Ben Karlin, former executive producer of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, on collecting 46 hysterical yet poignant essays on Things I've Learned From Women Who Dumped Me from the biggest names in comedy.
Why'd you want to put this book together?
I knew I needed the blessing of Nick Hornby, who wrote the introduction, and pretty much invented the genre of the men's confessional with High Fidelity. But it's more than "men have feelings, too." That's why I put Dan Vebber's essay "Sex Is the Most Stressful Thing in the History of the Universe" first — he's not the biggest name in the book, but his story about how his first time was so anxiety-provoking that he now considers himself a survivor of Post-Traumatic Sex Disorder sets the tone of going against what you usually hear about men.
How did you find the contributors?
Some, like Bob Odenkirk, were comedy heroes of mine. I also wanted to see what musicians like Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and OK Go's Damian Kulash, who deal with breakups in their lyrics, would do with a different format. Adam annotated a pop song and Damian wrote a poignant piece about how you can't stay together just because you share a dog.
Any favorite pieces?
I'm contractually obligated to say I love them all, but I can tell you that the one by my mom, "I Think My Son Is a Catch," is the least objective thing ever written.
Would this book be as funny if it were written by women, or would it have a He's Just Not That Into You quality?
Hard to say. I think comedy is all about that element of surprise, and women are a lot more able to access their feelings, whereas men are more reticent and stoic — so them talking about their feelings is a bigger surprise. But we also wanted to keep it away from being one timbre or overly sentimental, so I DJ'ed it for a good mix.
Give us some advice about the kindest way to dump a guy.
Move to a different state, destroy your birth records, change your entire identity. No awkward conversation — just disappear completely. In Will Forte's essay, his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend lives across the street, so he constantly sees them together — can you imagine anything worse?
Not really. Is this book the best anti-Valentine's Day gift?
I think Jerry Falwell's Guide to Abstinence would be, but this is a close second.
Leave us a comment with what you learned by dumping men — or getting dumped by 'em! You can also buy the book here