Julie Klausner is a comedy writer and a mighty raconteur. Her podcast, How Was Your Week, has been on my to-do list for quite some time now. The New York Times called it “one of the few essential podcasts.” And Rolling Stone deemed it one the 10 best comedy podcasts of the moment.
She’s had some amazing guests: Fred Armisen, Patton Oswalt, Neko Case, Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, and Ira Glass–to name a few. But the real star of this show is the intro, a segment style Klausner has borrowed from other podcasts and turned on its ear. It’s delightful.
Take episode 121, “Silver Dollar Pancakes“; when the monologue, by design, goes off the rails. One has no choice but to surrender to Klausner’s lightening-speed transitions and circuitous segues. It’s pretty amazing stuff. Here’s a snippet:
Oh, I finally saw Cher on The Voice. I watched the clip online. She looked amazing, and she sort of also looked like a cockatoo. She kind of looked like Talkatoo Cockatoo from Zoobilee Zoo (pictured) ...
Zoobilee Zoo was a show on television, and it was shot in a studio that had literally nothing else in it besides these five actors or so that were just dressed up like these hideous amalgams of like people and animals … The weasel would act weasely and the cockatoo would just sort of act like Joan Cusack. And Ben Verene was just… perfect.”
See what I mean? Klausner graciously answered a few questions for me about her show and her approach to comedy:
You can stroll through a stream-of-consciousness monologue more adeptly than most comedians can deliver a rehearsed half hour. Where did you hone that art?
“Being interrupted a lot and having to steer the conversation back to where it was before it got derailed. Trying to get out what I wanted to say in my family. Being stubborn about the point I was trying to prove and not wanting to drop it until I proved it. Having a bit of ADD. Getting bored easily. Watching too much TV growing up. I’m sure all of it plays a part.”
You’ve been compared to Sandra Bernhardt (still have to listen to that episode) and Joan Rivers, who you wrote for. I’m guessing you draw inspiration from more than just comedians though. Who else made an impression you?
“John Waters, Kate Pierson, Daniel Clowes, Fran Lebowitz, Peter Bagge, Nora Ephron, Woody Allen. A lot of people.”
There are models out there for successful podcasting. What have you gleaned from them, and where do you hope to break from convention?
“There are? Where are they? Haha. I don’t know. I just do the show I want every week, and I’m thrilled people listen. Success means a lot of things to a lot of different people. I’m lucky I get to do what I like in this format. I don’t lose money.I’m not using it to pay rent, but it doesn’t make much either. In terms of breaking from convention, I just think I have a pretty unique voice in general, so I don’t live in fear of not standing out in that way.”
Who would your ideal guest be?
“The guy who was killed in GRIZZLY MAN. I’d want to hear more about his philosophies about bears versus people, and how it felt when he lost the role of Woody on Cheers to Woody Harrelson.”
You’re a multimedia machine: accomplished writer, celebrated comedian, and podcaster. Do you have a plan? If so, what’s next on the docket?
“The plan is to keep working and making stuff with as much momentum as possible. To pay my rent. To do stuff I don’t hate. To work with people I love who make me laugh. Next on the docket is a couple of TV projects, going back to work with Billy Eichner, doing the p’cast, making more Vulture videos, doing more performances of my cab show, and I wrote a play. I might want to learn how to play the autoharp too.”
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
“Being able to pay my rent doing something I love.”
In Klausner’s own words, “That’s my point; that’s all I got, but it sustains me.”