Writer at VH1’s Best Week Ever
“I’m the Vincent van Gogh of pussy jokes.”
In a matter of two years, Erin Ryan (above right with two Best Week Ever cast members) went from working in finance and commenting on Jezebel stories in her free time in Chicago to landing a full-time gig at the Gawker Media site in New York City. Shortly after she moved, she was recruited to write for VH1’s hilarious weekly pop culture show, Best Week Ever. It didn’t exactly happen like “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo“—there were some interviews involved—but it still reads like a crazy-serendipitous millennial Cinderella story. The moral? Be really good at being funny on the Internet.
Let’s talk about college. I went to Notre Dame and majored in English. I picked it because I enjoyed reading good books and was always decent at writing, although I never thought I’d do it as a career; my extracurriculars were all musical and singing-related. College was fun, but if I had it to do all over again, I’d probably advise 17-year-old me to attend an urban school rather than a private Catholic college in fucking Indiana.
What was your first job? The summer I turned 14, I worked as a locker room monitor at the community pool in my tiny Wisconsin hometown. Basically, I flirted with my crush, who was the boys’ locker room monitor, listened to all the summer pop jamz of 1997 on the local pop radio station and once gave myself a concussion because I slipped and fell in the hallway between locker rooms during a game of tag with the aforementioned crush. Despite the brain injury, I didn’t hate it at all!
What about your worst job? For about four years in my earlier 20s, I worked as a stockbroker and then a stockbroker’s assistant at Merrill Lynch in Chicago. Here is what wasn’t awful about it: I didn’t hate the people I worked with, free lunch most days, good insurance and I got out of work at 4:30. Here’s what was awful: everything else. It was a bad fit for my skill set and personality, made my soul feel dead, and, on a minor but still very irritating note, almost irreparably impacted my wardrobe. When I moved to NYC to pursue writing, I threw away probably 3/4 of the clothes I owned because they looked like Ann Taylor’s deformed afterbirth.
What’s your dream job? Tom Hardy’s chest masseuse. Seriously though, in my wildest pot-addled daydreams I’d want a career that was part Tina Fey, part Melissa Harris-Perry, part Stephen Colbert—writing incisive, funny, political stuff for a wide audience from a distinctly female comedic perspective. I want to convince people to understand a specific viewpoint without them knowing that’s what’s happening because they’re laughing so much. I’m not sure that job exists, but maybe it will before I’m dead.
A job you would never want? There isn’t a job I’d refuse to do, because I’ve got this restless, have-to-be-moving sort of personality and can’t think of anything I’d like less than never having to or being able to work again. I’d be pretty sad if I was forced by necessity to leave the creative/media field, though. But I probably 100% for sure wouldn’t want to be Tucker Max’s ghostwriter. There.
So, how did you get this job? I moved to New York for my job covering politics for Jezebel, which I had actually gotten because I was a commenter the founding editor, Anna Holmes, liked. (I was the weekend editor there for a year before I was hired on full-time, so it’s not like they were like HELLO FUNNY LADY WRITE ABOUT POLITICS!)
Anyway. Last summer I got an email from a staff writer at VH1 who had been reading my byline and thought I was funny. So I met him for coffee and he explained the Best Week Ever project, asked if I’d be interested. [Note: Best Week Ever returned to television in 2013 after going off the air in 2010.] I wasn’t sure at first, because I was really invested in the 2012 election and was happy at Jezebel. But eventually the idea that this was a positive move won out. I ended up submitting a packet just to see how I would do and got called in for an interview. A few weeks later, I got offered the job. I took it.
Follow Erin on Twitter.