Every year here at The A.V. Club, we ask some of our favorite actors, musicians, and comedians to answer your romantic queries for Valentine’s Day. The results can be both dark and uplifting, and we hope we’re doing at least a little romantic service to our question-askers, if not the general reading publication.
This year we enlisted comedians and close friends Kate Berlant and John Early, late of Vimeo’s 555, for the task. They approached it with vigor and wit, and you’ll hopefully find their answers, below, to be both charming and a little educational.
Happy Valentine’s Day, A.V. Club readers. We love all of you.
Dear John and Kate,
I slept with a comedian on and off for a few months. He moved away and while he was gone I started doing stand-up. Now he’s back and I keep seeing him at open mics. How do I do jokes in front of him without peeing my pants?
John Early: Keep doing it.
Kate Berlant: He probably sucks.
JE: There’s a 95 percent chance that he sucks, so I would just keep doing it. I wish she was here right now. I can’t tell if she’s worried about not being sexy when she’s doing jokes or…
KB: Or doing jokes about him? I don’t get it. I mean, that’s scary, but it always sucks to do stand-up.
JE: Exactly. Especially in front of someone you’re sleeping with. That is hell. But if he’s worth your while, he’ll love it.
KB: He’ll love it.
JE: And if he doesn’t love it, oh, well.
Dear Kate and John,
I am a sophomore in the Interior Design program at K-State University, the most religious and country school of the big state universities in Kansas. I am a proud feminist and find it hard to meet boys that aren’t country as hell (and generally Republican), frat bros (many of which are Trump supporters), or gay men (who have my idea of a full package without the ability to ever actually love me). Do either of you have any suggestions on how to meet guys that share my views, or should I just wait it out and find love after college?
KB: Come over, I’ll set you up.
JE: I hope she finds comfort. Maybe she can find comfort in the fact that I never had any long-lasting relationships in college. And I was living in New York.
KB: Oh, my god!
JE: No boyfriend, and I went to college in New York so that I could have a boyfriend. I did not care about my academic life, I did not care about pursuing the arts. I was 18 years old, and I was like, “Within a week, I will have a boyfriend.”
KB: I was in shock upon graduating from college to be like, “Oh, I never had a boyfriend in college.” I mean, it’s sick. It’s sick stuff.
JE: It’s hard.
KB: It’s a sick world.
JE: It’s a sick world, Amanda, but we’re also living in a new world where you don’t get married in your 20s, unlike our parents, and so you have to just trust that it’s going to take a lot longer than the storybooks you read.
KB: And good for you for not wanting to date Trump frat-boy monsters.
JE: Do not settle.
KB: Don’t let them talk to you, don’t let them touch you, don’t let them exist.
JE: Absolutely. Just hold out.
The A.V. Club: College is a good time to just make out with people and not date them seriously.
KB: Unless they’re Trump supporters.
JE: Unless they’re Trump supporters, in which case you do need to be careful.
My boyfriend told me I could use his car to drive myself and three friends down to D.C. to protest the inauguration, but as of January 18th (the day before we were planning on leaving) he reneged. I understand it’s a pretty big deal to lend out your car, but he was the one who offered in the first place, we’ve been dating for years and also… all he’ll be doing on Saturday is sitting on his ass.
Should I dump his ass for the movement or just go on strike? Can you love someone who says his politics align with yours but when push comes to shove, he’s immobilizing you? Literally? Can a straight white boy ever really be an ally?
An anonymous mad person
KB: First of all, dump him. Second of all, leave him. Third of all, banish him. And I will say I absolutely believe straight white men can be allies.
JE: We know some.
KB: Yeah. Absolutely. But it’s very easy to say from a distance, “I’ll give you my car, go march,” but, like you said, if he’s literally immobilizing you…
JE: That’s really disturbing. Was there an excuse in the question? Was it like, “Oh, my god, I have to go—”
KB: “I’m driving my mother’s coffin to the cemetery.” That is the only reason why. Unless he’s a pallbearer.
JE: If it’s a hearse, then he can get by. I find that question very disturbing.
KB: It’s over. Thank god it’s over; it should be over.
My dearest John & Kate,
I saw La La Land, and it’s safe to say that I was confused by the ultimate message of the movie. To recap—spoilers ahead, sorry—two advantaged, beautiful people fall in love and then decide to part ways to pursue their dreams. Emma Stone gets the career she always wanted and a perfect family, while Ryan Gosling seems to be a successful but lonely jazz man. So, in the end, is it actually worth it to give up on such a deep, personal connection with someone to pursue a professional goal? I recently found myself at a similar crossroads with someone I love and am now worried I’ll become a lonely jazz man.
La La Bland
KB: I would argue they had no connection. The script gave no clues as to any sort of connection whatsoever except eye contact. Eye contact is the only sort of marker.
JE: What was the question?
AVC: Is it worth it to give up love, or potential love, to pursue a professional goal?
KB: Well, I would argue that, if it is love, then it should be helping you achieve your goals.
KB: And so they were never in love.
JE: If a potential partner gives you that ultimatum, then dump his ass. He doesn’t want you to thrive.
JE: I would say it is hard on a dating level—not from experience—to balance career and meeting people. But if someone’s really worth your time, or if you’re truly feeling someone and they’re feeling you, then the career part you deal with later.
KB: I was trying to think of something that rhymes. “He should be fostering you, not—”
JE: “Boss-tering you.”
I have never been in a relationship. I would like to know why you think relationships are worth the time and effort. I have seen it cause a lot of pain to my friends and family. I have seen the effects of divorce up close and personal. It seems to me that relationships bring more pain than comfort to a person’s life.
Why should people seek out relationships when the risk of pain is so high and the reward is so low?
KB: Carrie Bradshaw, I love you.
JE: Yeah, I can’t tell you, because I’ve had a lot of really shoddy, short relationships in my life. But I’ve wondered the exact same thing.
KB: Who hasn’t?
JE: Well, when I was in a relationship, I was full of panic and dread. And then one day it ended, and I’ve been paralyzed with pain for years after. It’s like, “No, I think you’re right. What’s the point?” But also, I do know that human beings need nurturing. Food, water, shelter—
KB: And a big cock, yeah.
JE: And literally someone sticking their cock in your ear. It is necessary to have someone to be tender. It should be a requirement.
KB: Yeah, tenderness and intimacy—really helpful. Life’s hard. It’s really nice to have that. But of course, whenever you’re potentially dating or getting into something or feeling for someone, there’s always that risk. And, yeah, like John said, I’ve had, in the past, people who were monsters who I had no connection with, and when we broke up, I was cut off at the knees for six months to a year and a half. When I couldn’t hold a conversation with them. [Laughs.] It’s really fascinating what we do.
JE: I know. But I would say it’s worth it.
KB: It is worth it!
JE: It is a risk, but that’s part of what makes it so… dare I say “beautiful”?
KB: I’ll say, I’m in an intimate relationship with an ally who’s white-presenting—
JE: Faux biracial.
KB: Faux biracial, white-presenting—and he’s still very able to nurture me. If it’s easy, it’s amazing. If it’s not easy, get out. If you’re fighting, if someone’s making you feel insecure or you don’t know where you stand with them, or if they make you feel uncomfortable, then just get out.
JE: Totally. If he or she or they’re looking for ease, if that’s their guideline in the pursuit of love, then they should be good. If you keep running into people who seem like they’re just going to bring the pain, then, yeah, avoid it.
KB: Avoid it.
JE: Because you know from experience, it’s not good. But just look for ease.
KB: Just look for ease, look for honesty, nothing should be taboo.
I’m a bisexual, and the problem I encounter in dating is I’m not straight enough for some ladies and not gay enough for some dudes. How do I explain my post-binary orientation to my romantic interests? Am I destined to be single 4ever?
JE: Listen, the answer’s in the question. We’re in a total post-binary moment. He’s not alone. The dating scene is about to explode.
KB: I never trust straight men who boast no attraction to men or no confusion. It’s like, get over it. If someone’s hot or attractive, to realize ambiguity and to talk about it, and to be able to relish in the liminal spaces between categories—
JE: Absolutely. Yeah. I don’t know how old this guy is, but I think he may have the wrong apps. There are plenty of non-binary people who would be so into his—both women and men, straight women and gay men—who are more hip to this new queer frontier.
KB: Totally. Most people I engage with are ashamed to identify as straight.
JE: Yeah, literally all of our friends would be mortified to be identified as straight. He’s in good company in this new world.
Recently a girl I thought I was courting was surprised to find out I wasn’t gay. This has been a reoccurring theme throughout my life. I’m tall, slim, not terribly athletic, and dress well, so I see how people arrive at this conclusion using their stereotypes about gay people. How do I change this regular perception of me without sacrificing who I am?
A Man Who Likes Sweaters Asnd Girls
KB: Well, don’t change yourself. And I don’t say that in a cheesy way, because somebody will like to be courted with sweaters or feathers or whatever.
JE: I find it hard to believe—kind of like the last question—that he’s not finding girls that are thrilled to be with someone who’s sensitive and wears nice, warm sweaters. I don’t know what world he’s living in.
KB: Get out of town! You’ll have better luck.
JE: Just move.
KB: Throw a dart at a map.
KB: Go on a trip and honestly reconsider your apps and—
JE: Look, I want to be the good advice guy, but there’s no way that this is real. If he’s approaching sorority girls at a country club, then yeah, maybe.
KB: Because people think he’s gay? Is that it?
AVC: Unless he’s just not aggressive enough? Maybe he’s getting put into the friend arena.
JE: Yeah, that’s a whole other thing.
KB: Yeah, I don’t know. Just keep coming off gay. I swear to god, it doesn’t matter. You’ll be fine.