Vulture Festival is no joke. Walking into the place– it’s held out in the Meatpacking district– you are immediately swarmed with staff members tasked with helping you figure out how the hell to handle it all. And no joke in that this thing featured guests that run from Johnny Knoxville to Claire Danes and from Ava Duvernay to, well, Johnny Knoxville – there’s really no other person who so vividly represents lowbrow in contrast to the very highbrow icons in attendance. The very fact that a festival dedicated to pop culture exists, and the fact that it is taken very seriously, made a pop culture enthusiast like myself feel very welcome.
Retta was the focus of a Sunday event. She was promoting her show, Good Girls, and her new book, So Close to Being the Shit, Y’all Don’t Even Know.
At the “An Afternoon With Retta” event I saw how many people love Retta. I mean really love Retta. I’m a fan of hers from Parks and Recreation and her social media presence, but DAMN! My fandom wildly pales in comparison to the way the people, mostly women, in attendance love her. The two ladies on either side of me both felt it necessary to declare to me, a stranger, their love for her, and I am not an approachable person. Though their declarations were hardly necessary as they went absolutely wild at the three clips played at the session: one of Retta’s early stand-up (actually extremely funny), one from Parks and Recreation (obviously, Treat Yo Self), and one from her newest show, Good Girls. Retta shared how she started doing stand-up because all the sitcoms she loved were helmed by former stand-ups, and she wanted a sitcom of her own.
She’s still waiting, but apparently, she just published a book, and her new show, Good Girls, just got picked up for a second season, so it’s pretty good to be Retta right now even without the sitcom. When asked about the babe.net story about Aziz Ansari’s aggressive tactics on a clearly uncomfortable girl in his apartment, Retta seemed to defend her former co-star. She said her friends didn’t quite understand why it was even a story, and said she’s been on dates like that and doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t. She said she didn’t want to pass judgment on the woman who called out Aziz, because she’s usually the first to call a guy out and say he’s being an asshole. But she, said, and this is a paraphrase “I didn’t think he was an asshole, and I didn’t appreciate that.”
The crowd consensus seemed to be that she was defending Aziz with that statement- that what she didn’t appreciate was the babe.net story. I initially took it to mean she didn’t appreciate what Aziz did, but maybe that’s just what I want her to have said, since I consider myself a hardcore feminist, I love Retta, and I think Aziz’s actions are not a part of some gray area.
Either way, she can forever claim that she originated the catchphrase of every boss bitch and every douche guy: “Treat Yo Self!”
She also spoke about hanging with her Good Girls co-stars. She said she and Christina Hendricks and Mae Whitman have grown close and have had some funny drunken times, as well as her beginnings in Hollywood. She said early on she was intimidated by everyone she met. She said initially she was scared of doing anything on Parks and Rec, and that everyone’s ability to improv really intimidated her and she shared that Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler were always telling dirty jokes.
After the show Retta signed books in the lounge.