If you attended Duke Law School between 1998 and 2001, you probably idolized, abhorred or had sex with Tucker Max. Truly uninspired about becoming a lawyer, he rarely attended class, but Tucker made the most of his law school experience.
Fueled by excessive amounts of firm-sponsored booze, an averted sexual encounter with a married female partner, and a belligerent performance at the firm retreat landed him in the managing partner’s office—fired from his first (and only) summer associate gig. Days later, an email he wrote to friends chronicling the incidents turned him into a viral internet sensation.
Realizing people were fascinated both by his frat-boy antics and pompous narrative, Tucker started a blog, where he poured out his sex-obsessed, beer-soaked soul. The true-life experiences he wrote about weren’t merely salacious by earnest-lawyer standards. They were salacious by human standards. And his audience grew like crazy.
Based on the massive popularity of tuckermax.com, a book deal followed. Originally published in January 2006 when Tucker was thirty, the book’s opening lines were as frank as his website:
My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world.
I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell has been on The New York Time’s bestseller list since it’s release—and doesn’t look to be dropping soon.
So what’s the obvious next step? Yep, a major motion picture. (Preview embedded at the bottom of this interview.) Written and produced by Mr. Max himself, the independently financed and distributed movie version of Tucker’s memoirs, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, opens nationwide September 25th. Yet, unlike most authors, Tucker produced, wrote the screenplay, and retained complete creative control of the entire project—and not without complication and risk. Which means he might be putting that law degree to use after all.
We caught up with Tucker during his movie’s sold-out promotional tour to find out why he hated law school, his advice for envious lawyers, and if he’s ever bagged a gunner.
Well, I wrote a book that has sold a million copies and is in its fourth year on the bestseller list. So that makes me a bestselling author. I wrote the screenplay to a movie that got made, which makes me a working screenwriter. Then I produced the movie, which makes me a producer. Take your pick.
Duke Law School, class of 2001.
Do I look like a tool to you? HAHHAHA—I don’t think I could pick out half my professors from a lineup. I never went to class. So useless and boring.
Why do you do anything when you are young? Stupidity, stubbornness, lack of wisdom. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but I had no idea what it meant to be a lawyer. All I knew was that people spoke reverently of lawyers, that everyone said being a lawyer meant you were a success, etc., etc.
Like all idiotic college kids, I wanted status without having to actually do anything to get it. Law school seemed the easiest route. But life had other plans for me.
Probably when I was fired three weeks into my summer associate job [at Fenwick & West]. It’s only a famous story, right here on my website.
Tough to practice when you never even take the bar.
Indeed, I did. I actually write about this in the book. I put up the original site as a joke and girls responded. I ended up hooking up with this fat girl and threw her clothes out the window so my friends wouldn’t see her.
Cancun. I spent like six weeks in the middle of my second semester of law school working in Cancun. When I got back, I walked into my federal tax exam having never stepped foot into class, armed with only a generic outline, and still got a 2.5 on the exam.
Tough to top getting fired. In three weeks. From a summer associate job. Especially considering how famous that story is.
I don’t know, man. I like to think so, but to say I definitely would have is post-rationalization bullshit.
Do not underestimate the fear that grasps people who have just a little bit of security. It was easy for me to take a risk and become a writer once I had been fired. What did I have to lose? But when I had the job, I did have something to lose, and even an extreme risk taker like me stops and thinks about quitting a job that pays that much money.
I basically stumbled into it. I would write emails to my friends about my nights out with no other intention other than to entertain them. They loved them, forwarded them outside the group, encouraged me to put my site up, and here we are.
I feel like you haven’t actually read the book, because if you had, you’d know that like 80% of the stories are from law school.
It makes some people take me more seriously, which in turn makes me take them less seriously because I know what a joke a law degree is, and I have no respect for people who worship degrees.
I take a lot of value in my undergrad education, but grad school was pretty worthless—aside from the friends I made there.
Stop being jealous and go pursue your own dreams. If you hate being a lawyer, why are you doing it?
