Melissa Hunter is an LA-based comedian who noticed a little something about boys. Namely, how they seemed to stay… boys. Bros living with a dozen roommates. Guys eating Pop-Tarts for dinner. Dudes never buying toilet paper. Even when, perhaps, they should be men. Because they are 33 years old. Hypothetically speaking. Channeling her frustration into hilarity, Hunter, along with writer-actress Megan Rosati, wrote and filmed “1-800-Adopt-A-Dude,” which asks us, “Will you be an angel for a fully grown, yet utterly helpless man?”
If you think Hunter looks familiar, you may know her as the funny girl behind Adult Wednesday Addams. (She says she’s shooting the second season of AWA this weekend. Video release date TBA.) I called her up today to talk 1-800-Adopt-A-Dude, which went up, appropriately enough, on Wednesday.
What’s the Adopt-a-Dude origin story?
It came about based on our single dating experiences in Los Angeles, and trying to find grown men who act like grown men. I would often date a guy and then find out he shared a bedroom, or didn’t have a car, or a job. It just didn’t make sense to me that there was this epidemic of men acting like they were still in college. So we started joking about that out of frustration, and how funny it would be to place them in one of those “adopt a child” or “adopt an animal” videos. I love those, like the Sarah McLachlan ones. They’re so ripe for parody.
How did the guys in the video react to these jokes? Did they take any of it personally?
They’re all in my comedy community… and they were all really good sports about it. What I’ve gotten in terms of the reaction from men that I know, both from the script and the video, is a lot of them can recognize traits that they have of this kind of dude, but [the video] is a little more playful. It’s not mean-spirited, in my opinion. They were totally game. And especially with sketch comedy, all these guys that are in it do so much sketch comedy, and most of that is making yourself look the fool. Like the guy, Paul, shooting ketchup in his face.
So gross! What a champion.
I made sure he had a spit cup and we had the camera just right so he only had to do it once.
What were you thinking about while writing these jokes? Did you have to cut anything because you thought it would be too harsh and change the playful tone of the sketch?
We tried to make it true to the guy who doesn’t have his life together—and it’s not just guys who don’t have their lives together—but what we were trying to comment on is this stunted generation we are all kind of a part of. We’re coming into an economy where we can’t get real jobs or real careers. Especially the entertainment industry, everyone is trying to make it, but they’re, like, 30. So it’s like, wait a minute, how do I not have a real life?
There was, in the first draft, it was a little more parallel to the Sarah McLachlan dog and animal adoption ads, and then we retooled it, because we didn’t want it to be as much about them being animals. I think that’s a little bit more degrading. It’s more about them not being fully grown adults. We wanted them to be man-child.
Like you say, there are also plenty of girls who don’t have their lives together. But these issues you talk about in the video—hygiene, diet, cleanliness—are usually things that women seem to be on top of at a much earlier age than guys are. Why do you think that is?
I totally agree with you. For me, I think it’s something women are trained to do as girls: we’re trained to be responsible and practical and not complain as much about our circumstances. And I think because we’re also trained at a young age to take care of our body from a looks standpoint, which is a bummer, but we translate that into nutrition, how to have a good balanced diet and take care of ourselves as people more. And also, even if we aren’t at the place in our career, let’s say, or economically, in our late twenties or early thirties, we do know that we have a much more present clock. If we want to have a family, we need to have our lives together. And we’re reminded of that so much more than men are, who can wait until they’re 45 to even think about it. For women, it’s societally looked down on. At 35, we should be at a place where we can start a family. Those are the societal pressures that push us into becoming real people.
It also sometimes seems like guys expect that, once a woman enters their life, that’s when all these things will change. There’s this subset of guy who appears to be waiting for the girlfriend to show up, and then makeover montage his apartment into a place that is clean and livable, for instance.
I think that’s really true. Funny enough, the ones of my guy friends who do have their shit together a little bit more, is either because they have a girlfriend right now who tells them how to dress, or they had a girlfriend who taught them how to make real meals and exercise and dress in a certain way and have real sheets on their bed. I think it’s a motherly aspect that men except women to bring them through. And it’s both from a physical, exterior superficial standpoint—how you dress, what you eat—and emotionally, too. I think a lot of men don’t have emotional relationships with other men, digging into who they are and what problems they have, unless they’re with a woman. I noticed that once when I had a boyfriend, a long time ago, and we broke up, and months later he called me when something really bad happened to him. I realized his guy friends don’t talk to him about that stuff. He still missed and wanted that.
Aside from the cultural pressures and male expectations you’ve talked about, do you think some of this is a pressure women put on ourselves? That there are girls who go into relationships kind of excited about the prospect of, for lack of a better phrase, a fixer-upper?
I think we’re all kind of complicit in it, and that’s part of the commentary that we wanted to put forward: it’s not anyone’s fault, necessarily, it’s just the way our society works right now. Maybe it’s something that we want men to change, to be the guy that we want them to be, so being able to change the way they dress or eat is almost an easy way to think that they’re going to be better people, better boyfriends, better partners. There’s a satisfaction to teaching someone about something. I think that’s true in any relationship. I’ve been in a relationship where someone knew everything about music, and he was so excited to teach me about classic rock. It was something he could bring to the table. And also maybe it’s like, we can’t control or change the way men think in a macro level, so maybe on a micro level, we can do that.
^This girl knows what we’re talking about.
And some of it is just being practical, right, from a woman’s standpoint. Like not dating someone who doesn’t keep their bathroom stocked with toilet paper.
We have these rules set out: I can’t live with someone who is living with eight dudes in this big house and they’ve never cleaned the kitchen floor in their lives. There was a certain point when I would date those boys, and I am not at that point anymore.
It’s remarkable, the rate of change post-college, and [the difference between] women and men. I think it’s these years out of college that for some reason, generally, are able to become fully functioning adults that some men just don’t ever reach until they have a girlfriend or a wife to “adopt” them. It’s like, they’re just living with the same guys they’re living with in college microwaving ramen and leaving trash bags of beer cans on the stairs.
Have any of the responses been negative?
I got a few angry comments on YouTube, “Not every man is like this.” It recalled the “not all men” thing. Yeah! That’s fine! They’re not! There are plenty of men who are great. And even in the video I say, “hundreds of thousands” intentionally. There are hundreds of millions of men out there. So it’s only one percent, but it’s still an epidemic.
Which of these jokes in the video feel the most true to you?
I think there were two – the roll of toilet paper, that’s probably my favorite joke. Because it seems SO simple, and so basic, that of course, you can have toilet paper too! All it costs is the cost of a roll of toilet paper. It seems silly that it’s so hard. And the other joke is the one where Megan is reading the book and it says “Donate in the next five minutes, and you’ll get a text every day from your dude, asking, like, you know, how your day was. Really basic shit.” Because I feel like that’s something, when I’m dating someone, or my friend is dating someone, everything that we have to ask of them seems SO basic. If you’re in a relationship, just checking in every day.