In the seven years since Tucker Max’s first book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (IHTSBIH), came out, a lot
has changed for him. When the book was released in 2005, Max was a law school burnout, a minor Internet celebrity and a full-time drunken Lothario. While intrigued, many critics were not
impressed by a book that included a story about an anal sex session that turned fecal. Even though IHTSBIH featured many similarly graphic stories, it ended
up selling more than a million and a half copies, spent six years on the New
York Times best-seller list, and inspired a movie of the same name—all while
inventing a literary genre that has come to be known as “fratire,” defined by its
crassly ultra-masculine subject matter.
We spoke to Max about his new book, Hilarity
Ensues, and his rise to fame as one of the Web’s first stars.
We asked Max a number of questions, ranging from his favorite
Southern rap artists to his views on college education. He provided
consistently professional answers, approaching each question with the
same wit and confidence that emanate from his books. While his signature
style was still present, Max seemed more reflective than he once may have, and he showed constant gratitude for his fans and success.
“I wanted to show some
appreciation to my fans and maybe give my potential fans something that they
could look at for free that was a full book, so I put that stuff together,” Max said, referring to his new eBook Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers.
“Even if you have good material, it takes time to develop a fan base as a
writer, especially if you do it the way I did, so outside the system. I didn’t
have any mainstream media outlets or anyone helping me or promoting me, so I
had to earn all my fans one by one by writing good stuff.”
Many of those fans were drawn in by Max’s trademark
vulgarity and frankness, which he freely exhibited when talking about the new
In-N-Outs in Texas.
“I’m not sitting in my car for two hours to get In-N-Out.
Dude, that’s crazy, there is not even p—y worth that, forget a hamburger,” Max said.
It’s comments like this, however, that have led his critics to claim that Max
is simply a popular misogynist promoting a rape culture. His speaking
engagements have been picketed by women’s rights groups, and advertising for
his movie was even banned in some cities for being too offensive.
Perhaps those detractors will be pleased to learn that Max is
moving away from the hedonistic lifestyle that led to his fame. In a recent
interview with Forbes, he revealed that his hard-partying ways lie mainly in
the past, and that he has even taken to practicing yoga and drinking kombucha.
This change in perspective is evident in Hilarity Ensues. It’s a
less overtly comical book, and Max writes in a much more reflective and conclusive
tone. There is an entire chapter dedicated to watching all his friends get
married while he, now in his mid-thirties, has yet to find a partner. It’s not hard, then, to understand why this will
be his last work in the fratire genre, although he plans to continue writing
Throughout Hilarity Ensues, Max, a Duke Law graduate, expresses his opinion that law school is irrelevant. We asked him about the
importance of college degrees today in an unstable economy and with rising
“I think they’re less important than they ever
have been. Going a hundred, two hundred thousand dollars in debt to get a
degree that is basically just a piece of paper signaling status is kind of
stupid for most people. I think the vast majority of people would be better off
definitely not going to law school, [and] maybe not going to college,” Max said.
However, it’s not the Internet and the changing job market that
leads Max to believe this—it’s personal experience.
“I’m the one who came
up that way and I got the degrees, so I know how bullsh— they are. If they were
good or they were worth it, I would know. I would say, ‘Look, you kind of need
this,’” he said. “If you can go to college, maybe it’s fine to have four
years of fun and learn a little bit, that’s okay, but if you have to go two
hundred thousand dollars in debt, that’s not something I would recommend.”
Opinions like this may seem drastic coming from someone whose fan
base is significantly comprised of college students, but being proudly
unfiltered is a large part of what Max has built his reputation upon. Max, being
self-aware enough to recognize that, has begun seeing a Freudian psychoanalyst
four times a week.
“So many people describe my books as just pure id… what
I’m trying to do now is to connect my ego and my superego to my id,” he
said in his interview with Forbes. “I’m trying to understand, why was I doing
all this stuff? Why was I acting this way? Through understanding all of that,
you start to resolve the underlying problems that you’re acting out in a
healthier, more productive way.”
Even if Hilarity Ensues isn’t quite as
much id as his fans may have hoped for, it is a solid complement and conclusion
to an impressive body of work.
Our full interview with Max appears on chillrage.tumblr.com