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Last Updated on December 5, 2022 by Jella Erhard

“I am a very strange but entertaining woman who will make you feel better about yourself by comparison.
I fight with depression and anxiety and a host of other disorders,
but my strongest weapon is a dark and baffling sense of humor.
And a chainsaw. Just in case zombies turn up.”
Jenny Lawson

Mental illness and comedy. The two usually don’t walk hand in hand. Well… not in public, anyway. However, Jenny Lawson changed the game forever. Here you can read more about Jenny’s favorites, influences, and work process and get to know her a little bit better.

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Pop culture Closer: Have you ever wondered what your favorite artists’ working processes what are they reading, or about their influences, favorites, and what they were listening to while writing your favorite stories, or what superpower they would want? Then check out our fun Pop Closer interviews with beloved and talented artists including musicians, authors, filmmakers, scientists, and visual artists, and peek behind the scenes.

“Like my grandmother always said, “Your opinions are valid and important.
Unless it’s some stupid bullshit you’re being shitty about, in which case you can just go fuck yourself.”
Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson interview (Small)

Every artist has a different journey, reason, and agenda. However, one common thing often seems to link many ofthem together; (no matter which part of our world they were born or raised) mental illness.

I wanted to talk about this issue not just because Jenny is one of my all-time favorite artists but also because it affects approximately one in four people and it’s the third leading cause of death in many countries around the world.

Yet, admitting to having issues is still a taboo. While talking about mental illness got more accepted over the years most people still feel shame when they have to talk about it publicly.

Some of these artists were born with their issues and some had to deal with them because of traumatic events in their lives. They all taught me how art can help me process and turn my pain into something beautiful, something positive.

RELATED: Pop Closer: Interview with Tamsyn Muir

If you’re someone who’s also interested in the subject you should also check out these three inspiring TED talks on the subject; Ji-Hae Park, Amanda Palmer, and Lidia Yuknavitch. While every single one of these artists had a different path to success there are undeniable similarities too.

So what makes Jenny so special? She teaches you not only that you don’t have to hide your pain and your weirdness but also shows you how to turn them into something special and positive while also showing you how to accept imperfections and even learn to love them.

“Don’t make the same mistakes that everyone else makes. Make wonderful mistakes.
Make the kind of mistakes that make people so shocked that they have no other choice but to be a little impressed.”
Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Art is a form of therapy either if you’re a receiver or a creator. In her books, you’ll follow Jenny’s unusual childhood, girlhood, and adulthood not just as a grown woman but as a successful mother, wife, and author. Writing gave Jenny a way to cope and to find connections in her lonely hours.

This is why it’s so important to support, read and talk about artists, creators like Jenny Lawson, Amanda Palmer or Felicia Day. Who carve new ways for art and show us its true importance and a new way to connect with each other in a world of technology where it’s way to easy to feel lost and alone. The internet can be a good place and it should be. It only depends on how we choose to use it.

Some of Jenny’s most popular books are You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir. My first read from her was Furiously happy. I finished the book in a day and ran out to buy Let’s pretend this never happened.

I laughed, I cried, I got awesome tips but most importantly I felt not only understood but it also got me into this “judgment-free bubble”.  It really gave me new perspectives and helped me to be more honest not just with others but firstly and more importantly with myself.

Jenny Lawson Interview

AC.:  Since when do you write?

Jenny:  I’ve always written. I’m painfully introverted so writing is the best way for me to communicate. 

AC.:  Do you remember your first interaction with art? When did you first know you want to become a writer & why?
Jenny:  When I was in junior high everyone had an hour to write a story. When the hour was over I didn’t want to turn it in because I was too invested in it and I wanted to finish the story. It was one of the first times that I felt I was being pulled in by the words. The story wanted to be told, if that makes sense.

AC.:  What would you like to express/achieve with your work? What is your ultimate goal?
Jenny:  I often feel out of place or alone. Writing helps me get those feelings out and I’ve been so lucky to have so many others say “I thought it was just me!” Suddenly I’m surrounded by strange and wonderful misfits. It’s a good thing.

AC.:  Do you think it is better to be a writer these days or was it better in the past?
Jenny:  I think part of why I’ve found such a great audience is because social media is around and I was able to find my voice in an organic way. I’m not sure that could have happened in any other way.

You Are Here An Owner's Manual for Dangerous Minds Paperback by Jenny Lawson
AC.:  What is your favorite genre of music to listen to while writing? Or do you prefer silence?
Jenny:  I don’t listen to music because I find it distracting but I listen to pink noise (on youtube) and it helps me focus through distractions.

AC.:  What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Jenny:  Writing.

AC.:  What is the best part of it?
Jenny:  Having written.

AC.:  What inspires/motivates you?
Jenny:  Reading great books. A great book makes me want to talk back to the author and share my own stories. AC.:  How do you come up with new ideas for blog posts/books?
Jenny: I write about life so I usually just wait for something strange to happen. Weirdness will find you if you know what you’re looking for. It’s all about perspective.

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

AC.:  Has your style changed over the years?
Jenny:  It’s become more distinct, I think. I’ve become a bit better at editing. I used to find it hard to delete work but it’s so important to clean out the stuff that doesn’t work. Hard, but important.

AC.:  What other artists /writers influenced you?
Jenny:  Right now I’m reading a lot of authors I love because they inspire me. Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Samantha Irby, Mary Roach.

AC.:  If you could steal credit for any great piece of art which one would you claim?
Jenny:  Grumpy Cat.

After you read her books you won’t be the same… because even if you fell into your biggest, darkest, scariest hole you’ll know you’re not alone, there is no shame in asking for help, and that one day -maybe- you will find a way to laugh the whole thing out of your system.

I Choose Darkness A Holiday Essay by Jenny Lawson

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A big big THANK YOU to Jenny and her awesome & kind assistant Lisa as well!

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Thank You For Reading!