Last week, Temple junior John Corrigan, in a matter of a few hours, rocketed from just another student preparing for final exams to the toast/scourge of the Internet. On December 4th, the Temple News published the final installment of Corrigan’s “That’s What He Said,” column. Titled “Time of the month a time of care” and providing a series of ridiculous pointers for guys dealing with the scourge known as the girlfriend’s period, the column went crazy viral.
I sat down with the budding comic (he co-hosts the morning show on Temple’s student-run radio station, WHIP) in the lobby of Temple’s Annenberg Hall on the one-week anniversary of his ascension to meme-hood to find out how he’s holding up under the weight of his sudden fame, what he’s learned from the ordeal, and what we can expect from John Corrigan in the future.
This was reported as your final column.
John Corrigan: It’s not my final column. It was along the lines of Neil Young’s [line from “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”] “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” I was getting a little tired of the relationship idea. I enjoyed thinking of things that people don’t usually talk about—that guys talk about that you wouldn’t read online. But I wasn’t coming up with many more ideas, and I just thought, you know what, it’s the end of the semester, this will be my last relationship one. Although, many “credible” journalists and establishments have recorded it as [my last]. They would be wrong. I will be back with some new ideas [for other types of columns] starting January.
You tweeted something after the column ran, and you had three hashtags. One was “PMS,” one was “Adios” and the other one was “Japan.” What was “Japan” about?
JC: It was an inside joke, and that’s all I’m going to say.
How did the concept for “That’s What He Said” come about?
JC: They asked for people who were interested in writing a column … and I thought it would be fun. My friends liked the idea, a lot of other people liked the idea of a guy’s point of view on things. There was a relationship column last year from a girl’s perspective, so I thought, we’ll do the guy’s point of view. Humorous, I might add. Humorous. Because humor was her idea last year as well.
At what point did you realize that the most recent column was going to be a bigger deal than anything you’d published previously?
JC: I guess I got a text around 4 o’clock the day it came out saying, “Do you see what’s going on?” I was in class and … I don’t have a Blackberry or an iPhone or anything. So I’m like “no.” “It’s going viral.” So I said, “Oh, that’s cool.”
My sense here is that you were going for comedy. Some people found the humor offensive, or they found it not humorous or both. Comedy is tough. Do you have a main takeaway from all of this?
JC: I do. People have asked me if I regret it. And I say, no, because the goal of every writer, as you know, is to strike a reaction. And I feel lucky that I’ve been able to do it on such a wide scale this early into my career.
People have said that you have an old-fashioned attitude toward women, and some have labeled you as insensitive. Do you think they have a point?
JC: No. They don’t have a point. They don’t get the joke.
One of the common reactions to your column is that you don’t actually have a girlfriend. Can we dispel that once and for all?
JC: [Laughs] No, we can’t. Because I’m entertained by it. The only thing I will say about me and my “fake girlfriend” is that we celebrated our two-year anniversary the day it went viral.
How did the column go over with her?
JC: Well, if you believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny and all of this, then you can just pretend how she [reacted].
So you’re likening your girlfriend to Santa or the Easter Bunny?
JC: I’m not.
Right, right. You’re not. Others are. So she read the column, she liked the column?
JC: [smiles, then shrugs, suggesting he’s not going to tip his hand on this.]
Take me through your day last Tuesday. It’s been a week …
JC: It has been a week. A full week may I add. And they’re still talking about it. A full week.
That’s forever on the Internet. When did you write the piece, and when did you file it?
JC: I wrote the piece a while ago. It wasn’t current. Maybe two months ago. So it was just sitting there waiting.
You’d already given it to your editor [a while ago]
JC: I’d given it to my editor. I checked it with a few people before even the editor … girls … guys … thumbs up all around. I’ve got texts, I’ve got emails. “Loved it.” “Gonna show it to my boyfriend so he’ll think I’m not crazy.” “You hit things on the head.” “It was funny.”
What have the last seven days been like for you?
JC: The last seven days have been pretty exciting. I’m enjoying the popularity. And don’t let these other sites fool you, there is some popularity. And, I’m pretty much just thinking about the future. What to write about. How else we can take this to the next level.
So let’s talk comedy. Who are some of your comedic influences?
JC: I’m glad you asked this. Because Louis C.K., George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Rodney Dangerfield, you name them, obviously I’m not saying I’m as funny as them, because they’re legends, they’ve been in the business, they’ve been honing their craft. And I’m simply a 20-year-old college humor relationship [columnist], it’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s a gimmick.… Saturday Night Life. Craig Ferguson. … You need to watch last night and see Kristen Stewart is on Craig Ferguson. Perhaps the most awkward interview of all time. It’s just, I’ll give a shout out to that. There you go. I’ve got the platform, why not make the most of it. [Another influence is] Larry David. And I want this in there. Larry David was interviewed and they said, “Larry, who do you write Curb Your Enthusiasm for? Who’s your audience.” And he said, “This may sound selfish, but I write it for myself.” And I take that with all of my writing. I write to entertain myself and my friends and people along our lines’ sense of humor. So there you go.
You’re obviously going to continue to write.
JC: A lot of people are telling me, ‘”Good luck getting hired.” But I can only look at this as a positive. Not to toot my own horn, but yesterday I got about 450 views on the column. That would have been a career high for me, every other time. That would have been a career high for a lot of writers at Temple News. So I look at this as only a positive thing.
How many pageviews has that one article had?
JC: Right now, more than 41,000.
And right now every one of your other columns is on Temple News’ most-viewed list.
JC: But before this everything was 200 [hits] and lower. Maybe 75. And I’ve done other pieces. A lot of people haven’t talked about that. I’ve done journalism. And let’s say for the record this isn’t journalism. Would you consider this journalism?
So you’re from Philly?
JC: Northeast Philly.
How does everyone back home feel about this?
JC: Nothing but support. Some of the funniest stuff they’ve ever read.
Has your mom read the post?
JC: She has.
What did she think?
JC: Actually, she hasn’t read the post. She’s read the backlash. The positive and the negative. What would be a good way to phrase this? She’s, I would say, entertained.
Do you do any other comedy? Do you do standup?
JC: As a matter of fact. Thank you. If all these people that are in support of the piece want to talk to me about it, I am on Temple’s radio station, it’s called “Fired Up with John and James.” You can hear it on I Heart Radio. If not you can just go to whipradiotu.com.
And what day is this on?
JC: Monday through Friday. We’re off for the break. We’ll be back third week of January perhaps. And I would be thrilled to talk to anyone if they’re still talking about it by then.