Author/performer Jillian Lauren and comedian Melinda Hill, proprietors of the conversation website EatMyPodcast.com, aren’t interested in their interviewees’ plans to end poverty, build life-saving androids, or replace Texas’ Science textbooks. Rather, they’ve built their empire on the most important question there is: “when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?”. So far, the two have reminisced with such quirky individuals as Mishna Wolff (author of the humor-memoir I’m Down, an account of growing up as a racial outsider in an all-Black neighborhood), and super-petite burlesque star/model Selene Luna.
The two ladies met thanks to a love of pop/rock band Weezer (Lauren’s husband is bassist Scott Shriner, whose best friend Melinda dated)—“we both want to make sure to point out that we didn’t start dating either Scott or his best friend when they were both playing with Vanilla Ice’s rock project”—and hit it off. “…Melinda and I started discussing our obsession with biography TV,” says Jillian, “[and] somehow the idea emerged that it would be fun to start our own interview show”. When asked who their dream interview subject would be, Melinda says “Jillian would like to have Barbara Walters on […] she’s still nursing a resentment from the time Barbara called her a hooker about twelve times in a row on national television”.
Jillian Lauren is the author of the controversial, bestselling memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, which details her life as spent in a, well, harem, in Borneo. Her latest work is the novel Pretty, and her writing has also been featured in The New York Times and Vanity Fair. She is also a stage performer, and started her career as a starving actress at NYU. Her blonde counterpart, Melinda Hill, is a stand-up comedian who has appeared on various comedy outlets including the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and lends her voice to the animated series Adventure Time.
What are your goals for the show? How far would you like to take it?
We’d like to be the first podcast on Mars.
Where do you find inspiration for your work, be it written, spoken, or performed?
Dreams, Nick Flynn, old Stones albums, really good smoothies…. It’s coming at us all day every day.
Jillian: Congratulations on the success of your books, as well as your acting career so far, I’ve had a chance to check out some video online and love it! Your story is, obviously, unique and intense in a lot of ways, but it’s inspiring that you have turned it around in such a positive way, and are even able to share some of the things you’ve experienced. What’s been the driving motivation of making your story public, even when it may be hard to do?
Thank you! I think it’s important for women to be truthful about their lives, particularly women on the fringes of society, who often keep silent because we’re led to believe that our stories are something to be ashamed of. We let our stories be told by others, usually men, and we wind up repeatedly being the bodies left behind by serial killers or the hookers with the hearts of gold. I wanted to tell my own story. I wanted to portray the complexity of the experience and to present an emotional journey that I believe will be familiar to many women, even those to whom the events of the narrative may seem outrageous.
Melinda: How did you get your start in comedy? I’m a fan of your work with Wheelchair Cat, and Adventure Time (so is my little brother).
Thanks, I so appreciate that. I started as an actress with a theater scholarship, doing tons of plays and local commercials. When I moved to LA, I played a lot of crying messes in independent movies and “Crying Motel Girl” in a Creed video and I had to cry every night in a play I was doing called “Three Sisters.” I was just so tired of crying! My acting teacher told me I should start doing comedy because I was “accidentally funny.” So I took a class at the Groundlings and instantly loved it. It was so much more fun and less taxing on my spirit to make people laugh. Ironically, as a comedian I went on to be cast in Reno 911 as “Crying Biker Chick.”
Jillian: Are you currently working on any major literary projects, and if so,
can you tell us anything about what’s up next?
I’m currently working on another memoir. This one is loosely about coming to the decision to adopt my son, but that’s all I want to say about it because it’s still a tiny seed of an idea and I don’t want to squash it by over-talking it.
Melinda: If you could share screen time with any performer, who would it be?
I’m really only doing comedy to meet my real father, who I have reason to believe is Howard Stern. When I’m sharing the stage or screen with anyone, I’m really just looking for DNA: a strand of hair, a mouth-print on a cup.
Jillian: Tattoo sleeves are always digable on a lady. What’s the story behind
Tattoos are history. They’re documentation. They’re narrative. All the stuff we’re exploring with Eat My Podcast. So I make no mystery about where my interests lie!
Melinda: Where would you like to see your career take you? Vegas? The big
screen? The Oval Office?
The big screen TV in the Oval Office.