I mean, maybe if you look at it from the perspective that I met some great friends there and had a chance to do all this crazy stuff because I never went to class, then I guess. But that’s a bullshit way to look at it. I would have made something like this out of whatever I did.
I owe something to my friends for being funny and pushing me into writing, but I owe nothing to law school.
Fuck no. They agree with me more than anyone. Some are practicing; at least two are partners at major firms, one works for the government, one runs a company, etc., etc. But they pretty much all hate the law.
It’s actually one that is going to be in my next book, Assholes Finish First, about the time my friends and I were arrested for DUI. While driving an RV. On a high-speed chase. Through Harlem.
I don’t know if I have a favorite reaction. I like it when people like my stuff, I guess.
If pressed, I would say my favorite reaction is when a really hot girl not only thinks I’m funny, but gets the genius in my writing. That is a recipe for awesomeness.
I don’t really know, but if my family isn’t proud of having a best-selling author in the family, they can fuck themselves.
Well, it’s coming out nationwide on September 25th. And we are doing a big premiere tour to promote it—31 cities in like 40 days. So far, it’s been awesome, and it’s all on the movie site.
The absolute most important thing—the thing that Matt [Czuchry] nailed and really no other actor had—was his likability and redeemability. You just can’t help but love the dude. Matt has this smile and this energy that is so positive and refreshing. It’s this sort of impish charm. No matter what he says—even mean stuff—you smile with him when he says it. There’s no anger in him, no malice, no meanness, which is important because that’s not what the character is about.
So many actors took this character as an asshole in the most literal sense and played it as this aggressive, macho doofus—which is totally wrong. Matt understood that the character was ultimately a good guy who is just a narcissist; he does outlandish and crazy things only because he is fun-loving and always looking to create entertainment.
For “Tucker,” it’s always about the story or about the joke, not about hurting other people. He’s a narcissist. Other people only exist to him as objects—not as people—so he doesn’t even consider if they will be hurt or not. He only cares if he’s being entertained. And that’s what the movie is about: Tucker understanding how his narcissism affects his friends.
Fuck yes. The movie is absolutely drop-dead hilarious. Wait until you see it, you will laugh your ass off.
Where did I ever write that my life is a non-stop drunken orgy? Those are the stories I write about because they make the funniest stories, but that is by no means my whole life. I mean, I just fucking produced a major motion picture. That is so hard and tazing—you have no idea.
None of the above. I got the most ass after I quit all the fucking bullshit and decided to move to Chicago and write full time. I was poor as fuck, no job, no prospects, but I had so much fun and pulled so much ass, it was crazy.
Now, I work so much, ass gets the backseat. Kinda ironic.
Because the dude is a brilliant writer, he was getting no attention, and it was bullshit. PhilaLawyer deserved a wider audience. Seemed obvious to me that the dude would be a star.
HAHHHAHAHAHAH—yeah, that was me, constantly arguing with professors and debating the gunners. You nailed it.
Man, be serious.
No. I quit and did something that made me happy. Why be bitter? Just stop.
I don’t really even consider [being hated.] For someone to hate me is a reflection of them and what their issues are; it has nothing to do with me, so I have never really let it affect me, either good or bad. I think it’s funny, and I enjoy it as entertainment though—that’s for sure.
I only get offended if you lie about me. Anything else is subjective opinion; I could care less about it.
If I told what was in my future, you would think I was fucking crazy. But let’s just say that this is only the very beginning.
Dude, of course. Who has lived a life without regrets? I have just as many as anyone else, but I am just honest about mine and write about them for the world to see.
Hillary Clinton: Kill it with fire!
Ann Coutler: Fuck, but only for the hilarious novelty of it.
Sonia Sotomayor: Marry. Someone has to do the laundry.
This post was part of the Best of the Bitter: 2009, which featured the three most popular Bitter Lawyer interviews from 2009. Tucker Max: The Anti-Lawyer was a big number one (and led to 10 Lessons From the Tucker Max Movie Premiere), followed by Len Elmore: NBA, Harvard, D.A. & Dreier and Noel Biderman: King of Infidelity.