You already know that Joanna Rothkopf is an outrageously good writer, funny in a way that feels like magic, and a beautiful video celebrity. But did you know that she also has a truly intimidating amount of strength inside her body, cultivated through intense circuit training that includes lifting heavy weights and running up and down multiple flights of stairs? She could have physically crushed all of us, maybe all at the same time, but never did. And now she has left Jezebel, which is crushing in a different way (emotionally).
Joanna’s work was always the best kind of Jezebel: against powerful assholes and for stupid shit. These two things lived seamlessly together in her writing, and in the stories she edited and encouraged. Behind the scenes, she was a fierce advocate, clear-eyed and protective, for all of us and the inane and important work we do here. Joanna loved Jezebel, and it loved her back. So much. We will miss her terribly. Frick.
Joanna and I met while working together at a bad place, and while I will not link to it because I do not want your computer to be used to mine cryptocurrency or whatever, I will say that I am grateful for it because it’s where we first became friends. In the years since, Joanna has been wise counsel in a storm, a bottomless source of encouragement, a justice-oriented gossip, and my favorite, only, and forever partner in intimacy drinks. She is also incredibly brave (ate an edible before Hereditary), kind and clear headed even in moments when it’s hard to be those things, and has the best bangs of anyone in the world, living or dead.
Joanna is an incredibly weird, wonderful writer, an empathic, spot-on editor, and one of the most hardworking people I know. She is also a great friend—she’s the kind of friend, for example, who will like and comment on and comment again on your rare Facebook posts because she understands that the Facebook algorithm is unfair. She’s the kind of friend who drags you to a fancy exercise boot camp to distract you when you’re sad, convincingly pretends you were amazing at it, and blames any performance problems on subpar exercise equipment. Joanna is the kind of friend who gets bangs and you think, “maybe I should also get bangs.”
Joanna and I have done so many stupid things together that it is quite hard to remember them all. Once, we decided to do a Facebook live where I would sleep and she would read out loud to me from an Ann Coulter book. Another time, I made Joanna get coffee with me while she was wearing a tail and a bunch of professors from the New School stared at us. My most recent, and favorite, memory of Joanna is from last weekend, when I watched her eat weed gummies at the beach for the first time. Feeling so chill, she spent 45 minutes slowly and carefully applying zinc sunscreen to every part of her body including her armpits, a task that she—uncharacteristically—did not successfully complete.
Smeared with a chalky full-body glaze that also entirely covered her black one-piece, Joanna then decided, after some urging, to enter the ocean. She thought about this for a long time, standing at the edge of the water with one toe submerged, hopping back and forth with a mournful expression. Ultimately, it was a no—a decision I respect. I frickin love Joanna Rothkopf, and I’m sorry but here’s a video of her dancing at Electric Daisy Carnival.
Joanna Rothkopf is smart, funny, kind, and has been an excellent friend for the entire year that I have worked here. Her knowledge of musical theatre rivals mine (we are cool people!!) and she has a big heart!!! Like most of the Jezebel staff, I was scared of her at first but now am no longer. Much like herpes, she will never be rid of me and I will miss her very much!!! (Roasts are hard and I am sad.)
Like most of the Jezebel staff, we are now real friends and not just work friends, which is good for me because that means her soft and beautiful cat Louis, will always be just a text message away.
Joanna Rothkopf Taught Me It’s Okay To Be Weird. She is a true freak. You look at her and think, aw, look at this nice, smart Jewish girl with cute bangs, I will never fear her or figure out her wicked ways. But NO! She’s into tails, going to BDSM conventions and having zero kinks which is actually the kinkiest thing of all, some SICK occult ritual called HOAGIE TIME (???), bad EDM... The list goes on. Keep your children, boyfriends, elders away from her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts some cult out in the desert a few years from now where people worship her plump cat Louis and laugh-cry at all her great writing. And I’ll be joining it, of course.
Joanna sat next to me in the office and now what? What if a literal monster moves in and eats me? Could happen. Joanna was the funniest writer on the site who also could explain things very well in not a lot of time on video. What a gift. Brevity is the soul of wit, sure, but with her leaving, my soul is dead so what does any of it matter?
Joanna is one of the smartest and funniest writers I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. I’d be seething with jealousy if she wasn’t also so kind and generous. (Okay, maybe I’m still a little jealous!). I will miss Joanna’s humor, her adventurousness, and our shared affection for The Americans.
When Louis came into my life, via Joanna, it was instant magic. Like a handsome cat son I’d never had.
I had never seen a cat so weird and beautiful, and with eyes the shade of a crisp blue sky. The connection between he and I was clear.
But I believe Joanna is leaving Jezebel out of spite so that I won’t be able to see him.
I am currently filing a lawsuit to claim custody. She will rue the day. Goodbye sweet Louis. I will miss you.
