Mamrie Hart is known for her manic cocktail making and drinking on YouTube, but she still remembers the first moment she got laughs from her writing.
The theater undergraduate enrolled in a performance class at her home state's University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The assignment was to adapt a biography as a stage show. "I took a chapter from an Ellen DeGeneres biography and I wrote half of it about her college experience," Hart recalls. The desire for laughs took her to New York and Los Angeles and, more importantly, YouTube, where her main YouTube channel has drawn more than 1.2 million subscribers and 86 million views.
In her "You Deserve a Drink" series, Hart delivers an original cocktail recipe, raunchy puns and a built-in drinking game, dedicating the drink to a celebrity or pop culture moment, all in less than 10 minutes.
Hart's internet audience followed her as she performed in comedy tours, co-wrote and starred in the feature films "Camp Takota" and "Dirty 30." And she released a memoir in 2015, "You Deserve a Drink," which became a bestseller.
"I never thought I would write out of script form. When the idea of the [first] book happened, it was terrifying. My grammar sucks," she admits. "When you write a script, you don't have to worry about Oxford commas, semicolons and proper quotation marks. It was a big challenge and now I'm obsessed with it."
With a January cold, she pre-games with Dayquil, settles into the middle of a half-circle booth at the dimly lit Bigfoot Lodge bar in Atwater Village and orders a mezcal on the rocks with lemon wedges. Hart won the bar's trivia night two days prior, despite drinking while sick.
She now has a new memoir, "I've Got This Round" coming Feb. 6, which translates her fast-paced bawdy humor into a literary collection of boozy and weird adventures.
Going from YouTube to print was shocking in a number of ways. The copy editing process tackled profanities and slang and wound up with confusing passages like, "there was jazz all over the couch." She posted an Instagram shot of her favorite edit from the forthcoming book, which is sprinkled with references to late '90s and early 2000s Southern hip-hop. This time the edits included a spell check of Juvenile's song title "Back That Ass Up" to the correct version, "Back That Azz Up." "My copy editor — God bless her soul — I need to send her a pony keg. The notes I get back are incredible," says Hart.
Little exists undocumented for someone with such a strong digital presence. For her second book, Hart devised a plan to take trips worth writing about that she mostly kept quiet. "The stories really did happen in the last year and a half. I have been hoarding them so even my friends, unless they were there, it'll still be a surprise to them — which is hard to do because I share a lot of my life," she says.
She omits some details out of respect. For the friends mentioned by name, she sent them chapters to make sure they were as accurate as possible (a tough feat for alcohol-infused stories).
"There are no NDAs or releases. For that finite moment in time, all my girlfriends knew we were going on a crazy adventure with the purpose and intent of putting it in the book," says Hart.
When asked if anyone played it up for the sake of a better story, Hart says everything happened organically. "I feel very lucky to have curated a group of women beside me that can out-crazy me. Company included," Hart says, turning her face toward publicist Tess Finkle. "I don't think anything was ever put on for show. When you put yourselves in weird positions like a Dixie Chicks concert in Amsterdam on 4/20, a Backstreet Boys cruise or a murder mystery surrounded by retirees — it's half observation."
Within minutes of meeting in person, Finkle unabashedly confirmed she was "Tess, the hot mess express," who volunteered to go on stage at a red-light district show in the "Amster-dayum" chapter.
"No regrets," Finkle chimes in from her seat in the booth. "To this day, I think it's one of the best trips I've had in my adult life."
The book is dedicated to a group of Hart's closest friends, who all shared the need to be surrounded by women and not consumed by their dating lives. The unprintable name they called themselves was taken from the lewd '90s descriptor of a set of famous young actors notorious for their female conquests.
Reclaiming the phrase, she engraved it on rose-gold bangle bracelets to serve as a physical reminder to stay focused as she experienced a series of firsts in her 30s — including living alone.
"I don't know if it was because of the political climate or mercury in retrograde, but there was a moment where I felt like my girlfriends either found themselves single or wanting to turn in and focus on themselves," says Hart.
In the past, Hart put effort into compartmentalizing her romantic life away from her public persona as if it were a taboo exclusively experienced in an incognito window browser. In this book, she writes about the painful demise of a 10-year relationship, wailing on the streets of France from heartbreak and the minutiae of dating.
"I would have been lying if I hadn't included it," Hart says. "With both of these books, I just wanted to give an honest account of the stories because they are usually so fun and crazy. But if there is an element of me being upset, it would be a disservice not to include that."
Time surrounded by her posse helped her get through the rougher parts of the year, but Hart likes driving alone to Palm Springs to write. The only exception is her dog Beanz Hart, a toy Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless) with a permanent hanging tongue. Her four-legged roommate racks up the same number of followers as a starter Instagram model.
Although her second book is done, Hart is still using notebooks and a laptop keyboard she describes as "a gross cafeteria tray" to compile material for the one-woman show she will be performing on book tour. She still uploads videos to YouTube, calling it her "bread and butter." And she is still making travel plans when she chats with Finkle about revisiting the Poconos and getting tickets to this year's WrestleMania.
"Travel is my No. 1 splurge, my No. 1 love so stories just keep happening whether there is a deadline to write about it or not," she says.