It might be difficult to imagine, but before the diapers, bottles and strollers, Mom and Dad were… well, just people. Brooklyn-based blogger and comedian Eliot Glazer’s book, My Parents Were Awesome, was published earlier this month based on his hit blog myparentswereawesome.tumblr.com. While comedy seems to be the main fixture on his long resume that includes stints at Buzzfeed, Urlesque, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre, this project (and thinking about our parents) stirs several additional moods.
First things first. Where did you get this idea?
At the time, I was an editor at a website called Urlesque, an AOL-owned blog about memes and web culture. So in working there, I was basically surrounded by constant snark in the blogosphere; that’s just kind of how the web works. It serves a place and it serves a purpose, but while working there, we tried to stay very positive and I decided that I also wanted to create another positive online destination. A common thing on the internet is shared experiences and I think a shared experience that a lot of people have is a cool picture of their parents or their grandparents. Almost everybody has that picture. Immediately after starting it, I was barraged with photos, emails and press, it was great. It was the kind of thing that connected people.
What were your parents’ reactions?
They were very happy. They were one of the first people pictured on the site and they were just very glad to see this idea catching on.
How would you describe your relationship with your parents?
We are just very loud, close Jewish New Yorkers. My sister lives here too. No one ever really wanted to stray too far from home. Obviously, like most teenagers, I was annoying, but I have always loved my parents dearly and they are the best. My sister and I essentially worship our parents.
So, your parents were…?
Pretty liberal and progressive. They weren’t necessarily bumming around at concerts with flowers in their hair; they were kind of like, hippies-lite. They are both from New York, my mom is from Queens and my dad is from Brooklyn. They met at UMass-Amherst, fell in love, and were together for most of school.
As parents, they were bit overprotective, to say the least. It was a very warm upbringing. My sister and I were very lucky. Our parents were always telling us how much they loved us. Of course we fought, but it was never anything serious enough where the next day we couldn’t just forget about it. I was always really thankful for my parents.
What types of feedback have you received from the website and book?
People love the site. I get a lot of people saying, “My parents are still awesome.” It takes a lot of time for us as children to think of our parents and their lives before we came along. I think a lot of people really seem to appreciate that sentiment, and that applies to both parents and kids. Taking a second to pause and realize our parents were individuals before they focused all of their energy on raising us. People seem to value the chance to share something so close to them. We share everything online now, so this is kind of a departure from the type of narcissistic sharing. It’s nostalgic.
How did the site lead to a book deal?
You know, it was amazing because I was approached by agents and publishers just because people realized that the blog had such potential to be recreated as a picture book or a book of essays. I signed with a literary agent and we were picked up by Random House, which was great. It was a tough process only because the assignment was essentially to get 40 essays within a matter of months, get them edited, then get the legalese done with the pictures. It was very daunting but in the end, it was absolutely worth it. It’s happy, it’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s sexy, it’s romantic.
How did you fall into the writing profession?
I studied film and television and media criticism at NYU and after college fell into the comedy scene. I’m currently a performer at the UCB. And also, just like everybody else, I started blogging and paying attention to other blogs out there. I read all of these books about blogging, getting followers, and learning HTML. I also started writing for some freelance gigs while I was working in television. Before long, I was hired by Buzzfeed to write for them where I was an editor for awhile. From Buzzfeed on, I was able to get work at blogs and new media. I was then hired by AOL in 2008 and was there for several years. Now I am at MTV (MTV Buzzworthy) blogging for them about pop music.
What are your plans going forward? Any sequels in the works?
It would be amazing to do more than that. I can’t say that we will just yet, but that would be an amazing opportunity. I think we are just going to wait and see how the book turns out. There are possibilities on the horizon trying it in a different medium or something. Obviously, I would love to see the book sell and see people connect to it in the same way they have connected to the blog. It would be great to see the same thing happen with the book.
What can Daily BR!NK readers do for you?
It would just be an honor to have BR!NK readers read the book, enjoy it, and spread the word. I promise it’s a great book!