Greg Behrendt is best known for his famous, though disappointing, one-liner addition to Sex and the City and subsequent book, He's Just Not That Into You. But this fast-witted, music loving author is looking to change gears. What we thought would be a helpful conversation full of advice to guide us through the dating desert quickly turned a the story of a man with a band who wants to cover Paris Hilton.
Before Behrendt lands at the Fort Lauderdale Improv this weekend for a string of shows, he took some time to talk with New Times about his true passion, and it's not sitting on Oprah's couch.
New Times: Personally, I have some trouble pronouncing your last name. Is that still affecting you or am I the only one left?
Greg Behrendt: No, you are not alone. It's continual, this thing that I should have fixed before I got into show business, but didn't, and now I am stuck. I wasn't smart enough to come up with a stage name. Coming up in the early standup days, my friends Janeane Garafalo and Zach Galifianakis kept their real names, but theirs are phonetic and mine is just confusing. Even my dad was like, "You should have changed it."
I read that you were roommates with the great David Cross. Did he always leave his dishes in the sink?
Cross and I were roommates for over a year and we were like, so clean. We lived like two dainty old men.
It was one of the most harmonious living situations I have ever had, with a guy that really has his own rhythm. He was a nut but he was a great guy and incredible roommate. That was the time when I first started getting sober, and Cross was a really great friend to me. The only thing is, he would always talk to me when I was on the phone. And this is before cell phones, like, "There is a big piece of plastic, it is at my ear, I am talking into it, and you are really trying to talk to me?"
Just a great guy overall, except for his complete inability to recognize when I was on the phone.
You published the dating book He's Just Not That Into You and threw female minds into a tailspin. How often do strangers come up and ask you for dating advice?
Not that much, because I shaved all my hair off and am barley recognizable. There was a period of time where it was almost daily. Flight attendants would ask a lot because they are gone all the time and have terrible relationships. I don't mind it, it's flattering. Mostly people are pretty cool, but sometimes I get asked "Why does my husband want to have sex with me in some sort of inappropriate way?" Those are the moments where you are like 'Wow, what did I stumble into?' At the same time, it gave me a nice life.
County Grind is all about the local music, so I was pumped to see you are in ska/surf/punk band called the Reigning Monarchs -- are we going to see any shows in South Florida?
It's funny you would ask that, it's what we are working towards. I have decided to dedicate the next year of my life to the band. I'm not quitting my other gigs, but I am going to throw all of my weight behind The Reigning Monarchs. Three weeks ago, we put out a three-song EP and it charted at #1 on Bandcamp for "Punk." We are more surf/ska, but they don't have a category for that. We got offered a tour, and I thought to myself, "What would it be like if I dedicated my life to the band at 49 years old?"
The only thing I ever wanted to do was be in a band, so I am making a documentary about spending 365 days just trying to live the dream. Can we get on Conan? The plan is to start an Indiegogo campaign to record a full length record this winter, start to tour. We want to hit Japan! Just give it our all, and see what we can accomplish in a year.
What music influenced you, and who are you listening to these days?
When I met my wife, she was signing bands at Epic Records. Our life is nothing but music. We have a drum kit in the living room and guitars all over the house. Music is our thing. My influences are The Skatalites, The Clash, Dick Dale. For new stuff, I dig the XX, Cage the Elephant, Santogold, oh, and I am a huge fucking No Doubt fan. I don't really buy full albums anymore; I listen to Sirius alternative stations and Rhapsody, Shazam, what I like, and put on a list of songs. But can't really remember who these new acts are. Let's see... The last song I Shazaam-ed was "Forest Whitaker" by Bad Books.
We want to cover Paris Hilton! Remember the song she put out a couple years ago, "Stars Are Blind?" It's a total ska song! Throw someone who can actually sing on there and put some live music behind it and it's a jam.
Recently, I've been on a kick of reading memoirs by famous female comedians -- who are some of your favorites that I should keep an eye out for?
You know, I don't really think like that. When you go see alternative comics, there is no distinction anymore -- girl comics, guy comics, they are all the same. Amy Schumer and Matt Braunger can sit next to each other. Nikki Glaser is great, you have to check her out and Natasha Leggero I love. They are just all so fucking good. It gives me hope. I love it.
For some reason, I have always remembered you as that guy that had a short lived talk show? How was that experience? Is that something you want to get back to?
No way, I don't want to get back to it. I had a weird career bump -- I got famous for something I didn't mean to and got offered things due to that and they were only things I was getting offered.
I had lost my comic following and no one else was giving me an acting job. I couldn't pitch a show about being in a band and making music, because I was the dating advice guy. I didn't watch daytime television because it's fucking depressing, I never even watched Oprah before I was on it. I never thought about a talk show and didn't know what I was doing or what I wanted out of that experience.
Sony chased me around for seven months, and then the money just got to be absurd, so I agreed. I don't like talking about shit, I want to experience it. I'd rather watch someone do standup or listen to their music then watch people talk. It's a tough gig, the show didn't know what it wanted to do. By the end, we started to figure it out but it was too late. I have a mortgage and kids, and now I am going to do the thing that makes the least money: Play music. But it is what matters to me the most.
Among his many projects, Behrendt is currently penning his memoir, tentatively titled Exile in Girlville. He says it will be about, "my life, relationships with women, and why I'm the guy that wrote that book... Although I haven't really started writing it yet." In the meantime, keep an eye and ear out for the Reigning Monarchs as the band starts their yearlong journey of domination.
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