The wunderkind writer who was signed by Pixar

At 28, Simon Rich is the hottest property in Hollywood. Sarah Hughes meets him

A glance at Simon Rich’s CV is enough to induce career vertigo. He’s written for both The New Yorker and Saturday Night Live, has published five books  (the most recent is out this month), has seen his first novel, Ant Farm: And Other  Desperate Situations, optioned by in-demand director Jason Reitman, and is currently working for Pixar.

It’s the sort of career a fortysomething would happily lay claim to: Rich has just turned 28 and with his tousled hair, rumpled clothing and fresh face could pass for 18. “It doesn’t bother me that I look so young – I think it makes the bar a little lower,” he admits with an engaging grin. “After all, I don’t think my novels are particularly impressive but for a  12-year-old they’re astounding…”

Self-deprecation is Rich’s default stance. Asked how he started off in comedy he says: “When I was a teenager, I’d try to write horror and people would read it and burst into laughter, so I got the message early on.” It’s a position he possibly developed to ward off accusations of privilege. For just as there is no doubting Rich’s precocity – he wrote for Mad magazine while still at college and was hired to write for Saturday Night Live at 22 – so there is no getting away from his background. He is the son of the political columnist Frank Rich (who provided expert help to Armando Iannucci for Veep) and the stepson of New York Times feature writer Alex Witchel. He was educated at Manhattan’s prestigious the Dalton School on the Upper East Side and went from there to Harvard, where he edited the university’s satirical magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.

Small wonder then that not everyone is overjoyed at his success – Gawker once dedicated a post to him headlined “Should Nepotism Annoy Us?” – yet even those who rail against his upbringing are forced to admit his talent (that same Gawker piece hailed his “undeniable comedic flair and imagination”).

“I’m incredibly lucky to write for a living,” Rich admits, adding that he understands the nepotism backlash. “Because of that I don’t take it for granted and work really hard because every day I worry I’ll be forced to get a real job.”

He attributes his success to a love of childish things: “I always wanted to be Roald Dahl and the biggest single influence on my writing is The Simpsons,” he says, adding “the best jokes, or at least my favourites, are ones that are universal about human relationships.”

He has an eye too for the small  absurdities of life – his well-reviewed second novel, What in God’s Name: A Novel, depicted God as the boss from hell “irrational, temperamental,  arrogant, emotionally needy” and took aim at corporate American culture. His  latest book, The Last Girlfriend on Earth and Other Love Stories, a collection of witty, off-kilter love stories, includes a tale in which Sherlock Holmes fails to understand his girlfriend is cheating on him. He drew inspiration for the stories from The Magnetic Fields’ darkly witty 1999 album, 69 Love Songs. “Basically, it’s my attempt to rip Stephin Merritt [the singer/songwriter of the Magnetic Fields] off… even though it’s the weirdest book I’ve written, it’s also the most honest and probably the sappiest.”

As to the future, he’s unable to say much about the new Pixar movie – “I’m prepared to take on God but not Disney’s lawyers” – but admits working there is a dream fulfilled. Given his growing success a job writing for The Simpsons surely can’t be far off? He laughs. “Yes, it would be a dream come true but I’m not counting on that, it would be enough just to take a tour.”

‘The Last Girlfriend on Earth and Other Love Stories’ by Simon Rich is published by Serpent’s Tail on  31 January, £9.99

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

    Caught in the web of legal imperialism

    The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
    Bruce Robinson: Creator of Withnail and I on his new book about Jack the Ripper

    'Jack the Ripper has accrued a heroic aura. But I'm going after the bastard'

    The deaths of London prostitutes are commonly pinned on a toff in a top hat. But Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, has a new theory about the killer's identity
    Fifa presidential election: What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards