Author, television and radio personality Teresa Strasser got her start as a writer for Win Ben Stein’s Money in 1997, a role for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award. In 2002, after former host Anna Bocci left the show, Strasser was selected to host TLC’s While You Were Out, for which was was nominated for another Emmy. In May of 2006, Strasser joined The Adam Carolla Show, where she served as the news anchor and co-host until 2010. Along with Lynette Carolla, wife of Adam Carolla, Strasser co-hosted a weekly podcast called The Parent Experiment from February through August of 2010. In August of 2010, Strasser joined The Peter Tilden Show as Tilden’s co-anchor, but left the show in August of 2011 to focus on her TV, voiceover and camera work.
Strasser has covered the red carpet for the Emmy Awards for E! and the Tony Awards for TV Guide Network, and she currently works as a host and reporter for the new Scripps Networks show The List. The program features pop culture topics, news and current issues, as well as celebrity news and events around town.
Strasser has worked as a freelance columnist for The Los Angeles Times and The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, and she has won three Los Angeles Press Club Awards, including Columnist of the Year in 2006. Strasser is currently a regular contributor for the calendar section of The Los Angeles Times.
In 2011, she published Exploiting My Baby: Because It’s Exploiting Me, an unflinchingly-honest Los Angeles Times bestseller in which she recounted the trials and tribulations of her first pregnancy. Based on her popular website, www.exploitingmybaby.com, voted by Babble.com as a Top 10 Funniest website in 2010, the book was optioned by Sony Pictures Television and developed into a pilot for ABC with Jamie Tarses’ Fanfare Productions.
To learn more about Strasser, visit her online at www.teresastrasser.com.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
My childhood can best be described as a carnival of benign neglect; my parents did their best, but parenting wasn’t at the top of their list of priorities. In fact, I’m pretty sure it never cracked the top ten for either parent. I fell somewhere between “attend folk dancing seminar in Berkeley” and “organize self-help books by color.” Let’s just say I spent a lot of time alone, or with Judy Blume. Having to fend for oneself is not a bad way to train for a career as a writer or in show business, I suppose.
What made you choose to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
The same thing that governs most of my choices: Desperate, paralyzing, unswerving need for approval!
Creatively-speaking, who are your biggest influences?
I don’t know if you could call them influences, but here are some people whose work I love in no particular order: Madonna, Joan Rivers, Harper Lee, John Irving, Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Tina Fey, Pat Conroy, Eminem, Lucinda Williams, Louis CK, Lena Dunham.
How did the opportunity to work on Win Ben Stein’s Money come about?
I met a comedian named Ed Crasnick at an open mic night in Santa Monica. I said something that made him laugh, and he thought I might make a decent writer for WBSM. He introduced me to the head writer and I submitted a package. I’m still pretty proud of one of my category titles, this one for a question on Israeli politics: Horton Hears a Netanyahu. Maybe it loses something out of context.
What was the most challenging aspect of making the transition from television into radio, and what did you enjoy most about your time on The Adam Carolla Show?
Adam Carolla is a genius. Pure and simple. And no matter what the format or media, working with someone whose brain is that nimble and inventive is always a pleasure and a wonder.
What is your relationship with Adam Carolla like since your departure from his show?
Like family. When he comes to Phoenix for lives shows, I get to sit in and see my old crew. It’s always bittersweet, great to see them but also sad because I miss that world so much. Adam will always be somewhere between friend and mentor, but who also kind of intimidates and charms me in equal measure with almost every interaction.
What inspired you to document your pregnancy first on www.exploitingmybaby.com and in your book, Exploiting My Baby: Because It’s Exploiting Me? Was there ever a fear of revealing too much, knowing that your children could one day grow up to read about your experiences while pregnant?
Funny story. I actually ran most of my chapters by my therapist to make sure I wasn’t doing any damage. She signed off on them, and I trust her implicitly. When I’m writing and I get stuck, I just ask myself, “How can this be more true?” That’s not a totally original trick, but it works. The way I look at it, if you don’t sweat it a little, it’s probably not worth reading. Anyone can turn a phrase or write a clever analogy, but I think being willing to bleed is something I bring to the table. And pregnant women who are anxious and nervous and facing the end of everything they once knew deserve nothing less than total honesty, even if it means I have to share about everything from porn to poop. Actually, that’s not a bad title for my next book.
What game show do you think you would be good at?
Pyramid. That’s right. It’s on YouTube. Donny Osmond hosted and I beat Steve Schirippa from The Sopranos. It was down to the wire for my final cue, “Things that are loyal.” I finally gave the winning clue with “country music fans” – a career highlight. Either that, or the time I dressed up as a Christmas tree for CMT’s 25 Merriest Country Music Video countdown, which was taped on Yom Kippur. It’s a toss up.
Who have you been most excited to interview? Perhaps along those same lines, is there anyone who has intimidated you?
Some of my favorite celebrity interviews? Brad Pitt, Ted Danson, Ken Burns and Salma Hayek. If I had to interview Madonna, I would need a large dose of Klonipin, but I love her.
For you, what was the most rewarding aspect of becoming a parent?
Now, look, I’m going to need to get real cheesy right about now. One thing that always makes me grateful I have kids is that love is a cure for almost everything in terms of parenting problems. My youngest is going through the terrible two thing. When I get lost or frustrated or hopeless, I know that if I just love him up, most tantrums and problems will eventually resolve. Last night, he was having a freak out over wearing his pajamas, and I just got on the floor and explained to him that I loved him no matter what, happy or sad. I told him I understand how frustrating it is to be little and that things will be better next year and the year after, and that I would always be there for him and that’s it’s okay to be sad and kick his feet and cry. In those moments, when I’m a much better mother than I usually am, when I figure out that loving kids up is the way, when I transcend the mostly crappy parenting that was modeled for me, it’s the best feeling.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Right now, I am filling in on a morning radio show called JohnJay and Rich, so I’m up at 4 AM to do the show until 9 AM, after which I go to my television job at The List, after which I eat a snack in my minivan en route to pick up my kids at preschool. At that point, it’s the park, a bike ride, Legos, dinner, some episodes of Scandal or The Killing and the hope of being asleep by 8:30.
What are you working on next?
Getting everyone to buy my book for anyone they know who is pregnant or thinking about it. Exploiting My Baby – help me exploit mine by buying it this holiday season.