a shelf life, especially when you are a writer who writes about herself. And when that day comes, I will happily close up shop and be like, we've had a good run. Essays - we're done. Onto the next thing.

SIMON: You know, there'll always be a market for funny. You are very funny.

IRBY: Thank you. That is so - I mean, that's nice of you to say, but we got to be realistic. Let's - 10 years, I'll be 50, and are people really going to want to listen to a 50-year-old lady complaining about her swollen ankles? I don't know. If they are, I'll keep it up, you know? If they're like, oh, no, your time is done, then I will realistically accept that and go do something else.

SIMON: Let's make a date 10 years from now. Let's make a date. Ten years from now, I'm going to laugh at you, OK? Going to laugh with you.

IRBY: (Laughter) With, at - I'll take either. I'll take it.

SIMON: Samantha Irby - her book, "Wow, No Thank You." But despite what you say, thanks so much.

IRBY: (Laughter) Thank you. This was incredible.

(SOUNDBITE OF ENEMIES' "BACKACHES AND CARDIGANS")

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