JH: You’re absolutely right. You can’t write a meaningful fake fact unless there’s some shrapnel of authenticity. Even though a lot of my humor, particularly in those books, was rather absurdist, it was always designed to reflect whatever my preoccupations were.
RS: A lot of the best comedy is based in an anxiety about the human condition.
JH: Well, I don’t care about other humans. I’m an only child, so I’m a member of the super-smart narcissist club. And I became, like most people who turn 40, overly preoccupied with my human condition and the fact that I was not going to be alive forever. And the fact that that was dovetailing with the Mayan apocalypse online mania kind of got me remembering my fascination with post-apocalyptic dystopian movies, and I thought that it would be fun to predict the end of the world. If you’re over 40, the end of the world is very comforting, because even though you’re gonna die at least you get to take everyone else out with you.
But as you know, it didn’t happen as I predicted it would. And even though I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen, there was a part of me that got a little bit worried. I stand in a long tradition of failed doomsday prophets but the reality is someday one of us is going to be right. But when it didn’t happen I felt like I was coming out of a bunker and not knowing what to do with the rest of my time.
RS: I want to talk a little bit about Twitter, since that’s sort of the venue in which I know you, strangely. You have a rather voracious online presence. Did you see the Louis C.K. bit on Conan and what is your response to that? How much is the Internet part of your actual identity versus your job identity?