Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Lena Dunham. Photo courtesy of Mindy Tucker.

party chat

Lena Dunham on That Time She Went to Her Ex’s Landlord’s Funeral

Lena Dunham did some impromptu storytelling at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York last night, as a headlining performer at A Is for Asssscat, an event to benefit A Is For, a women’s reproductive-rights organization founded by Martha Plimpton (who was hosting a sister event in L.A.) and Lizz Winstead (who was emceeing the evening in Chelsea). The performance started when a crowd member shouted a random word or term to prompt a true story from Lena. Then UCB and SNL cast members (including John Lutz and Vanessa Bayer) assembled onstage to act out improv sketches based off her roughly six-minute tales. “I’m experiencing anxiety,” was Dunham’s initial reaction to her first prompt (“cousin”), which ultimately led to a story about her cousin that she asked we keep from his parents, so we will. For her second round, she told a story inspired by the “call of duty.” Here's how that went down.

Okay, Call of Duty is a video game. Boys play video games ... Okay! I was — I’m going to shock you — I was dating someone. And it was early on, and we’re not going out anymore, and you’ll see why. It was early on in our dating life and I was late coming over to his house, and I texted him, like, “Sorry I’m late!” And he said, he said, like, “No prob. But now I’ve gotten really into this video game so there’s no way I’m stopping once you get here.” And I was like, “Oh, hahaha!” I wrote back, like, “You putz,” or something. I don’t know what I wrote back. I got there, and he was totally fucking serious. I swear, it was, like, three hours of me sitting there, watching him play — it was World of Warcraft, it wasn’t Call of Duty, it was something with guns that was like the fifth iteration [the crowd offers "Halo”]. His mom had sent it to him as a present. And so he played for, like, three hours, while I just sat there. And then I  — just as like, an experiment — was like, “Maybe I could take a controller?” And he was like — like I was the biggest idiot — “This is a single-player game.” Like I’m the biggest idiot he’s ever met in his life. But the best detail is that his name, like his name in the video game, was Alanis Morissette ...

Then I kept dating him for, like, five months, after this horrible thing. And another that happened while I was going out with him that was closer to the end of our relationship, was that I went over to his house to — again, I don’t know why — I went over to his house, and when I got there — he lived in, like, a brownstone in Park Slope — and when I got there, in the front yard there were tons of, like, candles and flowers, like clearly someone had died. And when I got there and went upstairs, I was like, “Have you seen what’s going on in the front yard?” And he’s like, “Yeah, I think one of my landlord’s dogs died.” And I was like, I don’t think — I’ve never seen, except for like when Leona Helmsley — no one’s dog got that kind of attention. I was like, "Maybe just call her and make sure everything’s okay." And he’s like [in a Neanderthal voice], “Uh, okay.” So he calls the landlord; she didn’t pick up. And then he got a call back from his landlord, and he’s like, “Oh, hey, Mary.” But it’s her daughter, and [the landlord] was totally dead ... which is horrible, but she was like, 67, but looked 99, so let’s say it’s not a tragedy. He wanted to make sure that his rent was going to stay the same now that her children were taking over, so he’s like, “We’ve got to go to her funeral. It’s tonight and we have to go.” I’d met her, like, one time when I was leaving the house for fifteen seconds and she asked me how old I was ...

So, we got there — first we went to the wrong funeral home. And the woman there, like, pitched me a reality show. So we ended up staying at the wrong funeral home for, like, twenty minutes because this woman was pitching me a reality show about the fact that she was both a psychic and a funeral-home person. [Editor's note: We think she says "person" here, but it's hard to hear.] So then we got to the right one and people were, like, smoking weed in the room with the open casket. She came from like a real kind of thug, Polish family ... she had kind of like a Juicy sweatsuit ... and a packet of Camels in the pocket. And [my boyfriend] had never seen a dead body before and was, like, really shaken up by it. And I wanted to break up with him but just couldn’t. I felt like, “Well, this adds another five days.”

And the next day I tried to break up with him, I was like, “I’m going to go to spin class now.” And I went and, like, met a friend and talked about how I’m ready to break up with him. I go back to his house, I’m like, “I’m sorry, I know your landlord just died, and it’s a really hard time for you. I don’t think this is working, for a lot of reasons. Like, that five months ago you played Call of Duty for three hours when I came over and your name was Alanis Morissette." And then he, like, put a pillow over his face and, like, screamed so loudly, like this horrible, smothered scream — also, I should note it was New Year’s Eve. [Laughs.] I believe in, like, luck and superstitious things. I just think, we shouldn’t start the New Year together if I knew ... And he screamed so much, I was like, “Fine. We can stay together for one more day.” So then we went to my friend’s house for New Year’s Eve and he like totally forgot that I had broken up with him two hours earlier. And just acted the entire time like, “I can’t wait until June, so we can go tubing.” And the next day I told him I was going to spin class again, which he now knows is a place where terrible things happen, and I went and he was like, “Okay, I’ll be over at your house at eight.” And then I got out of the car like five minutes earlier [and I yell at him], "Never come over again!"

I’m afraid at some point I’m going to run into him. I’m afraid — a friend is getting married — I’m afraid I’m going to run into him, and I thought about it today, and I know this is horrible: I just want to tell him I’m pregnant. Not with his baby! I just feel like it would really be finite if I was like ... It’s great to see you ... I’m having a baby. Six months from now, I’m going to be a mother.

Photo: Mindy Tucker