Hi Dan and welcome to The Phil Factor, one of the top three best blogs by suburban dads. I appreciate you taking time to answer some questions for my readers. For those of you not fully aware of Dan’s work, he is the author of four books chronicling his journey in maturation, or possibly lack thereof, from post college days to becoming a suburban dad. Dan has also been a commentator for NPR, a humor columnist for the New York Times and Huffington Post, and a contributor to many magazines, and not just as a subscriber. In addition to all those impressive accomplishments Dan won the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor for his book Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad, beating out me and Pulitzer Prize winning author Dave Barry, whom I interviewed here in the fall. About Dan’s book, Dave Barry said, “This is the funniest book about parenting I’ve read in a long, long time. Dan Zevin is a major talent. I want to kill him.”
TPF: Did you go to college planning to become a novelist and humorist or is that what happened while you were busy making other plans?
Dan: I studied journalism in college, and by “studied” I mean that I read ROLLING STONE all day instead of attending classes. I was so good at my studies that I landed an internship at Rolling Stone in my senior year. I once rode the elevator with Jann Wenner (the founding publisher) and I’ll never forget what he said to me: “Can you press 15 for me?” In my first book, Entry Level Life, I devote a whole section to teaching post-college kids everything I learned at that internship. It’s called “How To Fix the Photocopy Machine.”
TPF: Are there any funny stories that you couldn’t include in your books in the name of common decency that you could share here?
Dan: When it comes to writing humor, I don’t believe in common decency. Everything I got is in the books. I always say, “The truth shall make you funny.
TPF: Is your family comfortable being unwitting accomplices to your career, or do they ever ask you not to write or talk about things?
Dan: I’m a little concerned that when my son grows up, he’s going to resent me writing about how he used to take a dump in the bathtub when he was a baby. But I feel like it provides a public service for other dads, because I include advice about how to deal with it. I write that everyone should keep a soup ladle near the bath toys.
TPF: When you read, who do you like to read and who do you see as influences on your writing?
Dan: Dave Barry, PJ O’Rourke, David Sedaris, Meryl Markoe, Ian Frazier, Tom Wolfe, Jean-Paul Sartre. Okay, maybe not Jean-Paul Sartre. I just said that to impress you. (And I had to Wikipedia to get the spelling right)
TPF: Cage match fist fight between you and Dave Barry in his prime. Who wins and why?
Dan: He’s in his prime now! Ever since becoming a dad, I have aged 10 years for every one actual year. Dave seems to age in reverse. So he’d kick my ass for sure. But then I’d smash him over the head with my Thurber Award when he started prancing around the ring like Hulk Hogan.
TPF: I read that Dan Gets a Minivan was optioned by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. How close is that to becoming a movie and will you demand at least a cameo?
Dan: They optioned my last book as a movie, “The Day I Turned Uncool,” but “Minivan” was optioned to be a sitcom. The main holdup is getting a big star attached who looks like me. This George Clooney dude doesn’t seem interested; he’s a little high and mighty I guess. Same with Brad Pitts, or whatever his name is. In all seriousness, I’m holding out for Andy Samberg!
TPF: Wow! Great call on Samberg. You guys are like twins. So what’s next for you?
Dan: I am gearing up for a MAJOR roadtrip to Costco. That chapter I wrote about Costco in Dan Gets a Minivan is no joke. It’s my new hang. You’ll find me between the beer aisle and the toilet paper aisle.
Dan, thank you again for supporting another suburban dad with a blog. For my readers, you can find all Dan’s books in real bookstores as well as on Amazon, B&N and the iTunes Bookstore. If you’d like to follow Dan’s blog “The Minivan Diaries” you can find it here. As always, if you enjoy what you read at #ThePhilFactor please share on social media. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil