If poorly told, even an epic saga of romantic disappointment can become boring. But in the memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band, the grace that stand-up comedian and former Upright Citizens Brigade performer Julie Klausner manages to dredge up within herself shows that while time may not heal all lovers’ wounds, a razor-sharp sense of humor will scrape off their former poignancy.
Klausner memorably blames a functional, healthy relationship with her father for being the root of her problems with the men she’s dated, lusted after, and let go, in the process being driven to “displays of unseemly and comically humiliating behavior.” In her subsequent stories of bad nights out and worse mornings after, Klausner doesn’t spare herself for ignoring warning signs or falling into destructive patterns, but her old loves bear the scars of her acid tongue (except, maybe, for the teenage pen pal she reconnects with at 30).
Distilling a series of conquests down to a line of various undesirables is well-trod ground for a memoirist, but Klausner’s eye for detail sets each scene with painfully real specificity. Simultaneously relating anecdotes and commenting on them, she successfully carries off both voices, as if she’s standing at a bar watching herself chat up that Robert Altman fan from Astoria, while knowing the conversation will only end in his admission of an open relationship. Sometimes she’ll even put that second voice under the scrutiny of a third: One of the book’s howlers is anchored in a chapter in which Klausner is slowly realizing the man she dumped her boyfriend for isn’t all that into being seen with her in public. She mentions that this was taking place around September 11—then breaks in to add, “Hey, don’t you love memoirs? What other genre can footnote an unprecedented historical atrocity as a plot point in a fuck-buddy story?”
That self-awareness nestled within self-awareness illuminates Klausner’s separation from herself; even as she, the character, presses on with her search for a good man, she flags a little, and I Don’t Care About Your Band ends with an abrupt chapter that goes so far out of its way not to be vicious, it feels almost disingenuous. Still, at long last, wisdom arrives to Klausner, coupled with a tinge of sisterly concern. Hopefully she’s held back enough humiliation for a sequel.