February 2010

Jessica Ferri

nonfiction

I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated by Julie Klausner

I usually approach funny-girl memoirs with outright disdain, partially because I think some of these books contribute to the misogynist literary community not taking women writers seriously, and also because I am mad jealous. Yes, I am, because I am cut from the exact same cloth as Julie Klausner (albeit mine is the goy version). I can think of about ten thousand female friends off the top of my head who would love for their funny memoir to be published. Some of them have been published. My point is: I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy Julie Klausner’s new book, I Don't Care about Your Band.

2009 was a tough year. It was more than tough. It was Fascist, balls-to-the-wall evil. Since its passing, my usual “I want to watch Holocaust movies or films featuring genital mutilation” self has morphed into a tired person who just wants to laugh. And Julie Klausner’s book is funny. She won me in the first few pages when she christened Kermit the Frog as a hipster-dude. “Kermit, beloved frog of yore, suddenly, overwhelmingly, reminded my adult self of vintage-eyeglass-frame-wearing guys from Greenpoint or Silver Lake, who pedaled along avenues in between band practice and drinks with friends, sans attachment, oblivious to the impending hazards of reality and adulthood.” And Miss Piggy, his ever faithful Miss Piggy, Klausner casts as the über-fabulous, funny, gorgeous, and brash woman who falls for the lame dude. Not only has Klaunser made us laugh, she has also delivered serious and relevant commentary on the state of gender relations. From He’s Just Not That into You to The Rules, women have been trying to figure men out for centuries. Why didn’t he call me back? Should I text him or not? Is he an asshole, or just stupid? Mix the most beautiful, smartest, wittiest women you know with hipster dudes who are thin enough to be your younger sister and better dressed than you who won’t return your phone call, and blam, welcome to relationships and dating 2010. The cool thing is, Klausner writes further than memoir territory -- she steps up to the plate, offering solace and good advice: “If you want to be the star of a show [like Miss Piggy], you should make your own effing show.” I honestly can’t think of a better thing to say to the young, college-educated, men-loving, metropolis-living women of my generation.

As Klausner takes us down the mint-condom-laden, disappointment-filled, bedbug-infested path of her failed relationships and dating experiences, we laugh along with her. Why? Because the scenery is familiar. I had to stop several times while reading and think: wait, did I date this same guy? Could it be possible? He lives in Brooklyn? It’s entirely possible that Klausner and I have more in common than our love for Sweeney Todd.

But really: the book showcases mistakes and why Klausner felt she needed or wanted to make them at the time. In another moment of advice, she thinks back to early college relationships wondering: WTF? Then she realizes it was before she had met her BGF (Best Gay Friend). “Gay men appreciate what is feminine about women, and what is funny about being feminine, which is why they appreciate funny women, and bring out the sense of humor in girls more than anybody else on the earth.” They also offer a shoulder to cry on and a more ruthless attack on ex-boyfriends than female friends. Klausner makes the astute argument: Women will make excuses for guys, trying to reassure you that his phone probably died, maybe he’s in the hospital, maybe he’ll remember your anniversary next year, etc. Gay guys will just put it out there: he’s a dick. Move on. Most importantly, Klausner points out, you need to learn how to be “your own gay best friend. It is the only thing that will keep you from going insane, or possibly cutting yourself, which is a cowardly plea for attention and unsightly at the beach.”

With little barbs like these, really what more can a girl want from a memoir/self-help/humor book? “For example, I used to joke about how ‘fun’ it would be to drop acid and see Rosie O’Donnell play Cat in the Hat in Seussical, when it was still on Broadway. Sure, it seems like it would be hilarious, but once you’re in Richard Rogers Theatre, and your armrests are melting, and Horton is singing a ballad about how nobody understands him, all of a sudden it’s not so funny anymore.” Or, after a vegan guy she’s dating wants to taste his own semen: “Colin was probably just starving for animal protein, poor thing. No wonder he was obsessed. It’s like how all dieters do is think about cupcakes, or how all Catholics do all day is imagine how fun it would be to get an abortion.” Or, as proof of her usual commitment to glamour, “I showed up to Ben’s place wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie, which, for me, is an unheard-of outfit to wear unless I am taking a trip to the country dump or giving a cat a bath.” And, my personal favorite: “Still, anyone who can make a living doing something creative is impressive. And that, reader, is the single most Jewish thing I’ve said in this book so far.”

What I love about this book is that even while Klausner’s playing with us (she’s a comedian, for fuck’s sake) she manages to root in the truth of relationships and self-respect with seriousness. And she does it through her honesty -- by exposing herself, she makes us feel like we are not alone. She’s saying life is tough, but isn’t it funny sometimes? In the chapter about Patrick, her true-love ex, she describes the effect their relationship had on her creative output: “It only took two years for the reality to settle in that our relationship was not good for me: I wasn’t doing what I needed to when I was Patrick’s girlfriend. I was too lazy or too fucked up to write anything that was any good or to have any ambition beyond throwing a sketch together... every day Patrick went to sit at a desk at a job he couldn’t stand, then went and did improv onstage with his friends at night, and I’d resent him for not wanting more than that.” Whoa. Jesus Christ on crutches, I’ve been there. I can’t think of a more pure truth than this warning sign -- if a guy doesn’t inspire you to do anything, if you feel like your life is on hold, get the hell out. Get out! Klausner may be funny -- but at this moment, she’s a fucking sage.

Run out and get this fantastic book. I’m so happy to welcome to the stage a smart, funny, fabulous woman who wants to empower and support her female comrades. Ladies and Gentlemen, Julie Klausner.              

I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated by Julie Klausner
Gotham
ISBN: 1592405614
272 Pages