NEW YORK— Andy Boyle isn’t a parent. He isn’t a child development researcher or a psychologist or any kind of expert, really. But he’s darn funny, and he’s written an advice book aimed at young people that might just do them some good while providing a laugh or two.
With a background in actual stand-up comedy, the 31-year-old writer and internet tech geek relies on a few 20-something years of excess in his own life as a starting point. Many of his bits of wisdom have been dispensed by others, but not quite like this.
Among Boyle’s topics: What would Tom Hanks do? Nobody knows anything. Accept the fact that most relationships fail.
His book, “Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered to Tell you,” will be released in May by TarcherPerigee, a division of Penguin Random House.
A conversation with Andy Boyle:
AP: Who is your intended audience here?
Boyle: Really anyone who’s looking for help, either in starting their life or trying to understand someone who’s starting out adulthood.
AP: That’s around when life went off the rails a bit for you? In your 20s?
Boyle: The same thing happened to me that I think happens to a lot of people. You go through 12 years of school and you go to college. And then it’s, ‘OK, go be an adult.’
I was just kind of treading water for probably five or six years, even though I was doing OK professionally. I was constantly filled with self-doubt. My personal life was a mess. I was really overweight. I was sick a lot of the time. I was leading this sort of unhealthy, sad life.
The tipping point was when I was working for the Chicago Tribune. I was in a meeting and I crossed my legs and I split my pants right down the back. That was 2013, when I started not drinking. I was 27 or 28. I was at 306 pounds.
AP: Why does the comedian part of yourself make you a good person to dispense advice?
Boyle: Light and funny is a nice way to go. I try to stay not cynical. I’m not saying I know all of the answers. It’s more like, ‘Hey, I’ve made a bunch of mistakes and some of them were kind of funny.’
Find some joy in the silliness.
AP: You suggest young people only have ‘Hell, yeah’ sex.
Boyle: You should really want to do it, whereas a lot of times young people are pressured into thinking, like, ‘Oh, I’m 22. I should be having lots of sex.’
You should just listen to your brain for that ‘Hell, yeah.’ A lot of times young people are pressured into thinking meh, I’ll have some sex, but you should really, really want to have the sex.
AP: But you’re not suggesting true love here. You also believe that casual sex is fun and awesome.
Boyle: You can still feel ‘Hell, yeah’ about that human being if you’re not in love with them. It’s all about being kind, respectful and caring.
AP: Let’s talk about the chapter, ‘What the Hell Should You Do with Your Life?’ You talk about turning your passion into your profession and why you think that’s b.s.
Boyle: A lot of these books say you should find what you love and do that every day. I’m saying go work that job that maybe you don’t love, but it’s good enough and maybe it makes you happy. It allows you to maybe buy that fishing boat that you want because you love to go fishing.
You don’t necessarily have to turn your passion into your job.
AP: Isn’t that kind of a throwback idea as opposed the millennial approach to life?
Boyle: Maybe. I grew up with two amazing parents. I’m from Nebraska. My mom owned her own insurance agency and my dad sold cattle feed for a living. On the side, they had all these other little business projects that would help them make money.
But my mom loved to play piano. She’s been playing the piano since she was 4 or 5 years old. It brings her joy. It makes her happier than anything else in the world, but she knew that she needed to be able to feed herself and to help support a family.
AP: You talking about gaming oneself, like a little personal twist on the Tom Sawyer fence-painting story.
Boyle: Yeah, turn things into a little game. Even if it’s shopping or going to the gym. Trick your brain into adding five more pounds to the bench press. Be competitive with yourself. Shop for groceries as fast as you can and time yourself.
AP: You wrote that without Nickelback you wouldn’t be where you are today. What did you mean by that?
Boyle: I had this realization that I was a jerk back then. I would make fun of people who liked Nickelback when in fact it was, like, ‘Andy, you owned Silver Side Up.’
It was that moment where it was, like, ‘Hey man, Nickelback fans are human.’ You shouldn’t be mean to them. I look back with a lot of regret about how I treated people. I don’t want to be that guy.