Sylvia’s zine, “Marry Me, Michael Showalter”, had me laughing so hard that I absolutely had to get a hold of her for an interview! She’s all kinds of funny and charming, as you’ll see.
Sylvia, be my BFF? xoxo
Toad and Sylvia, relaxing at Disneyland.
1.) Ok, I totally love the title of your zine, “Marry Me Michael Showalter”. It was the first zine I bought at the L.A. Zine Fest, and I didn’t even look through it, I just bought it because the name was so adorable and earnest. So I need to get this out of the way: have you given Michael a copy of the zine? If you haven’t, what is your game plan with him?
I’m flattered you didn’t even look through it! I’ve never given Michael a copy of my zine. If you read his memoir, “Mr. Funny Pants,” you get the idea that he’s kind of a socially awkward guy and is shy by nature, so I don’t think I’d be doing him any favors by giving it to him. Plus, I’m way too lazy to find out how to get in touch with him. Maybe when he visits LA again to do another comedy show, I’ll give it to him. My plan to marry him (even though he already has a wife) is to walk around Brooklyn day and night until I stumble across him. I’ll have prepared a sandwich in my pocket — he likes sandwiches. And I’ll give him the sandwich. There won’t be any sun dried tomatoes on the sandwich, either, because he hates sun dried tomatoes. Plus, sun dried tomatoes leak and I don’t want a damp pocket. Anyway, he’ll be so swept away by my preparedness and sandwich that he’ll just outright propose to me. Duh.
The cover of “Marry Me, Michael Showalter”
2.) I also like your Twitter, where you write things like “I feel like a lamb crawled inside me to die and now a hunter is eating its rotting carcass”. Story of my life! How do you come up with these things? Do you feel like there was a time where you decided, “I’m just going to be really funny.” When was it, and what led you to it?
Well, I have bipolar disorder. So sometimes I just write a lot of gobbledy-gook because I’m manic. I didn’t realize I was being that funny until you mentioned it. And I don’t know if you mean funny as a whole or funny as in just my Twitter. I hate social media (I don’t know how to use it to my advantage), so I decided that I wasn’t going to be very serious on my Twitter. No news links, nothing to get me tons of followers — just me being me. And I’ve always had a weird sense of humor. I love “Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job,” for example. That’s odd and hilarious at the same time to me. I take life pretty seriously, despite what everyone says you should do, but I think humor is part of taking life seriously. Because if you’re not taking life seriously, you’re not pushing yourself to be a funny person, or to be yourself. That’s a lot of philosophical nonsense. You should erase that. (Don’t actually erase it, it makes me sound cerebral.) (Don’t erase that last parenthetical phrase, either.)
I loved LA Zine Fest. It was terrific. I did a small zine “tour” last year (DC Zine Fest and Portland Zine Symposium) and I notice that each city has its own zine flavor. DC has a lot of punk zines, and Portland has a lot of homemade, really down-to-earth pieces. LA is full of artists, so there’s an awful lot of drawing and comic zines, and there’s also a lot more polished work in LA too — not that that’s necessarily a bad or good thing. It’s just something I noticed.
I had a big box of leftover zines from last year and I just stuffed them in a luggage case, and I sewed a little decorative flag thing and wrote “THE DOKTOR IS IN” in big letters on some colored cardboard. That’s how I prepared. It was a really busy weekend, so I didn’t have much time to prepare. Oh, and I went to the bank and got $100 in $1 bills, because you can never have enough change at zine fests.
As for the fest, I met (shout out here) my friend Laura Marie for the first time, who does a mental illness zine. That was really cool. I regret not giving her a big hug, because her zines really helped me through tough times in my life where my bipolar disorder was really taking it’s toll. I saw a few of my zine friends — Alex and Ann Chiu of Eyeball Burp, and Alex Wrekk of Brainscan. Zine fests are just a lot of fun because you get to interact with like-minded people who are into zines, and believe you me, they are a very specific type of person. Another fun aspect is the trading. You’ll trade a zine for another zine that someone is offering, and you get some crazy random zines and some surprises that way. I was super excited to meet Carrie, who does the diary comic You Don’t Get There from Here. It’s just a big zine on the circuit, so I was stoked to meet her. Most of the customers were really nice to me. There weren’t any jokes. Everyone just had this serious, stoic face. They all frowned. Just kidding, but I got the most reactions and laughs from “Marry Me, Michael Showalter”. I guess putting an actor’s name in a zine helps people want to read it.
Sylvia’s list and musings in “Marry Me, Michael Showalter”
4.) What sorts of zines do you think you might do in the future? Anything in the works right now?
I did most of my zines around 2010 when I was really manic. The only zine I’ve done since then is my comic zine, whose name I can’t recall right now (nice PR there, huh?). I stapled and folded that the night before the zinefest. I think I’m going to finish my perzine, Hot Dinner Special #2, and then I’m going to quit doing zines for a while. I realize that writing is a big part of my life, so I don’t know yet how I’m going to make an outlet for it. I’m not a big fan of blogging, so that’s out. I dunno, I might do another zine. The hard part is getting the artistic and creative energy to channel into paper and pen. And despite what some may think, that’s really hard, to create a quality zine. I don’t want to put out crap.
An ode to the man himself!
Like I mentioned before, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim do some awesome stuff. I love Yeah Yeah Yeahs and its frontwoman, Karen O. I think Charlyne Yi — who was at the zine fest! — is tops and sometimes I think I act a little like her. I’m definitely influenced by the work of Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, the State, Stella (who is made up of Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black and David Wain, all from the State) … all those old sketch comedy-type shows. And I can’t say that my profession, journalism, hasn’t influenced me in some way. I’m kind of a grammar geek, for example. It’s something I can’t help. It’s the grammar gene. If you say “compared to” instead of “compared with” in the wrong circumstances, or if you say “over $35,000” instead of “more than $35,000,” I am onto you, pal. Did I spell “onto” correctly in that sentence?
You can get your own copy of “Marry Me, Michael Showalter” by emailing Sylvia at: firstname.lastname@example.org. And you should check her out on Twitter. What a rockstar!