Shit Justin Halpern says: The Twitter phenom dishes on his dad, his wife and his latest book
As it turns out, a good Twitter account doesn't necessarily make a good television show. Nonfiction funny man Justin Halpern learned that lesson the nationally televised way when real-life anecdotes from his hilariously crabby father translated poorly from social media into a cheesy, laugh-grabbing sitcom starring William Shatner. (Captain Kirk cannot save everyone.)
So this year, Halpern channeled his riotously funny introspection (and his father's blunt advice) into his own history -- and he's already sold the rights to Warner Brothers. With I Suck at Girls, Halpern's latest novel, the author explores the pros, cons and painful embarrassments of the romantic relationships he sacrificed on his way to the altar. Let's just say he's not a smooth operator.
Before Halpern brings the book to the LoDo Tattered Cover, 1628 16th Street, on Monday, May 21, Westword talked to him about poop, his family and which of his stories won't ever make it into a book:
Westword: What is the most surprising way your life has changed since Sh*t My Dad Says?
Justin Halpern: Everything has changed, so it's hard to pick just one. In a period of just a few years, my whole career is different than it was before then.... Basically, I've been allowed to live out my dream. I guess, for me, I'm always surprised that someone buys anything I've written. Just the fact that someone would put down $16 fascinates me, and that they choose to do so on something about my dad.
How did your follow-up, I Suck at Girls, start? Where did the idea stem from?
I didn't have an idea for a second book and didn't want to just throw something out there, so it took a while. I went to lunch with my dad and told him I was going to propose to my (then) girlfriend, and he suggested that I take stock of my life and my relationships, all the way back to the first one, and then sort of figure out if I still want to propose. After doing all that, I thought this might be a good way to organize a book. I have a lot of stories that seem to lend themselves to universal concepts, and there's no shortage of embarrassment.
The easiest part is finding something to laugh at. You make so many mistakes, or at least I did, that to fill the pages up with them is simple, if you can present them simply and easily. The hardest part is making sure that every story is different, because a lot of themes carry over.
Is there anything about your life that is off limits?
I don't personally keep anything out, but if I write something about someone else, I show it to them. And if they don't like it, I take it out. It happens a lot, and it happened this time. There has been stuff with my exes where they're like, "Hell no, please don't use that." And even with my wife now, there's stuff where she's like, "Meh, I'd rather you didn't include that part." I have a policy of not arguing about it at all. I just take it out. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with family and friends, so I wouldn't do anything to change that.
What does your dad say about your latest book?
I always have him read everything I write before I turn it into my editor, if it involves him, so he read the majority of the book before it even went to an editor. I think he was surprised that he liked it, and he told me that he thought the writing was a lot better than the first book. That's kind of how he gives compliments, in this backhanded way where you can never really be certain it's a compliment. But he liked it.
Has he enjoyed any degree of celebrity? Are there people who know who he is?
He really doesn't leave the neighborhood very often, so everyone already knew who he was before the book. Occasionally he'll go into a bookstore and someone will recognize him, and I think he actually gets a kick out of it. Because it doesn't happen very often, he enjoys it when it does. The other day he went into a bookstore and they saw the name on his card, so they asked him, "Are you related to Justin Halpern?" He was like, "Yeah, I'm the dad." So they asked him to sign a lot of books, and he signed "Dad" on like twenty books and left.
Continue through for more from Halpern.