Irby thinks her life would be the kind of sitcom thatís
more situation than comedy, where the sad trombone plays
while the credits roll.
she writes in her latest book, "We Are Never
Meeting in Real Life," an essay collection due out
Tuesday. It took three years for Irby to put it
together, but fans of "Meaty," her 2013 book,
will not be disappointed.
her follow-up ó a second volume showcasing her "Irbyness"
ó she shares snippets of her life, including growing
up with a mother who had multiple sclerosis and an
unreliable, alcoholic father. She offers tales of public
defecation, makes her case for staying indoors
("words like "outdoor music festival" are
why I am so glad summer in Chicago lasts approximately
seven minutes"), and contemplates other intricacies
of life: love, depression, money management, medications
for her Crohnís disease, and being that "friend
Irby is at her best when she cracks wise about the black
experience ó like the time Irby attended a wedding in
Naperville, only to run across a Civil War reenactment
and Black Republicans in the same day. Or her first time
venturing out to a cabin in the woods ó "(I)t is
the plot of every horror movie youíve ever seen: white
person convinces black person to pack up her hair grease
Ö and reparations money in the hopes of spending a
long relaxing weekend in (vaguely authentic-sounding
pseudo-Native American word) (Lake/Falls/Island/Coast)
doing white-people things like lying in hammocks and
eating fresh apricots. Black person dies before youíve
even made a dent in your popcorn."
launched her "B ó Gotta Eat" blog in 2009,
but it feels like sheís been living in a corner of our
brain for longer than that. Irby, 37, a native of
Evanston who moved last year to Kalamazoo, Mich., talked
to the Tribune by phone about her work. Hereís an
Are you excited about Rachel Lindsay, the first black
woman to star on "The Bachelorette?"
Iím more nervous than Iíve ever been. Like one of
the dudes is going to call her "Hot
Chocolate," and then Iíll have to throw my TV out
of the window. When they go to the home visit episode,
what are these guysí racist grandmas going to say? Iím
super excited, because she seems like sheís really
smart. Sheís a lawyer. Iím really proud of her, but
then Iím immediately terrified for all the potential
ways she could be disrespected. Iím going to watch it,
but I may have to do some deep breathing before it comes
"Meaty" is in development for an FX series.
How is that going?
Jessi Klein and I are working on the second draft of the
pilot. I hope they like it and let us make it. We donít
get to see a whole lot of just regular, kinda nerdy, but
not-nerdy, just regular black people on TV. Black
people, who have a little money, but not a lot, but arenít
destitute on the street and whoíve grown up with all
sorts of people. My biggest dream is to have a main
character on television Ö regular, fat, black people
Ö and have some black love on TV without it being a
thing. Iím really stoked to be writing a person with
bowel disease. So, Iím really stoked to get to
hopefully put poop on television in a relatively
seriously way, but not in a way to bum you out.
Have your ever thought about writing fiction?
I have thought about it. And I have some little notes on
young-adult novels that I would like to write. I donít
know if my agent can sell it, but I do plan on writing
Name one thing people donít know about you?
I watch a lot of NBA, but I listen to and watch a lot of
sports analysis. I have more favorite analysts than I do
players. Sports is where I get my fix of outrage and
gossip and all that good stuff, but it doesnít have
any consequences. What do I care if the strike zone has
changed? It doesnít matter. Itís just fun to listen
to people fighting.