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Why comedian Julie Klausner has kissed too many frogs

dushan milic The Globe and Mail

My enduring pursuit of the opiates provided only from male attention, glorious male attention, has destined me to a lifetime of displays of unseemly and comically humiliating behaviour.

Comedy writer Julie Klausner says she spent most of her 20s taking dating cues from Miss Piggy, "chasing every would-be Kermit in my vicinity with porcine voracity."

There was Colin, the vegan lead singer of a noise band who lectured her on new media; Alex, an asexual freelance music reviewer; Rob, an actor who barred her from poking around the mammoth Star Wars collection he kept in his tiny apartment; and Ben, a slob who microwaved old tea and kept Penthouse magazines stacked around his bed.

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The escapades are catalogued in Ms. Klausner's new memoir, I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated.

The author, who used to pen jokes for Saturday Night Live, sees a Kermit in all of the men, who gave in to her pushy advances but ultimately preferred hanging out with friends and pursuing their own projects, just like Kermit did on The Muppet Show. The fuzzy green frog, she writes, could just be the "model of modern masculinity."

Ms. Klausner, now 31 and living in New York, spoke with The Globe and Mail about why young women are having trouble quitting the Kermits.

You write that after you watched The Muppet Movie as an adult, Kermit reminded you of the 'vintage-eyeglass-frame-wearing guys … who pedal along avenues in between band practice and drinks with friends, sans attachment, oblivious to the impending hazards of reality and adulthood.' Do you think more men are enjoying a protracted state of adolescence because they don't have to support women?

It depends on what growing up means, because sometimes that just means being able to support yourself. I do think that the bubble has burst, and people do need to get with the program if only because the economy necessitates it, but at the same time we're idolizing younger and younger pop culture icons and it's definitely taken its toll.

You write about this generation of men who would rather watch YouTube videos with their buddies all day than pursue women. When did these guys start popping up?

There's a really interesting book called American Nerd by Ben Nugent. He traces the cultural history of the nerd and goes back to the fifties and sixties but mostly the seventies where you had Woody Allen doing standup. From the late eighties into the nineties, alternative music went mainstream and you had grunge drag where you saw Kurt Cobain wearing lipstick and a dress. Then it switched in the mid-nineties to indie rock and all of a sudden you had these grown men dressing like kids and hemming and hawing. At the same time you had these shuffling emo adults.

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Has the Kermit/Michael Cera-type replaced the bad boy for women?

There have always been bad guys and nerds. It's just more acceptable now, in a mainstream way, to be sheepish about pursuing romantic intentions with women.

Is the Kermit man an urban condition? Do Kermits exist on the farm?

I've never been to a farm - I've bought fruits and vegetables at a stand in the Catskills on a weekend. I imagine it is [an urban condition] but at the risk of sounding like a blue stater dripping with contempt, isn't that where culture is created, in urban environments?

Your argument is that women reared on feminism now find themselves 'at the mercy' of men who don't know what's expected of them. Why is it feminism's fault?

It's not that feminism is to blame, it's that there was no equivalent movement to feminism [for men] Feminism was like working out one arm and then you have this other arm that's really weak. Men have really not known how to respond to feminism.

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You point out that women are also sending mixed messages.

We send mixed messages, they send mixed messages - no one knows how to court any more. I don't think women are responsible for that. I do think that one way to address is to give the next generation of boys more attention and teach them what's expected of them as men.

You describe grown women 'flipping out like teenyboppers' and studying the minutiae of their text messages after a man loses interest. 'It's part of the female disposition to take the blame for failed things,' you write. Why?

Women aren't as entitled as men, inherently. I think it's part of the female dire determinism, women wanting to step in and say, 'It was my fault.' Maybe it has to do with us being overly pro-active.

Which of your boyfriends was the biggest wake-up call?

Ben, the crazy guy, was the end of an era. It was definitely a turning point, and then I decided not to have lunch with the guy who was married. I'm not a drama-seeking missile any more.

At the end of the book, you're evasive about your boyfriend. You write that you don't want to be one of those annoying and ultimately alienating self-help book conclusions.

Totally. When I started writing the book I didn't have a boyfriend. Whether or not I was with somebody didn't really change the point of the book, which was giving people something to relate to. I really felt passionately about going out, dating and doing that whole 'I'm going to say yes to life' thing.

But the boyfriend does exist - you write that he's 'great.' How is he different from the others?

When I met him, it really made me appreciate what a grownup looks like.

Klausner on men:

"A man is hard to find, good or otherwise, but guys are everywhere now. That's why women go nuts for Don Draper on Mad Men."

"There are no more traditions or standards, and manners are like cleft chins or curly hair - they only run in some families."

"The charge you get just from seeing a beautiful face looking back at yours can be enough to make you overlook fatal flaws."

"Meeting Alex on MySpace was only one of the electronically conceived disappointments I've endured while embarking on the task of finding somebody to love me by typing into a box that plugs into a wall."

"Predictably, the men I met who liked being chased were will-o'-the-wisps and androgynous paupers. Boys who worked at bookstores, with no body hair or love handles; virgins and vegetarians, steampunk DIYers who peddled vintage and did Bikram yoga."

"There are plenty of nerds who fear women and aren't sensitive, despite their marketing; they just dislike women in a new, exciting way."

"The horrors of having to make conversation with a woman who's never seen Transformers or doesn't care how the Knicks are doing this season is the stuff of their nightmares."

"Around this time of graduation or evolution or whatever you call becoming 30, I started fending off the guys I didn't like before I slept with them. It was the first change I noticed in my behaviour that really marked my 20s being over. And. Thank. God."

"You don't feel compelled to go out with guys who smell like bad news, and you don't have to do things you know will not be fun, like hauling your ass to a gig for some band you've never heard of so you can spend three hours on your feet, switching your purse from shoulder to shoulder."

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