The Problem with Our Staff
Q&A with Alexa Loftus, Staff Writer
If you’ve listened to our podcast, you know that our staff is loaded with talented, hilarious writers. We thought we’d give you a chance to get to know them a little better by asking them probing questions about their hopes, dreams, and fears of dying in embarrassing ways. Keep reading to hear how staff writer Alexa Loftus found out she’d been hired and why she’s considered a new life as a park ranger in the Everglades.
So let’s start with the basics. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you were doing before this job.
So I was a freelance writer and actor living and working in L.A. Then the pandemic hit, and then I was just like a reader on my couch, a professional reader. Yeah I was just sort of living a retiree’s sort of lifestyle. I did a lot of worrying, like, “Oh, surely we’ll never be able to work again,” but, you know, at least I had quality fiction.
We’ve talked a lot about our hiring process, but what was it that made you decide to sit down and write your packet?
Well, I found out the packet was just one page of topical jokes. That’s one of my favorite things to write, and I was like, “I’m in. This is like a fun thing for me to do instead of reading on my couch.” Haha, wow, I am gonna sound like a real bum. But no, usually packets are much longer and more tedious, and this was just so straightforward and in my wheelhouse. So I was like, “Yeah, fun. Let’s do it.”
Tell us about actually finding out that you’ve been hired.
After I submitted that first round, it was a while before I heard anything. I kind of didn’t really think about it, and then all of a sudden I got the email for the second round of packets.That really lit the real flame of like, “Oh my gosh, my odds just went way up. LET’S DO THIS THING.” And then, yeah, I just zoned in, and that was all I did for those few days. I woke up, worked on it, went to sleep, and then I paced a lot. Then I got an interview, and then I got the call.
It was interesting because I truly was reading so much in the pandemic, as I mentioned. I had finished like my 50th book of the pandemic or something like that. And I finished it, and I was like, “OK, what’s next?” And I thought, “Well, I guess I’ll start another book.” So I sat down on my bed. It was like three p.m. I started to open the book, and it was so perfectly quiet in my house. It was like I had reached the quietest moment in the pandemic, where I was like, “Wow, I am living in such stillness.” And then my phone rang. It was them telling me that I got the job.
So then you just immediately snapped your fingers and ended up in New York.
I sort of went back and forth because we were remote for those few months. So I was kind of in L.A. gearing up. I assumed I would just live in L.A. for the rest of my life, really. New York was not on the plan, so all of the sudden it was like, not only am I going to be living in New York but working there.
That’s a lot to adjust to in the short amount of time. In a pandemic.
Yeah, especially because I hadn’t left my house in eight months. Then suddenly I’m a commuter on the subway in New York City, it was a 180.
How would you say that this job compares to other jobs that you’ve had?
This job compared to all the other jobs I’ve had — I think Jon Stewart just has such a clear, laser focused point of view that is really assuring, and I don’t know if a job I’ve had has had quite that like laser-focused vision and leadership. It’s very cool.
I’m waiting for somebody to be like, “I fucking hate this job.” It’s the worst.
There’s probably one person? Maybe?
Tell me who it is, and I will schedule a Q&A with them.
You know what? I actually don’t have any guesses. So that’s a good sign. There’s your real answer: The difference between this job and every other job I’ve had, writing or otherwise, is that I can’t think of someone who hates it. There you go. Right? That’s a really good sign.
Unprecedented. OK, shifting gears, what is it like to write about objectively bad news and try to make it funny?
Well, in these times, in these dark times, it is easy to feel like we’re really, truly… screwed. But writing comedy about it makes me feel better about the state of things. It gives me hope that we can at least laugh about it, and it makes it feel worthwhile in some way that I feel like we’re learning, or at least some of us are. So, yeah, hopefully others feel that way while watching it.
When I was really spiraling in the pandemic, I kept thinking maybe I should become a park ranger. My ideal location would’ve been the Everglades.
What is the most surprising thing about this experience so far?
That I now live in New York City. Again, I was a retiree in Los Angeles. Even when I think about if I had to design a totally different life for myself, you know, this was not even on that plan. Do you ever go down that wormhole? When I was really spiraling in the pandemic, I kept thinking maybe I should become a park ranger. I was like, if I can’t work in entertainment again because there’s no more of that, I’ll go down to the Everglades. I’ll get the uniform, and just live among the marsh.
Are you not afraid of snakes, then?
I’m not big on snakes, but I don’t think they would prevent me from pursuing it as a career. This is a detour, but during the pandemic, my boyfriend and I went to Arches National Park, which is in Utah. I hadn’t been able to do live stand-up for so long, and there was this park ranger there who was giving the star show, and he was crushing. It was all outdoors. It was very COVID safe. Everyone was laughing. He was talking about the stars, and I’m like, “That’s the work around. You could do shows. Make the people laugh, even if there is a virus raging.” So that snowballed, and then I’m like, “Oh, well, if I was a park ranger anywhere, where would I want to go?” It’s like, “Well, maybe the Everglades because I like humidity.”
Now we’re getting to the really juicy questions. What habit of yours do you think your coworkers find most annoying about you?
My true hope is that they think I’m flawless. But if that’s not an option, I have mentioned my birthday coming up quite a lot. There’s probably some peer pressure going on for them to attend a dinner. I haven’t said anything about gifts, but you know… so that’s probably something that weighs on them.
What’s the dumbest way you’re afraid of dying? Mine was getting crushed by a revolving door, but I nearly choked to death on a Rice Krispy yesterday. So now it’s that because it would have been fucking mortifying.
I would say 100 percent sinkholes. You know, if I’m sleeping comfortably in my bed and all of the sudden the earth opens up and envelops me, and that’s it? I would just be so upset. When I read about, I get angry because, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s dumb and it’s obviously tragic.
What’s the oddest thing you did as a child?
My childhood dream was to be a figure skater. But we didn’t have an ice rink in my town, so I had no outlet. So I would sort of practice in my living room, like on the carpet. Years later, when I finally got on a rink, I was like, “Oh, all my training has been for naught.”
That’s unfortunate. I suppose you did not make it to the Olympics?
No. Oh, also I would occasionally eat raw butter. There was a brand new butter on a butter dish in the fridge, and I just went in and took a bite out of it. And then my parents were like, “We notice the teeth marks in the butter.” And I was like, “That wasn’t me. I don’t know who did that. Must’ve been another child.”
Oh my gosh. Wait, one time at one of my birthday dinners as a child, we took all the cheese off of the full pizza and rolled it into a ball, and we convinced my friend Megan to eat the cheese ball. And she did. And then she got very sick. She got very sick. And then her mom called my mom was like, “What the hell happened at the pizza party?” And my mom had to be like, “Well, the girls made her eat a giant cheeseball.”
Oh, terrifying. Childhood is rough.
It’s rough and full of dairy.
What’s your dream future episode of the show?
I really do hope we do a college episode. I think there’s a lot there that isn’t… right. That’s sort of a general statement.
That’s a very subtle way of putting it. Things aren’t quite right, with Alexa Loftus
Haha, yes, that is true. There’s almost like so much, where do you even start? I would say the same with housing. Just across the board, housing has just become so impossible and so dysfunctional for so many people. So I’d love to do something with housing. I mean, the criminal justice system. We need an overhaul. We need a major overhaul.