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Samantha Irby takes off on ĎReal Lifeí in return

June 12, 2017 

Samantha Irby thinks her life would be the kind of sitcom thatís more situation than comedy, where the sad trombone plays while the credits roll.

So 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.

In 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 without kids."

But 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."

Irby 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 edited transcript.

Q: Are you excited about Rachel Lindsay, the first black woman to star on "The Bachelorette?"

A: 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 on.

Q: "Meaty" is in development for an FX series. How is that going?

A: 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.

Q: Have your ever thought about writing fiction?

A: 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 it.

Q: Name one thing people donít know about you?

A: 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.

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