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.
Tucker, what would you say is your current job title?
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.
Where did you go to law school?
Duke Law School, class of 2001.
Honors? Law Review?
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.
On your site, you call going to law school “a mistake.” Why did you even originally go?
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.
When was your “I have to get the f**k out of law” epiphany?
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.
Did you ever practice?
Tough to practice when you never even take the bar.
You’re most famous for your blog and book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, which details your excessive drinking, obnoxious behavior, and explicit sexual conquests. Did you start publishing your writing before law school? How did it affect your law school experience?
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.
What was your best moment as a law student?
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.
What was your worst?
Tough to top getting fired. In three weeks. From a summer associate job. Especially considering how famous that story is.
If you had not been fired from Fenwick that summer, do you really think you would’ve had the balls to leave the law?
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.
Did you always have a knack for writing? Or did you really discover the art by growing your emails to friends into blog posts?
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.
How much of what you’ve written has been based on stories from law school?
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.
Do you ever find any value in your law degree?
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.
On your blog, you advise prospective law students to go only if they want to spend their lives working in “a tedious, shitty, unrewarding job.” What would be your advice for any current lawyers out there who are jealous of your lifestyle?
Stop being jealous and go pursue your own dreams. If you hate being a lawyer, why are you doing it?
Do you feel like you owe your life and success to law school?
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.
Of your good buddies you met at Duke, are any of them still practicing? Do they hate all the bad things you say about lawyers?
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.
Of your entire breadth of work, which Tucker Max story is your favorite?
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.
Obviously you get a lot of stupid, redundant responses from fans, but what are your favorite reactions that people have about your work?
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.
What does your family think? Do they wish you were a nice lawyer instead?
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.
So what’s going on with the movie, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell?
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.
What’s it like casting someone to play you in a movie? What did you look for in an actor, and how did you decide on Matt Czuchry?
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.
Do you feel like the hilarity of your written work translated well into a movie?
Fuck yes. The movie is absolutely drop-dead hilarious. Wait until you see it, you will laugh your ass off.
What’s a typical day for you? Is it a non-stop, drunken orgy, or should we not believe everything we read?
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.
Did you get laid more in college, law school, or now that you’re a well-known author/blogger?
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.
You founded a network of websites called Rudius Media that provides a home for bloggers, writers, artists, etc. to post free of censorship. One of your most popular site authors is [Bitter Lawyer] PhilaLawyer, who anonymously reveals “the darker side of the legal culture.” Why did you add him to the family?
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.
Your work has put you on the receiving end of a few lawsuits. Were you a First Amendment hawk in law school?
HAHHHAHAHAHAH—yeah, that was me, constantly arguing with professors and debating the gunners. You nailed it.
Did you ever hookup with a gunner?
Man, be serious.
Did you ever consider yourself a Bitter Lawyer?
No. I quit and did something that made me happy. Why be bitter? Just stop.
During a libel suit, a judge called you “the poster child of vulgarity.” (USA Today article HERE.) Do you love being hated? It is possible to offend you?
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.
You’ve lived a wild life so far. What’s the future for Tucker Max?
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.
All these great stories—any regrets? (Other than throwing away the buttsex video, of course.)
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.
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.