How To Fail With Elizabeth Day

S8, Ep2 How to Fail: Samantha Irby

June 10, 2020

*This episode was recorded before recent tragic events in America. There are links to useful Black Lives Matter resources and ways to help below*

You know when you read someone's work and feel like you'd be friends in real life, and you become basically a little obsessed and Google them to inhale all the online content that is out there about this person and their work and THEN you get to to meet them and despite thinking they couldn't possibly live up to all your overhyped expectation, they actually do? Well, ok, so that's what happened to me with Samantha Irby.

Not only is she a brilliant, hilarious and perspicacious essayist (she has published three collections, the latest of which, Wow, No Thank You, entered the New York Times bestseller list at number one) but she's a wonderful, generous and warm human being. Samantha joins me to talk about failure to complete college, her failed relationships, failing at drama class, being her mother's carer, growing up poor, using humour as a defence mechanism and the BRILLIANT theory she has developed of 'Detachment Parenting' which she deploys on her wife's children. Oh, and we talk about The Real Housewives too, because we're both huge fans (in fact, we went on about it for so long that I had to edit some of it out in case we bored everyone else). My other favourite thing about this interview is that producer Naomi nonchalantly informed me that Samantha would be dialling in from Kathmandu, Nepal. It turns out that she had misheard and actually meant Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Samantha, I heart you. Please can we be friends for real? CALL ME!


I've written a new book! Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong is out in October. It's a practical, inspirational and reassuring guide to the seven principles of failure I've developed since doing this podcast. Packed full of contributions from loads of former guests, as well as listener stories, it is also beautifully hand-illustrated by Paul Blow and I would love it if you wanted to pre-order a signed copy here.


Samantha Irby's latest book, Wow, No Thank You is out now and available to order here. Her extraordinary essay, My Mother, My Daughter is available to read for free online here.


Many of you will have been as appalled as we are by the recent tragic news from America and the homicide of George Floyd. If you'd like to help there is a link to Black Lives Matter resources (including petitions to sign and places to donate) here

Belly Mujinga was a railway worker at London's Victoria station who was spat at by an assailant and who later died of Covid-19. You can donate to her family here


How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Samantha Irby @wordscience

How To Fail @howtofailpod 


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