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Joel Stein's Guide to Masculinity and Humor
Find out how our November Guest Judge embarrassed himself in front of George Clooney
Book of the Month
1. Are you related to Ben Stein? (Bueller?... Bueller?? Bueller?)
No. But I did interview him once and he befriended me. His dad had just died and he cried during the interview, so I think that, plus the same last names, and the fact that he started as a columnist, and I did some TV appearances, made him feel bonded to me. So we went out to dinner with our wives once. We're not that similar. But I liked him.
2. You've written over 500 columns for Time Magazine. Which one is your favorite?
Whatever one people liked the most. I am all ego and no inner compass. Maybe when my wife eats her placenta? Though I have a soft spot for the one where I proposed to her.
3. In 2013 you wrote a cover story for Time Magazine called the "Me Me Me Generation" in which you called Millennials (people age 15 to 35) narcissistic, over-confident and self-involved. Two years later, has your perspective changed?
Not at all. The fact that so many Millennials got personally offended by it (I can't imagine any Gen Xer caring that Slackers made us look bad) made me more sure about those facts.
4. Your book Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity describes your exploits hanging out with firemen, working in a machine shop and joining the Army (for a few days). Did any of these activities actually succeed in making you more manly?
To my surprise: Yes. It also made me more comfortable around men. I can ask very specific questions about boot camp, UFC, cars, boy scouts, football and day trading now. And that's all you need.
5. Teddy Roosevelt vs. Jason Bourne: Â¿Quien es mas macho?
Theodore Roosevelt. I'd like to see you call him "Teddy" to his face. Whereas you could call Jason Bourne "Jay" all day. Did Jason Bourne get shot in the chest during a speech and keep going? Did he try to improve our world by making a Fonetic Dikshunary?
I know it wasn't from her freshman year writing tutor, which was me. She didn't exactly come to me for essay help. She was already writing poetry that famous poets were recognizing. I thought they were creepy old men who thought she was cute, and I told her so. [[[I was a dick.]]]
7. You also taught a humor class at Princeton. Can you actually teach people how to be funny?
Totally. It's just math. Funny people have just been doing that math a long time, usually because if they didn't, they would have gotten beaten up.
8. Who is your favorite comedian?
Right now at this moment? Amy Schumer is really good right now. So is Louis C.K. I just saw Mike Birbiglia and was surprised at just how good he's gotten.
9. When you had George Clooney over to your house for dinner, what did you cook for him?
The spaghetti carbonara and salad were good, but I kept having to put the mustard-crusted rack of lamb back in the oven. It was embarrassing.
10. Paper or plastic?
Dude, I live in LA. We bring reuseable tote bags everywhere.