Film & TV

Megan Amram On Her New Book, Twitter Stardom, and the End of ‘Parks and Recreation’

Film & TV

Megan Amram On Her New Book, Twitter Stardom, and the End of ‘Parks and Recreation’

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These days, comedian Megan Amram is a multitasker. Not only does she run her wildly popular Twitter feed (which has half a million followers and launched her comedy career), but she also is a staff writer on Parks and Recreation and is celebrating the release of her first book, Science for Her, which can best be described as a parody of something between a women’s magazine and a high school text book. Here, Amram talks about selling out on Twitter, the upcoming final season of Parks and Recreation, and her love of all things kale.

Science For Her is so funny and so good, but my first thought as I was reading the book was, how you had the time to put it together?
I just stole most of it from existing books [Laughs]. No, it was a lot of work. I would write for a few hours before Parks everyday, because I found that if I wrote after work I had already used up all my comedy brain during the day. It was a lot of holing myself up in coffee shops on the weekends, too. I really enjoyed that it felt very different from writing Parks. One, because the characters in my book and on the show could not be more different. But even just writing prose versus a script, I didn’t feel like I was doing the same thing all day.

If you thought of a good joke, was it difficult to decide whether it was for your book, for Parks, or for your Twitter account?
Yeah, that question does go through my head. But it’s usually pretty organic as to what things fit where. Parks has such specific characters that usually their jokes are not just free-floating one liners. There are a few jokes for the book that I wrote and said, Screw it, I need to tweet this! I need to see it now, I need to give it life! If you say that I said “I need to give it life,” note that it was sarcastic.

That’ll be the headline for the interview. “Megan Amram on her craft: I need to give it life!”
That sums up everything that’s bad about living in Los Angeles. That one line. But the con about writing for the internet is that you don’t get paid for it.

Your Twitter account seems like a full time job in itself.
I really need to pimp it out like Kim Kardashian does. I need to start tweeting about some sort of coconut water. This is an open call; if you’re a company and you pay me a certain amount of money, I’ll tweet about whatever you want.

Have companies come to you and said, “Megan, tweet about our brand and if you do we’ll give you a thousand In-N-Out burgers,” or something.
Ooooh. Obviously if they had, I would have done it. Anything fast food or Cheesecake Factory related.

Or is it mostly shitty internet companies you don’t want to be associated with?
I think there have been some internet company type things where I’m like, “Eh, it’s not worth it.” I’m grateful people come to my feed for content because I didn’t exist as a person before Twitter, so I don’t want to muck it up.

Who’s your favorite person on Twitter?
There are so many funny people on Twitter right now, but Cher’s Twitter is unbelievably good. She just has a beautiful stream of consciousness thing going. It’s a little E.E. Cummings and Dada.

Your book reminded me of The Daily Show’s America: the Book, mostly because it’s a parody of a text book.
Yes, totally. I read America when it first came out and I was so into it. I thought it was so cool, and there were so many things to reread in it. I also loved that there were Easter egg type things in it, and wanted to do something like that for my book. So my Easter eggs are that every 9th page says “69” and there are little arrows pointing to it. Before I knew what kind of a book I wanted to write, I wanted it to be high concept and look like something interesting.

Some parts are so crazy. There are a bunch of pages with just the names of kale recipes. Literally hundreds of them. Did you just do a ton of Googling?
It took me a long time! I went to a lot of websites and just got in the zone. I read them for my audio book and it’s like a 20 minute chapter.  I’m very proud of that.

What’s with the obsession with kale? You even put it in huge letters on the cover of the book.
Kale is such a buzzword and has been for years now. There’s no sign of it going away. I wanted to do the last joke anyone could make about kale, which is just listing it. But, I will say… in real life I love kale.

I do too. I think it’s a generational thing, because we’re the same age (27) and anyone older or younger than us doesn’t really care for it.
Oh my God. I never really thought of it like that. Yeah, we’re going to be telling our children about it now. My favorite food is actually baby carrots, I could eat a bag of them a day.

Your favorite food is what? Did you say baked potatoes?
No, baby carrots.

That makes way more sense. I thought you said your favorite food is baked potatoes and you eat a bag of them a day.
[Laughs] That’s so funny to think about. I show up in a trough and feed Jabba the Hutt all day. Any bag of anything is probably too much. But my skin is kind of orange. I went to the doctor for a checkup, and he was looking at my palms to see if I’m anemic, and my palms are very orange. And it’s from the carrots.

What’s going on with Parks and Recreation?
It’s the last season, we’re almost done writing the whole thing which is crazy. It is so good. Everytime we break the stories, we’re thinking it’s the last time you can do anything. Writing the finale is a lot of pressure to make it pleasing for everyone. There are so many jokes we’ve been wanting to do for years that have never fit into any episode, and now we’re cramming them all into this final run.

You joined that show a few years in when everything was already established. What was that like?
I truly felt I was writing fan fiction at first. It seemed fake. But it’s nice to jump in on an established show because it’s so much hard work to make a show. You can be the funniest and best writer in the world, and creating a show you have no idea what it’s going to be. That’s the interesting thing about working in television, the show has to evolve from the feed back you get from working on it and the audience. It takes so much thinking over and over every line when you’re writing the first season of a show. But arriving in a later season, everyone already did the work for you. You know exactly what Leslie or Tom would say.

What’s next for you?
I think I should write Science for Him. I think that’s a natrual progression. Men’s magazines are just as mindless as women’s.

You’re so right. On the cover of every Men’s Health, it says in some variation, “Get a Six-Pack Now!” That’s been on the cover of every single issue of that magazine for the past 15 years.
Well, because you haven’t! If you get a six-pack then they’d change it, so just do it already.