‘Perfection Is Awful’ And Other Things We Learned From Kelly Oxford’s Chat With Olivia Wilde

The term “modern day renaissance woman” gets thrown around a lot these days. OK, that’s (thankfully) not true, but were there to be a MDRW Monument, down the street the Sh*t My Dad Says Statue, Kelly Oxford would be its Honest Abe. The Canadian-born writer was an early Internet adopter who began blogging before “blogging” was a household word. She quickly earned a dedicated following of thousands with her hilarious posts about being a stay-at-home mom, a number that exploded once Twitter came around, and here she is now, with 460,000 followers, a screenplay in development, and a new book out today, Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar.

In it, she discusses stalking Leonardo Dicaprio as a 17-year-old, going to Disneyland with her husband and three kids, and, to quote a chapter title, “I Peed My Pants and Threw Up on a Chinese Man.” Last night, Oxford spoke with Olivia Wilde at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York, and we were there. Here are six things we learned, with visual accompaniment from photographer Nadia Chaudhury.


After Oxford sold a pilot to NBC, she wasn’t sure what to do next. She had always wanted to write a book and loved the way people like David Sedaris combined earnestness with comedy, but her love of him, and dozens of other authors, was also why she was afraid to take the leap from Twitter to this “archaic thing” called a book. It wasn’t until she read Chelsea Handler for the first time that she finally admitted, “Oh, I could do that!” It took Oxford some time, though, for her to get used to not writing for instant gratification on the Internet. “I’m so used to blogging,” she said, “that I would instinctively write in WordPress, not Microsoft Word, before realizing what I was doing.”

2. “Don’t Write About This”

One of Wilde’s more poignant questions to Oxford was, did you get permission from people in the book to, well, use them in the book? Short answer: no. Longer answer: no, but Oxford told them, as in, “This anecdote would be perfect for page 47!” (Slight paraphrase.) As for her kids, they know what their mom does for a living, or at least the oldest one does, but they never say, “Mom, don’t write about this.” Nor do they try to impress her — according to Oxford, referring to a good chunk of her subject matter, “It might end when they try to be funny.”

3. I know you’re an asshole, but what am I?

Most of Kelly’s Twitter followers are well meaning, but every so often, especially when she calls her kids “assholes” or “jerks,” she’ll feel the wrath of the Anonymous Twitter Army. Wilde knows the reaction all too well; before the reading, she tweeted, “I’m prepping for my q&a with @kellyoxford. Mostly I want to know how she popped out 3 kids and didn’t get deformed.” Cue the humorless horde: “Look, I am not overly earnest and have a sense of humor, but @oliviawilde calling women’s postpartum bodies “deformed” is straight up shitty.” You know she has a sense of humor because she says she has a sense of humor. She probably even has TWO black friends.

Still, neither of them blames Twitter; in fact, they appreciate how it allows “people to speak honestly.”

4. Someone give Olivia Wilde a late-night show

Rumor has it NBC’s looking for someone to replace Jimmy Fallon, should Fallon become the new Jay Leno — why not Olivia Wilde? We’ve breathlessly covered her late night appearances before, but as the interviewer, rather than interviewee, she’s somehow even more impressive. Wilde’s effortlessly funny, had excellent timing, knew when to let the guest speak and when it was time for her to chip in, and she seemed genuinely engaged in the conversation. Plus, she’s not afraid to piss on those deserving of scorn, yet everyone still adores her (having a famous husband like Jason Sudeikis doesn’t hurt, either). It’s certainly a better idea than The Incredible Burt Wonderfart 2.

5. This and That

Various tweet-worthy quotes from throughout the evening: book description, “Hilarity on Twitter supersized”; on making fun of people now seeing motherhood as a way of having something to say, “I gotta get pregnant, so I can tweet about it”; on recalling the small details for a memoir, “Only include the stuff you do remember”; on Disneyland, “Disney is the one place where I see parents hitting their kids”; on the idea that Disneyland, or anything, is truly perfect, “Perfection is awful”; on embracing your failings, “People don’t share their mess-ups enough”; on whether Oxford would ever do a reality show, “NO” (and she’s been asked).

6. This Magic RT

Should David Copperfield ever fawn over your work, respond to him (it may lead you on a world-wind adventure through Vegas and Disneyland), though not with, “Do you have any magic going on?” That’s already taken.

(All photos via Nadia Chaudhury)