(And Joanna too, but I will see you in court, betch.)
To roast Joanna, I call upon the one true American art form: the acrostic:
Nmy coworker joa
A for a month
Knowing one another time
Oh let me just say
When faced with an uncomfortable or un-fun work situation, Joanna’s natural impulse is to make things weirder and weirder, until you’re happily lodged into some kind of strange art film of her own devising: she puts on a tail, she starts making surrealist jokes, she says something wildly explicit about a sports mascot.
By way of example, here is a photo of how she and I respectively chose to deal with the task of having to do a “Facebook Live” about politics once a week, back when that was a thing.
Joanna! You are the perfect combination of funny and mean, as is evident in all the times you’ve made me laugh and cry...often at the same time. I remember you being the most welcoming, sweet face on my first day in the Jez pod and me thinking, She’s really nice! Only to find out that you’re like an inside-out caramel chocolate bite—sweet on the outside, STILL semi-sweet on the inside BUT a tad less so??? Like dark chocolate but white??? All in all, great in its entirety. I’m mad we couldn’t have you stick around and jealous of whoever gets you next. You may have missed this, but towards the end of your exit contract, printed in small illegible text it says “I agree to be on-call for any and all ‘TKTK explained in 60 seconds,’ and general advice needs from Ecleen.” Thanks for that!!! Lastly, don’t forget to take your tail with you—no one will look as good as you in it anyway.
Here’s a recent text Joanna sent me, which I feel is a fair approximation of her overall writing style and talent. She possesses a rare combination of qualities: the cutting-edge presentation of a hip teen, with the substance of a wizened poet.
While Joanna Rothkopf may now seem like a genius internet personality and a public loudmouth, one thing many people do not know is that for her first four or so months at Jezebel, she did not talk. For weeks, the incongruity between her genius/curious/effusive/impeccable reporting and her dead silence in the office was completely confounding and inscrutable; I remember talking to Kate Dries about it at a party early on and we hypothesized that she had some extremely dark secret, like she was living a double life as an assassin or was in witness protection or was secretly the twin of an exiled Russian princess.
We eventually learned that Joanna’s secret is that she is utterly bonkers, like a truly nuts person whose fearlessness as a writer converges upon her acute sense of humor and leaves us all in the fucking dust. She eventually started talking and now we can’t (THERE) get her (ARE) to (SPOILERS IN THIS!) shut up already!! And now, instead of someone who we suspected might have been the head of a sleeper cell, Joanna Rothkopf is our permanent family. Shout to my SAVAGE new mom:
Additionally, the one thing that Joanna is still overly quiet about is Drunk Science. Everyone should know that Joanna cohosts a show called Drunk Science which combines science, comedy, and booze, and it’s truly delightful. If you go, I give you permission to scream “GO-ANNA!!!!” in encouragement, because I suspect you love her as much as we do.
Jezebel is such a weird and wonderful place, and Joanna is truly the weirdest and most wonderful of them all. To me, Joanna is the gold standard of comedy, and of really cute bangs, and I am really, really so sad she is leaving. So I am going to skip that part for now. Joanna, I will never forgive you for taking all of the best ideas: wearing a tail for a week and living to write about it; sneaking into gala for young Republicans by pretending to be a young Republican with a babysitting startup; inventing feminism; investigating crimes against feminism; ranking balls, all types of balls; telling the whole truth and nothing but the dang truth. Joanna, I hate your guts (not really, not at all); now that there are no more good ideas left, we are all just vying for second place. Please leave us be, woman; this one’s going to hurt.
Joanna is one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. Will never forget the time she gently clowned me on Slack when I didn’t recognize Mia Farrow. In my defense, I have White Blindness, but Joanna..............thank you.
Joanna is a carbon sink for absurdity. By that I mean that the internet is so full of bad and brainless bullshit, you truly do not even know unless you spend all of your professional waking hours staring into some combination of Twitter, Slack, and an RSS feed. It makes you feel like your brain is persistently, incurably itchy, and Trump has only made it 11 million times worse. But I honestly believe that the more bizarro her environment grows, the more serene Joanna becomes. It’s like she actually metabolizes dada-esque shit that just bewilders the rest of us. She disappears from Slack for three hours and returns with some totally deranged masterpiece. It is very sad that she is leaving because now we are all going to die of absurdity poisoning. :(
A question I have been asking myself in anticipation of writing this blurb is—is Joanna Rothkopf my muse? Because the majority of my work at Jezebel video features her. Maybe I’m just obsessed with her? Who among us can say? She has the perfect blend of insatiable curiosity, complete insanity, and killer bangs that every video producer dreams of. Without much convincing she’d practically break her body in an American Ninja Warrior training session or tell me the plots of our most treasured films of the year in a completely arbitrary amount of time.
