The FishbowlDC Interview With WaPo’s Petri

Say hello to Alexandra Petri. She writes WaPo‘s humor ComPost blog, a gig she has had since graduating from Harvard in 2010.

While in Cambridge, Petri wrote a regular column for the Harvard Crimson for three years and co-wrote two musicals for the school’s theatrical society. She was also president of the Stand-Up Comic Society, which explains her affinity for silly.

After graduating in 2010, she interned for a second time at WaPo, thinking that after it was over, she’d head to Oxford and study Renaissance poetry (she’s aware this sounds like a great idea in this economy). But while interning, she got a chance to write humor, which her editors noticed gained a following. Lo and behold, they offered her a job.

She says she’s “living the dream.”

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be?

Iced coffee that has been somehow carbonated.

How often do you Google yourself?

Only when I’m awake. All joking aside, you know this is a serious problem because one year it was what I gave up for Lent.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)?

I was always having these awkward moments when the executive editor would walk past just as I was returning a read newspaper to the rack at Caribou Coffee without paying for it. I’m not sure that counts as saying anything, but my awkward scuttle away and his bemused expression both spoke volumes.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

Working? As opposed to malfunctioning? I hope you ask about my favorite malfunctioning journalist next! I have lots of those!

I love Gene Weingarten’s feature writing with the passion of a thousand suns.

[Strangely, FishbowlDC’s Peter Ogburn is crouched in a corner screaming from this answer.]

Find out about Petri’s favorite word (it’s a real gas) and the extended New Years Resolution she once had after the jump…

Do you have a favorite word?


Listen to that word. So beautiful. It sounds like vermilion or velvet or carnation or some quality you ascribe to your beloved.

It means fart-inducing.

You’re walking down a dark alley and you run into a group of people, all of whom you’ve insulted on your blog. What do you do? What do you say? And do you activate your mace?

I start apologizing profusely. Then I pull out the mace, which unhelpfully is not the spray but instead the kind of mace issued to medieval bishops. I start waving it around in what I hope is a threatening manner. Then hopefully they realize I am more to be pitied than censured and leave me alone.

Who would you rather have dinner with – WaPo’s Erik Wemple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi or MSNBC’s Ed Schultz? Tell us why.

Sometimes I have dinner with Erik Wemple by mistake because we share an office, so probably the Salahis, just because, you know, I worry about them, and it would be good to see how they’re doing. Also, we could crash a dinner together!

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) or former Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-N.Y.). Who do you choose? (None is not an option.)

I would get all three of them in a room and we would maturely and seriously discuss our genetic compatibility. There’s no time for romance! The future of the planet is at stake.

What swear word do you use most often?

Dagnabbit! Also “Gadzooks.” I swear like a sailor, assuming the sailor in question died in 1800 and was really square.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.)

Ooh! Baratunde Thurston, because he’s awesome and great, Alyssa Rosenberg, because she’s awesome and great, Lindy West because of the aforementioned reasons and I admire her bold use of all caps, and George Lucas, because then I’d be in the same room with George Lucas!

Now for a really serious moment: What is your dream job, money and practicalities aside?

Writing Star Wars: Episodes VII-IX. Seriously. Failing that, some variant of what I do now, but where more of my plays get produced and I travel the country more on zany adventures and have a book out.

To borrow from Politico’s “Answer This” (with a FishbowlDC twist): Picture someone in Washington who you’d like to strangle (if such a thing were legal). Without naming him or her, please tell us what you think of them.

He looks like a hairy ottoman. He has all the personality of a fart. I don’t even want to strangle him because sometimes people enjoy that.

When you pig out what do you eat?

CapMac DC’s classic mac and cheese. It’s like kissing the face of God.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it.

I have possibly four pairs of those tights from American Apparel with typographical symbols on them. I love them an inordinate amount. Usually the best explanation for my outfits is that I lost some kind of bet, but whenever I have these on I get compliments from strangers.

Pick one: Kim, Khloe, or Kourtney?

Khloe, because her consonants have to work the hardest.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

I think once, in Atlantic City? I don’t think she was licensed. She said if I dated anyone that year I would have to marry him. It was very Gilbert and Sullivan.

Have you ever had a near-death experience?

I don’t think so, but anyone who’s driven with me disagrees.

Ever been arrested?

Not to my knowledge. Phoebe at 1-800-Extenze Male Enhancement did threaten to contact the police if “Franklin Delano Roosevelt” called the hotline again though.

Tell us a secret not many people know about you.

Once, as my New Year’s Resolution, I telephoned the Extenze Male Enhancement hotline every day for a month.

What scares you?

“All relationships end in break-ups or in death.” This doubles as the answer to the question, “What do you sometimes whisper to those overly affectionate couples on the subway?”

What’s your most embarrassing career moment?

Well, Rush Limbaugh still hasn’t taken me up on my offer of a sandwich after that time he denounced me on the air.

Have you ever been fired?

Not to my knowledge.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes?

This has happened a lot in the past week and I can’t remember the reason for either. Good laughs melt out of memory pretty quickly.

When and why did you last lose your temper?

I really don’t. I think the last time was during the college application process when someone suggested putting “International Diamond Thief” as my occupation was not the ground-breaking joke that I thought it was. As [English playwright] Noel Coward says, “I can take any amount of criticism, so long as it is unadulterated praise.”

Who would you want to play you in a movie?

Jennifer Lawrence! But only on the condition that we could hang out afterwards.

Oh, wait, if hanging out afterwards comes with this deal, then, uh, Michael Fassbender. We’ll make it work somehow. [Fassbender is a German actor who played Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglorious Basterds.]

Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it?

There’s my signed photograph of Mark Hamill…[Best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars.]

Who should just call it a day?

Abraham Lincoln. You’ve done enough, dude. Let Rutherford B. Hayes be in a few movies.

What nickname do you wish everyone would call you?

“Turd Bargleface.” Oh wait, WISH everyone would call me? Hmm…

A question from Washington Free Beacon‘s Adam Kredo: Who is the best known media personality you’ve been intimate with?

I once proposed to Megan Amram in a hotel… [Megan writes for NBC’s Parks and Recreation]

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. This one may live on indefinitely. Make it good.

What’s in your bathroom?