TEDx Speaker, MOTH Slam-winner & UCB Comedian Author Ruby Karp
Ruby Karp (pictured right with Tina Fey) is a comedian and journalist. She has spoken about feminism on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party and at TEDx. She regularly performs at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater. Karp has written for Hello Giggles, Mashable, The Mindhut and Bustle. She has an advice column on SparkNotes called Ask Ruby. Karp has spoken at the United Nations as a Dove spokesperson, discussed the importance of self-esteem at the It's Our Turn: the Young Women's Conference, has been at panelist at BookCon with Tavi Gevinson, has won a MOTH Slam and was named one of the most successful teens of this generation by Seventeen and Cosmo. Karp was a speaker at StuVoice Live, an organization dedicated to students taking charge of their education. She worked with Kit-Kat to film a short on herself about how she uses her “break-time” better. She has been featured on shows like MSNBC, NBC, HuffPost Live. Karp made her viral debut at the age of four in Human Giant, and has since been a staple at UCB shows like Broad City Live, The Chris Gethard Hour, and ASSSSCAT among many others. She is also the author of Earth Hates Me: True Confessions from a Teenage Girl. The book is considered the handy Lean In for the Rookie generation, on what it's like to be inside a teen's mind, how social media impacts a teenager and what all their "angst" is really about, from an actual teenager offering life lessons.
You were interested in feminism, long before it recently fell into vogue again—what initially got you interested in feminism and issues related to feminism?
My mom co-founded a feminist magazine called Bust in the 90’s, right before I was born. Feminism was something I grew up learning and talking about.
From an early age, you grew up around talented comedians such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Paul Scheer, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson—did you have a similar journey into world of comedy?
In a way—yes. I know those comedians because of UCB and my mom, but I'm like, less than half their ages. So, while they were all on their amazing career journeys, I was finishing middle school. I grew up around comedians and watching comedy, but I only got serious about it a few years ago.
How did you go about obtaining your current literary representation and how did you find the publisher of your most recent book?
I was contacted by you, my current literary rep and you went out with my book proposal to publishers.
Was it daunting to write a book as a high school student—while at one of the busiest performing arts schools in the country—and did you feel like you had some good folks in your corner to help you through it?
Yes and no. It was daunting but that was because I didn’t want to be impressive for sixteen—I wanted to be impressive. I didn’t want it to be something I look backed at and cringed (although, that’s still likely going to happen).
“…teens are just little adults who are feeling too much!”
In Earth Hates Me: True Confessions from a Teenage Girl, you addressed the issues facing every high school student, from grades to peer pressure to Snapchat stories, and unpacked their complicated effects on the teen psyche. What can parents take away from your book about their own kids?
I think the biggest thing I'd want parents to take away from my book is that teens are just little adults who are feeling too much! There is so much going on in the world right now, and we all have access to each other at all times. It's a lot to take in. Please have patience with your kids and try to establish trust between you two. It will make both the life of the parent and of the kid worlds better!
Having written about what it was like being a teenager in high school and now being in college, do you find that many of the truths from your book, Earth Hates Me, still rings true in college and will carry a lasting perspective? Do these same problems begin to follow us further into young adulthood, or even later in life?
100%. My book covers extremely broad topics of life—the stories I tell as examples just happen to be from high school. Subjects like family, friendship, feminism—those don't stop coming up after high school. In fact, they likely get even more prominent as you get older. My book is a reflection on more than just the four years I spent in high school.
“I hope my generation continues to strive to make big changes, and be a generation full of ambition.”
Your book carries the powerful underlying message of, "we are more than just a bunch of dumb teenagers obsessed with our phones"…what do you believe that your generation has given society, or what do you hope for from your generation?
I hope my generation continues to strive to make big changes, and be a generation full of ambition. So far, kids my age have either eaten tide pods or started national movements. It could seriously go either way, but I have high hopes for us.
You were very young to have written a book at the age of fifteen in high school. What do your friends and professors in college think of the fact that you wrote a book at such a young age?
Hahahaha. To be honest, it's been a whole lot of teasing. But, ya know, fuck 'em (am I allowed to say that?)
(Tina Fey interviews Ruby Karp at the Refinery29 book launch for Earth Hates Me)
“...I grew more past the publication of the book.”
Having gone through the book publishing experience, what did you learn—if you could do it all again, what would you do differently and what would you do the same?
I have a lot I would say and change—but that's mostly because I wrote it in the middle of high school and everything was always changing and I grew more past the publication of the book. I would edit my book proposal more—looking back, I'm shocked they picked it up (but super thankful!) But, I loved the house I signed with and I had a really nice, creative process. The deadlines were not easy though. And writer's block will be the death of me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers hoping to become published authors?
Reach out to ten different websites with a pitch of an article, a column, a chaplet, whatever your niche is, every week. By the end of the month, you will have reached out to forty different platforms. You’ll likely get a lot of non-responses, a couple no’s, and maybe one yes. But, all you need is for one person to see your work at the right time. Keep at it and don’t get lazy.