She did all of it so well I don’t really feel like I can take credit for any of it…Joanna is one of those rare people who you just need to hit “record,” let her do her thing, and try not to get in the way of her genius. And yet she’s one of the kindest and most gracious collaborators. She never once complained about how I demanded she jump off a ledge as high as building into a foam pit only to use the footage of her struggling to hoist her body out of said foam pit and collapsing in sweaty defeat. And she didn’t personally fire me all those times I made her wear the same outfit for weeks straight because I kept needing reshoots.
Hell, she would risk mucking up her bangs because I wanted her to wear a cowboy hat that was too big for her Westworld recaps. Why were you so nice to me? I will miss how good she made me look at my job because now I’ll actually have to put in effort to create #content. But I’ll especially miss how consistently gobsmacked I was by how one person could possibly be so freaking funny (and delightfully odd) at all hours. I am already seething with envy over whatever team gets her next.
Joanna Rothkopf is a legend of the blog. She is fearless and brilliant and always funny on the first try. I’m devastated to learn that she is leaving Jezebel to focus on her stand-up comedy career, because no one else alive would ever agree to wear a dinosaur tail for a week for a blog, and I never knew even how badly I needed to read that blog until she wrote it. Joanna is the feminist we need, and the personal essayist we deserve, and I don’t think I even know how to enjoy the internet without her on it.
I am lucky enough to have worked alongside the Dame Jo not just once, but TWICE, first when we were both blog babies at Salon, and then again here at Jezebel. Joanna was really my shepherd into Jez, tolerating me as her tardy and severely less funny podcast co-host, all while gently reassuring me that I didn’t sound as dumb as I thought I did. I admired her so much that, six months into podcasting, I realized I had started adopting her speech patterns....and honestly, I was more than okay with it. It takes all of my effort to be either chill, funny, or a boss, yet somehow Joanna does all three at once, every freakin’ day. Aside from missing reading her incredible satire on the site, I will forever treasure our work trips to LA, where she proved to me that she can also really rock a neck pillow:
The most under-appreciated show on “television” is News You Can Lose, the show that Joanna and I “hosted” on Facebook Live (remember that?) every Friday afternoon at 4 pm from the end of the summer of 2016 to about the middle of 2017. These were dark times. The point of the “show” was to talk about the dumbest news items of the week. Like, should mayo go in grilled cheese sandwiches? What’s new with raccoons? Etc.
We had something like six regular viewers and we had a bit where I’d heckle them, and Joanna would be nice to them, but more importantly, extremely funny in her typically genius way. I would bully her by saying she looked like Dakota Johnson, which she does, and I still do not understand why this hurt her feelings, and I don’t care to!!! It was good cop/bad cop. Indeed, this is Joanna in a nutshell; many people choose to be mean to be funny, but Joanna does not. She loves to joke about butts and farts and never makes anyone other than herself or people in power the butt of the joke. Even when I called her “Dakota” repeatedly on camera, she never sank to my level (by comparing me to, oh I don’t know, Karlie Kloss or something equally hurtful).
I think about her blog about KEDSUM 200PCS ADHESIVE CABLE CLIPS, WIRE CLIPS, CAR CABLE ORGANIZER, CABLE WIRE MANAGEMENT, DROP CABLE CLAMP WIRE CORD TIE HOLDER FOR CAR, OFFICE AND HOME every time I am doing any kind of home improvement work or thinking about Allison Williams. I am so utterly in awe of Joanna’s kindness, journalistic powers, and her sense of humor, and will admire her and them until the day I am dead. Frick you for leaving, Jojanja. I love you. This is news I could really freaking stand to lose.
I almost missed this call to heckle Joanna because I’m currently in Scotland, which is as far away from Joanna as I could afford to get. Now that she’s leaving, I’m regretting my own departure as she is the only part of Jezebel that I simply can’t STAND.
The real reason I can’t stand Joanna, to be honest, is because she’s funnier than me and far more charming as a person. Good riddance! May I never have the misfortune of working with someone as lovely again.
The thing about Joanna is that every single time I talk to her I laugh. In the office, I’m laughin’. In her backyard, I’m laughin’. Out in public, I’m laughin’. But what she doesn’t know—the thing I’ve kept secret for the entire of our “friendship”—is that her father (Dadkopf) sent me a DM soon before she started at Jezebel asking me to laugh at her as much as possible because she has always struggled with humor. “The thing about my Joanna is that she’s pathetically unfunny,” he told me. “It breaks my heart to watch her repeatedly aim for a laugh only to miss the target each and every time.” So I assured him I’d laugh, and he assured me he’d give me fifty cents each time I did.
Per our agreement, I’ve held off on invoicing Dadkopf until now (it was decided that i’d wait until she left the site, because why would I ever hang out with her after?), so Joanna, please tell your father he owes me $503.50.