I had the pleasure of connecting with the internet’s John Jack O’Brian and chatting with him about his book, comedy, and inspiration. He is amazing on all levels so, once you are finished reading the interview, buy his book!
Pale Panda: Which breakfast food would you describe yourself as?
John Jack O’Brien: I think I’m a toaster strudel. Basically a Pop Tart but gooier on the inside. I’ll leave it up to you to come up with your own icing joke.
P: I picked up your book (re: the wasps) and love the surreal take on working in a corporate office. It especially dragged me in because I actually did take up smoking for many of the reasons in the first story. Can you walk me through a bit of the inspiration for it?
J: Thank you so much for reading! The weekend before I started a new job, I went camping with a friend to Sequoia National Park. We spent the weekend in the mountains, surrounded by no one. It was so beautiful, I felt incredibly in touch with nature and myself.
It was so beautiful, I felt incredibly in touch with nature and myself.
Then I headed home and the next day started my new job as a PA for a TV show. I was the first one in the office, there to set up everybody’s desks and chairs and computers. I was the only one in the whole building, surrounded by empty offices. It was dark, and quiet, and made me feel so different from how I felt in the woods.
That’s when I first started to feel that the office environment was unnatural, and unnatural places are where unnatural things happen. And that’s how I started writing horror stories set in an office that later became RE: THE WASPS.
P: Speaking of your book, I will be upfront and say that I grabbed it on Amazon Unlimited. How do you feel about subscription services for your content? Do you think it’s any different for written art than performed art?
J: I don’t mind. I’ve actually been thinking about making it free. I’ve done a couple free days and I always “sell” way, way more books. For now, I’m just glad that people read it, anyway they can. But the goal is to make you walk into a Barnes and Noble and shell out $20 for the next book.
The only apps I use now are to put food in my mouth….
P: Do you participate in any dating apps?
J: No, I’m happily taken. Feels good not to be judged in that meat market anymore. But I did meet my boyfriend on an app, so I approve! The only apps I use now are to put food in my mouth and to distract me while I watch slow-burn prestige dramas.
P: What do you find is the difference between a true prestige drama and a fauxtige drama?
J: A true prestige drama sits on top of a pile of other, lesser dramas on the same network. I don’t want to watch any show that is that channel’s only show – that’s a real fauxtige drama, when the network puts all their eggs in one basket. I want the dessert on top of the food pyramid.
J: Should I include any more metaphors for clarity?
P: Nah. I think you got it crystal.
Waiting time for a gay man to donate blood: 1 year of no sexual contact
Waiting time for a psychopath to purchase an assault rifle: 3 days.
— jack o'brien (@obrienjohnjack) June 12, 2016
P: What is the structural difference between a monologue joke and a well-made twitter joke?
J: Monologue jokes are for the ear, and ears don’t process humor as well as eyes. You can write a really sophisticated joke with layers and irony and it works, if the audience is reading it.
They have a moment, they make a connection, they absorb it, they can re-read it if they want to. With a monologue joke, you’ve got ten seconds and you’ve got to filter it through a performer.
So then it becomes more about timing and sounds, and playing it dumber and dumber so that you know for sure it’ll work. Way less room to be weird and cute.
Monologue jokes are by far the hardest things I’ve ever written. It’s like pounding out sheet metal. Twitter jokes are like making cupcakes.
J: Sorry to come off like a Joke Scientist.
Adam Rippon has inspired me to wear my business-casual harness to work tomorrow.
— jack o'brien (@obrienjohnjack) March 4, 2018
Alright, time for some yes/no lightning round questions. You can elaborate if you want, but it will cost you 30 points.
P: Are there too many podcasts?
P: Do you think Randy Quaid is a giving lover?
J: this is the worst question anyone’s ever asked me
P: Is being a page the dream job people make it out to be?
J: Yes, Kenneth is my lord and savior
P: Will Linda ever find true happiness?
J: Yes if Linda looks within herself
P: Will you spend more than 5 minutes looking to see if an attractive Twitter-gay has nudes somewhere online?
J: I plead the fifth, and yes.
here are my pitches for new gay slang like "wig" or "broom"
LOBSTERED: when your butt gets really red from being slapped
FAGRAM: a fag's instagram
CAPRI SUN: a too tight bottom
also, I don't know how, but we're going to make drool hot. Straights will take this mainstream in 2019
— jack o'brien (@obrienjohnjack) March 14, 2018
P: What are a few of your favorite things in media right now?
J: I’m really digging the survival reality show “Alone” on Hulu, and I now that I have Movie Pass, I’m enjoying going to the movie on a whim thinking there’s no great loss to me if I don’t like it. So I’m much more tempted to give a second rate also-ran a chance on a rainy Sunday afternoon, which is nice. Musically, I’m just getting excited for this summer’s Eurovision. I personally will be rooting for Benjamin Ingrosso from Sweden.
P: What is your favorite thing, place, or person you go to for inspiration?
J: There is no better place to go to for inspiration than the beach. I don’t know how landlocked people do it.
P: What would the title of a reality show about your life be, and what would your Real Housewives-esque tagline be?
J: I guess my reality show would be called The Secret Life of Gays and be about how we are mostly bored and angry people. And my tagline would be me rapping “I’m Jack O’Brien and I’m here to say –” and then the footage cuts off because the show is immediately canceled.