Q&A: Megan Amram Reps PDX as One of the Funniest People on Twitter

The writer for NBC’s Parks and Recreation and one of Rolling Stone’s “25 Funniest People on Twitter”— satirizes women’s-magazine style advice in her debut book, Science … For Her!

By Catalina Gaitán October 21, 2014

Image courtesy Mathias Clamer for Stockland Martel

So. This book. Why?
It is a science textbook tailored to a female’s smaller brain. It’s very hard for our admittedly simpler brains to understand scientific concepts. It’s hard for our weak, beautiful little hands to turn the pages of most heavy science textbooks. 

We sense sarcasm, Megan. By dealing with scientific topics in the language and visuals of women’s magazines, are you taking a shot at the latter?
I’ve had these magazines my entire life. When I see beautiful colors and smiling people in a magazine, it triggers some very intrinsic need to spend all my money on them.

Who’s the intended audience?
I really hope that teenagers get this book. When you’re a teenage girl, that’s the time of your life when you need to question these magazines the most. You need to know that if you don’t have perfect fashion sense as prescribed by them, you’re still a valid woman. 

Still, there is a lot of real science in this book.
I’ll give it up to Catlin Gabel. I am a huge math and science nerd in real life. I went to Harvard, and almost majored in math but got scared away because there are some real geniuses there. But I definitely considered that as a career when I was younger.

Megan Amram
Powell's Books
Nov 14
How did growing up in Portland shape your thinking?

Basically, I’m a hippie. I think everyone should do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and it makes them both happy. I am grateful that Portland is a real crucible for that sort of thinking.

You live in LA now, like all television writers. What keeps you coming back?
I, like a lot of people in the city, have become obsessed with Salt & Straw. They’re opening one in Los Angeles, which is going to be a disaster. I would usually just wait until I came here to get a full-butterfat scoop of ice cream. Now it’s just going to be near my house.

Your tweets helped launch your career. What about Twitter works for aspiring comedians?
It really is a meritocracy. When I started, I was completely unknown. People decided to follow me based on whether they liked my jokes or not. It’s this amazing equalizer: if you’re already famous, you have to really figure out the medium and try hard. If you’re not already famous, and you happen to be good at it, it can really accelerate whatever career you want. 

Do you think women in LA relate more to the stereotypical fashionable Cosmopolitan woman?
The women I’ve met who most push themselves into that kind of mold have been in LA rather than Portland. But even if you don’t outwardly look like a Barbie doll, I still think that those ideas get deep in your head. I read those magazines as a kid and didn’t realize they were silly until I got older. And it’s really in the general fabric of society to talk about women’s appearances and if they’re bad or good at things. That was why I thought it would appeal to lots of different people because you all know about these stereotypes, whether or not you believe them or try to push yourself into them. You definitely know about them if you live in America.

Some of your book’s most hilarious jokes could also be seen as pretty offensive. Do you ever worry about crossing the line?
Even though it appears to be offensive, and I’m sure it is, I really do think a lot about that, and I would hate to ever make someone feel bad. Maybe it’s a silly distinction, but even when I’m really making fun of something that’s hot-button, like the Holocaust or religion, I’m hopefully trying to turn the joke back on myself, or I’m trying to joke in a way that’s supporting the victim. I wrote this thing in my book about Todd Akin talking about “legitimate rape.” He said a few years ago that pregnancy from rape isn’t a real thing because if it’s legitimate rape, the female body will shut that whole thing down. And while it still is possibly offensive to talk about rape in any capacity, I wrote a thing that hopefully is showing how crazy [Akin] is, and saying that no, rape victims are victims. Usually when I’m doing something outwardly offensive, I’m hoping that, by using comedy and satire, it’s inwardly attacking that institution.

Your dedication section to all your “besties” is 12 pages long. Explain.
There’s a lot of real best friends in there, and a lot of people who may or may not be. That is a quirk that I find very funny but I also do all the time, where I say, “Oh my god, I love that person, they’re my best friend,” and I really do feel it in the moment. But a lot of those people are really wonderful friends of mine. Including all those meth dealers.

Last thing: In your opinion, which is the sexiest molecule?
The best answer is that after I wrote the book, every piece of science from it instantly fell out of my head. A water molecule is an old standard because it looks like a dear old lady with her legs spread, so that’s classic sexiness right there.

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