Meet the Internet Famous Teen Who Just Wrote the Guide to Life You Need
Ruby Karp, 17, has been a Teen Expert™ for a decade (even before she was a teen!). Amy Poehler—who happens to be a family friend—cast her in a YouTube series when she was just in elementary school. She then went on to be a teen columnist for websites like HelloGiggles and Mashable, and hasn’t stopped writing since.
This month the high school senior published her debut book, and she spends pretty much every weekend performing at UCB (and somehow manages to fit in homework). How does she do it? “I literally cry 10 times a day,” she explained when we chatted just before the release of the hilarious and painfully relatable Earth Hates Me. Here’s what else she had to say.
Your mom, Marcelle, is a pretty prolific writer. Did you read her stuff as inspiration for your first book?
My mom's magazine, [Bust], when she was there, was all about sex. I'm not allowed to read it until I'm 18. That's the rule. I have to wait until I'm an adult.
That may be the only thing you've had to wait until adulthood to do. Speaking of, how did you break into comedy at such a young age?
My mom was best friends with a bunch of famous comedians before they were famous. They were all kids who'd just gotten out of college, figuring out life in the city. My mom at the time was starting Bust, and they all met at parties and became best friends.
When they started UCB, it was right around the time my mom got pregnant with me. When my dad left, we were there every Sundaynight because my mom had no one to leave me with. My mom would be in the green room, crying. I'd be onstage with Amy [Poehler]. Matt [Besser], Matt [Walsh], and Ian [Roberts]. I was surrounded by comedy from the moment I was born.
That is so crazy.
Only recently did I realize this was a big and cool deal. The reason I started writing wasn't because of my mom at all. Amy was starting Smart Girls, and she needed smart kids to be on her show, so she asked me to do it. That went on YouTube when I was 7. Three years later, it went viral; that was around the time when Molly [McAleer], Sophia [Rossi], and Zooey [Deschanel] were starting HelloGiggles, so they asked me to be the child writer.
A lot of the your stories in your book are super personal. What’s it like to put yourself out there so much?
I would not consider myself an extremely open person when it comes to emotions. But while the stories are very specific to my life, they're all in the realm of things other people have been through. Obviously not everyone has been cast in a play with their ex-boyfriend. But everyone has had to deal with being near an ex when you're not over them, or feeling confused after your best friend doesn't want to be friends anymore.
Yes! It's all highly relatable, and as you're reading it, it feels like hearing stories from your best friend. Did you always want to be a writer?
I wanted to be a rockstar. Writing wasn't a thing for me. I always loved writing, but I was very set on being a rockstar. I started enjoying performing right around the time Amy asked me to do my first monologues at Asssscat, when I was 8. Right around then was when I started enjoying performing. I was a musical theatre kid in school.
As I got older, I realized the lifestyle of a performer was unstable. I was like, "Oh my god, how do I plan to make money as an adult?" So that's what made me fall in love with writing.
Who are the female comedians you love, besides Amy?
Jena Friedman is fantastic. She has very dark humor, and it’s very political. She does what Amy Schumer doesn’t do; when she’s crass, she’s not crass just for the sake of being crass. Shannon O’Neill, the queen of UCB, is one of the funniest women I’ve ever met. Tami Sagher, Aidy Bryant, Sasheer Zamata, Phoebe Robinson, Akilah Hughes, all of them.