Last month, Seal Press published Ophira Eisenberg’s comedic memoir Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy. In it, the NPR host (Ask Me Another), Brooklyn resident, comedian and Moth regular recounts her sexploits: “going around” in first grade, her first time at 15, and guy number 39, now her husband, whom she met when she was 31.
You started out as a comic but then moved to storytelling. That's how your book agent found you?
Yes! She saw me hosting a Moth Slam and said, “I think you have a book in you.”
Do you see a connection between the storytelling you do on stage and your book?
I love storytelling, and I used it to workshop many of the stories in the book. I think we have a need in society right now for the intimate connection a storytelling show creates with an audience. Perhaps it’s a reaction to Twitter or Facebook; we need more than 140 characters. Of course, you could say it’s also a very narcissistic venture, telling true stories from your life to an audience, but I really think the audience listens and reflects on their own lives. There’s a definite link between comedy/storytelling and my book’s topic: intimacy.
You were an anthropology major in college and a feminist, so what would the name of your thesis be?
[Laughs] “A Field Guide to Nerds and Ridiculous Men”?
You have a zinger in the book: “I didn’t realize I was being slutty, I just thought I was being nice.” What do you think about the notion that by feeling a need to be “polite” women can put themselves in dangerous or nonconsensual situations?
Right, but no, that’s not what that means; this wasn’t about politely going to bed with anyone. It’s not Downton Abbey. I will say that if I pursued someone and it got to a certain point, it seemed only fair to see it through since I started the game, but there’s nothing apologetic about it. I meant “nice” in the way that I was nice to men—because I generally liked them.
Are you a guy’s girl?
Yes! Not only do I work in male-dominated comedy, but my old day job was as an IT tech. I’d make a shitty tomboy though. I look terrible in a backpack.
What do your parents think of the book?
My mother always told me, “never live your life for a man.” I’m sure she’d be happy about the second half of the book’s title, but my mom’s 83. She’s not going to read this.
How about the rest of your family?
I told them that the title, Screw Everyone, might let on that this book is not for you.
Any pissed off exes?
Boyfriends? Not that I know of. One wrote on Facebook, “Am I in the book?” Facebook—it’s too bad you can’t lose touch with people anymore.
Some readers see your book as prescriptive. What do you say to that?
It’s a comedic memoir, not a dating advice guide, but if there’s a takeaway, it’s that you can shop around and be smart about what you like and who you like instead of waiting patiently like a princess in a tower.
The book may resonate with readers because you have a very aloof attitude toward monogamy and settling down.
Yes, but it wasn’t manufactured aloofness; it just wasn’t my goal for a long time. It was just where I was at. I was in control.
What would you tell aspiring Ophira Eisenbergs?
Take your time, try to laugh at it a bit more, and don’t spiral perm your hair. That took forever to grow out.
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since writing the book?
After I did my first ever late night set on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, I got called over to his desk for a chat. I was the first comic he did that to, and I couldn’t believe I got to be that person.