The John DeVore Interview
John DeVore is a blogger, humorist and media whore who lives in LA working on comedy-type web work. He was one of the original launch editors for Maxim magazine’s website as well as the lead writer for Comedycentral.com and Jokes.com. For several years, he co-hosted the popular nighttime talk radio show DeVore and Diana, with Diana Falzone for Sirius Satellite Radio. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan Magazine and Men's Journal, as well as Esquire.com, Playboy.com and CNN.com. Up until recently, he wrote the Mind of Man column for The Frisky. You can find out much more about him by following him on Twitter. He also wanted me to make sure that you know that he loves musicals.
You were just in Chicago for Just For Laughs reasons: What were you most looking forward to doing while you’re here that’s not work-related?
I found myself mostly looking forward to sleep. During the week of the festival, I felt about sleep the way I use to feel about cocaine. The prospect of collapsing into my hotel bed made excited to live. During the short amount of time I did have to myself, I was mostly excited about walking around the city, inhaling as many proteins and carbohydrates as possible. Chicago is an impossibly seductive melding of sophistication and unpretentiousness. It might be the quintessential American city: New York is a global city-state and L.A. is the city of tomorrow. Chicago is America: hot dogs, skyscrapers, and genuine smiles. And not the kind of smiles you get down south where I am from. The smiles that say “Y’all come back now… to my kill shack.”
Were there any JFL shows you planned on checking out?
I was in Chicago for work, which meant twelve hour shifts in the basement of the Chicago Theater. But Chicago is a comedy town. I could argue THE comedy town in America. Chicago is a city that can laugh at itself. Maybe there’s a connection between comedy and the blues? Sadness, and the courage to be sad in a society that insists we pursue happiness even when that pursuit seems to be nothing but folly, fuels both comedy and the blues.
Which of your Frisky columns caused controversies that you least expected?
I will be honest: very few of the columns ever caused a sh*tstorm. I've been a button pusher and a troll for years, but the original conceit of Mind of Man was to do something no one else was doing — write a male column for a female blog that wasn't based on fear trolling. Almost ALL male bloggers for women's websites all confirm base fears. That's why so many of them are "anonymous." The editorial plan, since I was a consultant on The Frisky, was to write something honest and funny. The column was popular, but not because it inspired viral response and rage. One feminist writer tried to drill in to me early on, but it didn't really work. Her name is Sady Doyle, and I kind of love her work. Very funny, and angry.
There were columns I was proud of, and certainly the column I wrote about pegging and the column I wrote about why you're not married were popular. But the mission wasn't to push buttons. It was more about being. . . romantic? Not a jerk? The gendered personalities in Cosmo and Glamour and even some ladyblogs are so shrill and unlikable. Mind of Man was more really a part of me, the part of me that is a little self-loathing, that has always had a lot of non-romantic women friends, the part of me that has made poor relationship choices and is trying to make amends for them.
Aside from everyday life, where did you get your ideas for columns? Did you have a ladyblogroll?
I have made a living editing and writing for men’s and women’s magazines and websites. It’s a simple and effective racket, generally speaking. You simply exploit the insecurities and/or confirm the prejudices of whatever gender you are writing for, and then the money rolls in. Just write an article like "If You Don't Learn These Sex Tips He'll Cheat On You" or "Pick Up Lines 4 Bros On A Ho Hunt" and then, boom, $$$.
But my Mind of Man ideas came from my own personal fears and insecurities. Then I used that column to tell myself that everything was going to be okay. There’s an old saying that goes “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, blog about it.” I was a relationship expert only because my love life has been a disaster. So I used my romantic failures as inspiration. I truly hope someone benefited from my manifold mistakes. My intent was not controversy. My intent was to write an honest, funny relationship column. If my column had a mission statement, it was "Don’t Be A Jerk."
Who are some of your favorite writers who also cover the differences (and similarities) between guys and gals?
I have an immense personal and professional affection for the editors of The Frisky. So I read that site, everyday, loyally. I have to keep up on what Amelia is wearing, especially since I live on the West Coast now. Other than that, I don't really read relationship blogs, unless Maureen Dowd counts.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen online lately?
That PBS handed over its Mr. Rogers archive to John D. Boswell of Symphony of Science Dot Com so he could create a musical piece saluting that man. Also: I love Reddit, if only because it is a free-for-all of speech.
You’ve been around the block when it comes to online humor. What sites do you find are most reliable at serving up consistently funny stuff?
It’s almost cliché to heap accolades on The Onion, but they have earned all of their success. That organization is the gold standard, and they did it the old fashioned way – years and years of consistently hilarious work. They are just another example of that Midwestern comedy ethic – silly, smart, a moral center. I also enjoy the singular comedic voice of The Oatmeal, and Cracked is an entertaining and funny digital well I often find myself falling down.
You’re a playwright. Have you had the chance to see many plays of late, and if so, which have been your favorites?
I have seen some play readings here in L.A. recently. There is a thriving theatre scene in L.A., and it exists below the radar of Hollywood. It’s almost subversive. The best thing I’ve seen in the past six months or so was a play by downtown NYC director Ian Hill at Brooklyn’s The Brick Theater, an experimental theater and arts collective that I’ve worked with many times over the years. It was a play called Gone, and in it, two old friends have a conversation in an expressive yet alien language. I loved it.
What’s are some classic plays you’d love to see revived?
Joe Orton should be revived. The British playwright wrote lovely and insane bacchanalias that held nothing sacred. Chekov is perfect for our times, and is repeatedly misunderstood and that’s why productions of his work are boring affairs. He found pampered people unaware of their coming decline hilarious and so do I. Also: Euripides. Always Euripides.
You’ve been a frequent guest on Red Eye on FOX News and alluded in an interview to some bad experiences you’ve had on-air. What makes for a bad guest stint on TV?
I have had bad experiences on air, but never on Red Eye. Host Greg Gutfeld never edited my talking points, never sand-bagged me on air, and was always a gentleman on and off camera. Both he and his colleagues on the show, Andy Levy and Bill Schulz, allowed me to express my liberal points of view on their show. That said, I have been on other shows on multiple networks and I’m probably a bad guest. To be successful as a talking head, you have to be able to tell the people who are watching what they want to hear. This is the media world we live in: you can find a media platform that will tell you exactly what you want to hear, even if it’s a lie. Especially if it’s a lie. A pretty lie.
It seems like conservative talking heads are (or are least have more) fun than liberal ones: do you find that to be the case?
I don’t know. I see it all as a Punch and Judy Show. A Circus Maximus. You buy a ticket for whatever carnival barker will shout the truth you most want to be true. No one wants to hear they are wrong, lazy, consumed by fear or unable to ask themselves the basic intellectual question: “What if I am wrong?”
How do you and the other online John Devore feel about each other?
I don't talk about that DeVore.
I never talk about that DeVore.
Nor do I talk about John DeFore.
What’s an average day like curating the website of a television show?
It is never, ever boring.
Why do you look so pensive in so many of your photos?
Because I’m sad a lot.
What do you like most about L.A.?
I miss New York City. It was my home for 15 years. L.A. and I are casually dating right now. But I do love the sun. It’s like a shining Paxil pill in the sky. I love the tacos. I love playing the game “Is that jasmine I smell or marijuana?” I like that L.A. is a city where you can be as weird as you want to be, and no one really cares.
How does it feel to be the 317th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?
It feels real good.