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Published On: Fri, Jan 19th, 2018

Special Sauce: Author and Playwright Jenny Allen on Chocolate Mousse and Writing Funny


[Photograph: David Welch. Cookie photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Jenny Allen, the humorist and author of the guffaw-inducing new book Would Everybody Please Stop: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas, derives as much pleasure from eating as anyone I know. Consider this anecdote she shared with me about her food-loving stepmother: “One day she said, ‘I made you something. I thought you’d like it.’ It was an entire mixing bowl full of chocolate mousse…It was a huge bowl, and I just took it up to my room and just read and ate it all afternoon. I’m sure I felt sick afterwards, but it was…oh, my God, the best present ever.”

The New Yorker‘s Andy Borowitz, who is no slouch in the humor department has called Jenny one of the funniest writers alive, and so I had to ask her for the one piece of advice she would give to aspiring humor writers: “Something I say sometimes, which is I think even true for me is, when you think the piece is so eccentric or so idiosyncratic or so neurotic or so weird and so personally your own peccadilloes and anxieties, just when I think, boy, I’m gonna send this in, and my editor’s gonna think, this woman is really nuts. That’s when it’s ready to send. And not before that.”

Jenny also happens to be one of the bravest souls I’ve ever met; her hilarious and moving one-woman play I Got Sick Then I Got Better, which describes her experience as a cancer survivor, is a testament to that. And I think anyone who listens to her in Part 1 of her Special Sauce interview will come away with more than a little inkling of her humor and her wonderful generosity of spirit, and will be left wanting more.

(But that’s what Part 2 is for.)

Special Sauce is available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Player FM, and Stitcher. You can also find the archive of all our episodes here on Serious Eats and on this RSS feed.

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