This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Abbi Jacobson’s Q&A in Chicago for her new book, “I Might Regret This: essays, drawings, vulnerabilities, and other stuff.” She has been on tour promoting the new memoir for the past few weeks, speaking from New York City to Los Angeles.
In addition to this memoir, Jacobson has published three other works: an illustrated book titled “Carry This Book,” and two coloring books, called “Color This Book: New York” and “Color This Book: San Francisco.” “I Might Regret This,” however, is her first real go at writing, but if it’s any indication of her literary ability, I doubt it will be her last.
Though Jacobson is trying to cast herself as an up-and-coming writer, she is best known for her role in the hit television series “Broad City.” She not only stars in the series but, more importantly, was a co-creator and executive producer. Jacobson’s co-creator, co-star and dear friend Ilana Glazer started the show on YouTube, before it eventually took off and was later supported by Amy Poehler. Sadly the show has just wrapped on its last season, but Jacobson has very exciting things planned.
At the Q&A, interviewer Samantha Irby announced her partnership with Jacobson in adapting Irby’s book, “Meaty,” as an episodic series for Comedy Central. Besides writing and her television success, Jacobson also hosts a podcast in association with the Museum of Modern Art called “A Piece of Work.” In the 10-episode podcast, she discusses modern and contemporary art with other artists like Hannibal Burress (co-star on “Broad City”) and RuPaul, the fabulous drag extraordinaire.
During her appearance at the Vic Theater in Chicago, Jacobson explained that she pitched the book as a way of justifying her need for a break. The screenwriter has worked 10 years on her Comedy Central smash hit “Broad City,” and when Season 4 wrapped production, she knew it was her chance to get away. However, as she admitted during the interview, Jacobson is plagued by a badgering work ethic that demands that even her vacations result in some sort of productivity. The end result was a solo road trip that started in New York, ended in Los Angeles and resulted in a book.
The book is a fun, passport-like collection of essays and accompanying hand-drawn illustrations, many of which depict the album artwork of her road trip’s playlist. (She is, apparently, quite the Tom Petty fan.) Despite touring a number of popular spots, Jacobson confessed that she didn’t do what she “was supposed to do” in the states she visited, but instead created her own map with a number of unique points of interest. To make sure the trip had some element of structure, though, she set strict boundaries focused on her health and called her mom periodically to let her know she wasn’t dead.
She began her trip at a quaint bed and breakfast in Ashville, North Carolina. Although the inn was stocked with bottomless coffee, the abundance of caffeine wasn’t enough to distract her from reaching an inevitable realization: “I had never been in love before,” she writes, a vulnerability Jacobson addresses consistently throughout the remainder of the work. The reader soon discovers that it’s her poor luck with love that’s led Jacobson to this solo quest.
She had rainy days and a long, sleepless night in Memphis, Tennessee. Fireworks for the Fourth of July kept her up thinking about “The West Wing” and those girls from high school that bragged about stealing Abercrombie & Fitch. She had happy times in Austin and Marfa, Texas, and of all the places she visited, she loved Texas the most. Jacobson even wrote that she could see herself living in Austin but was not thrilled about the heat. She and Ilana also found their favorite snack of the trip in Austin: Whittington’s Turkey Jerky. They ordered the tough, rope-like jerky in bulk and ate so much that it made Abbi become a vegetarian. And, as Jacobson continued across the country, she stumbled upon something she never thought she would find: love.
Halfway through @abbijacobson's I Might Regret This and I've already laughed, cried, nodded in agreement, and wished I'd taken a trip following the worst break up of my life. Reading this is helping me process some feelings more than I ever imagined. Plus, Broad City history ❤ pic.twitter.com/hORojMbNg3
— Tamara (@yogurtgarol) November 6, 2018
What is so fantastic about the book — besides its comical look into her perfectly imperfect life — is its fearless discussion of vulnerable topics. Jacobson is an early-thirties, determinedly loveless inspiration, but “I Might Regret This” is a confident expression of how being single and successful does comes with its consequences. In her chapter “Working Woman,” she writes, “I over-compensate to cover up the fact that I don’t feel as fulfilled in other areas of my life.”
Whether her goal with the trip was to distract herself or fill a hole of emptiness, the result will bring like-minded readers together to feel less lonely. Jacobson is proud to be where she is because she worked hard to get there; having a husband with kids and a white picket fence was never her idea of success, anyway. In that vein, she is challenging the social construct of gender with her success. “I’m done being polite about this bullshit,” she writes. Maybe, in the future, there will be chapters about love, but for now, all I can ask for is more inspiring work from the exquisite Jacobson.