A profile of beloved food writer J. Kenji López-Alt, who uses science to perfect cooking methods and is opening a beer hall in Silicon Valley.
“The real question when it comes to Franco ‘isn’t whether or not he’s legit. He’s legit. It’s whether or not he’s insane.'”
“I started in Woodbury and then my parents divorced and we moved to Syosset, next door. They separated when I was in sixth grade, got back together, then separated again between eight and ninth grade, I think. Everyone in my neighborhood, they’d start out living in a big house and then their parents would divorce and they would move to a condo a mile away. The condos were filled with all the divorced families. I found a poem recently that I wrote when I was 15, called ‘Divorce.’ I wrote it when I was a dishwasher at a comedy club on the weekends. It’s so funny but it’s so sad. It predicts my entire life.”
They’re identical twins, both world-renowned beer makers, and they hate each other:
The Danish press has caught the conflict’s biblical whiff, casting Mikkel and Jeppe as sworn enemies. Thomas Schon, Mikkeller’s first employee, told me that the twins suffer from a pronounced personality clash: “It was a big relief for Mikkel when Jeppe moved to Brooklyn. It was like the Danish beer scene wasn’t big enough for the two of them.” Mikkeller’s operations manager, Jacob Gram Alsing, said that the subject of Jeppe “is very sensitive for Mikkel to talk about.” Mikkel himself put it this way: “You know Oasis? The Gallagher brothers? They were one of the most successful bands in the world, but those guys had problems with each other.” With twins, he said, “it’s a matter of seeing yourself in another person, and sometimes seeing something you don’t like.”
Joke-telling as a muscle:
“Since Richard Pryor, at least, confession has been prized in stand-up, and this is as true today as ever. The biggest stand-up story of 2012 came this summer, when the comedian Tig Notaro took a Los Angeles stage and wrung laughs from a saga of personal misery that included the sudden death of her 65-year-old mother followed by a breast-cancer diagnosis. At Seinfeld’s office, I asked him what he’d do, onstage, if he had a month like that, and I appended a ‘God forbid’ to the question. ‘Thank you for “God forbid,” ‘ he said. ‘I love it. Hilarious. You have to say that.’ He clapped his hands with delight. ‘If I had a month like that, I’d do a whole bit about “God forbid.” ‘”
The comedian on his early influences, stand-up career and his hatred of traditional sitcom writing:
“I was explaining to my girls, we went by a Chinese restaurant that has the big LED sign, and it has this sweeping pattern, then flashes red, then blue, then blue sweeps across from left to right, right to left, red sweeps across, and they said, ‘How does it do it?’ and I said, ‘There’s a circuit, somebody writes a program that tells the stupid lights to do this pattern, and they burn the program onto a circuit, and so that circuit just keeps taking this one trip.’ So there’s a guy on every show that does that, he has his one way, he has his variety, about eight different joke formulas, and you refill them with different stuff. He’s either the dumb guy or, like, Lisa Kudrow’s character on Friends or whatever. ‘I thought coffee was from Brazil.’ ‘Ugh, no the guy’s name is Coffee. He’s from Italy.’ Garbage like that. Then you start building the story, then you go away on an act break. Then you build a third act that just is the train wreck of not really much fun, but it pays everything off, it leaves everybody feeling exactly the same way they left, that they felt before the show started. That’s what shows are meant to do, is leave on par and leave a few jokes behind, to be printed in Entertainment Weekly’s sound bites.”
The whole Justin Bieber thing is a complex, bizarre incident. First of all, I was totally into Justin Bieber in a way that was really unappealing to anyone who knows me as a woman in my thirties. I was constantly going, “Omigod look at this video; he’s so cute! Come see how cute he is!” I was super excited about this assignment. Typically, I fly to these places and throw on a pair of pants and could care less what the subject thinks of my relative attractiveness, and for him I literally bought a skirt and got an iron and ironed it and put together a cute outfit. Then of course when I saw him I couldn’t believe what a pedophile I was. I was like, This is a child. A true, actual child. I’m clearly not interested in him anymore. It was some midlife crisis thing for me. And, look, it works on all these women, I’m not alone in it.