Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty

Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty

by Harris Wittels

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Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty by Harris Wittels

From comedian and writer (Parks and Recreation, Eastbound&Down) Harris Wittels comes a hysterical breakdown of boasts, brags, and self-adulation disguised as humble comments and complaints-based on his popular @humblebrag Twitter feed.

Something immediately annoyed Harris Wittels about Twitter. All of a sudden it was acceptable to brag, so long as those brags were ever-so-thinly disguised as transparent humility, such as:

"Just filed my taxes. Biggie was right, mo money mo problems."

"I hate when I go into a store to get something to eat and the male staff are too busy hitting on me to get my order right :( so annoying!"

Taking action by naming this phenomenon and creating the Twitter account called Humblebrag-dedicated solely to retweeting the humblebrags of others-Wittels's new word took the Internet by storm. Harris also shows readers what humblebrags might look like from some of history's most notable names, as well as devoting an entire chapter to a man who just might be the greatest humblebraggart of them all...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455514175
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 09/25/2012
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 955,079
File size: 751 KB

About the Author

Harris Wittels currently writes for NBC's Parks and Recreation (on which he sometimes appears as Harris, the Animal Control guy). He has also written for HBO's acclaimed series, Eastbound & Down, Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program, MTV's Human Giant, and the MTV Video Music Awards. He has several feature film projects in development with Universal, Mandate Pictures, and Scott Rudin Productions.

In addition to his writing, Wittels regularly tours the country performing stand-up comedy with such comics as Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., and Aziz Ansari. His stand-up has been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, and Showtime's Live Nude Comedy. He was also on Variety's "10 Comics to Watch" list for 2011.

Harris Wittels lives in Los Angeles, California.

Read an Excerpt


The Art of False Modesty
By Harris Wittels

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2012 Harris Wittels
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781455514182

Ugh, I Know Famous People!

Let’s start off with one of the most commonly used form of humblebragging, which is the name-drop humblebrag. No one likes a name-dropper. Add to that some phony self-deprecation and you have a not fun thing. There are a couple kinds of these. One kind is committed by normal people and the other by celebrities. What’s funny about normal people saying things like “I totally drank too much while hanging out with Johnny Depp” is that “hanging out” usually means they were at the same bar and drunkenly yelled at Johnny Depp that they went to the same high school. I bet Johnny Depp didn’t consider it a hang. What’s funny about when a celebrity does it is that it’s usually an attempt to show that they’re a normal person. They aren’t though, is the thing.

Noah Harlan (@noahharlan)

In other news, Paul McCartney stole our golf cart. I’m serious. #HonoredOrPissed?

Paul McCartney, The Beatle, right? Soooo… honored probably? Final answer.

Damon Lindelof (@DamonLindelof)

Sitting next to Penny Marshall at the Lakers Game.


There is a chance he actually was geeking out there, but he’s the creator of Lost. He’s been around famous people before. I have a slight bugaboo about celebrities trying to show that they are still normal and “on our level” by getting nervous around other celebrities.

Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz)

Dan Radcliffe just showed me a text he just got from JK Rowling which just about blew my mind. Can’t say what it said. Sorry

Well, so why tell us this then, ya know? Also, I thought his name was Daniel, but I guess if you’re close friends it’s just “Dan” or something.

Kelly Bourdet (@kellybourdet)

Just spent 30 minutes on the phone with johnny knoxville talking about period sex


Machine Gun Kelly (@machinegunkelly)

You ever been called on stage by DMX in front of 20,000 people to perform a song and forgot the lyrics cuz u were so nervous? I have lol

I’m going to go ahead and assume this was a rhetorical question. He couldn’t have possibly wondered if anyone besides himself has forgotten DMX lyrics after being called up on stage, right? It’s such a specific and narrow margin of people who have experienced that. That being said, if I were him I would have been more nervous to tweet this than I would have to get on stage with DMX. Namely because DMX hasn’t been relevant in like, eight years and this tweet was annoying (especially with the “lol” addition).

Also, his Twitter bio starts with “I like threesomes.” Come on, dude, let’s try a little harder to not be a parody of a musician.

Wiz Khalifa (@RealWizKhalifa)

im very thankful that the isley brothers are lettin me smoke wit them right now

That’s beautiful, man.

actingkeith (@actingkeith)

OMG… getting two drunk movie stars home… to sleep… is much rougher than getting one drunk movie star home to sleep… #responsible

The only way this isn’t a humblebrag is if actingkeith is a cabdriver. Then it’s just part of the job, and I respect his work ethic. However, his Twitter name isn’t “cabbingkeith”; it’s “actingkeith,” and thus, he is letting everyone know that he parties with “movie stars.” Though, it kind of sounds like they just use him for rides.

Spike Lee (@SpikeLee)

Just Got Off Da Phone Wit’ My Main Man MJ-Michael Jordan. He Was Laughing At Me Cuz’ His BobCats Rolled Over Da Orange And Blue. Why?Why?Why?

This looks extremely hard to have typed—what with all the first-letter capping and non-English. Just knowing how much effort went into such a name-droppy statement makes this profoundly agitating. Hate to put you on blast, Spike, but you did the wrong thing.

Zachary Levi (@ZacharyLevi)

Just devoured a tray of oysters with @themandymoore & company. It’s weird when you stop to think about what we eat.

We got a real “Spike Lee” over here! Come on, dude from Chuck, let’s not get off topic here. Point is you were hanging with Mandy Moore. Fuck some oyster ponderings!

reggie watts (@reggiewatts)

Just had such a great conversation with JJ Abrams today. Such an inspired ideaFactory he is. I regret only having seen Cloverfield!#catchup

Well, hey man, some of us regret never having talked to J. J. Abrams.

Adam Shankman (@adammshankman)

Bonding with @eliroth over crying like a baby during toystory 3, and resting for massive bday party tomorrow night. Can’t freakin wait

Adam Shankman is my number-one news source for Eli Roth conversation topics. I gotta say, though, I wonder if Eli knows that he just goes off and tweets what their conversations together were. If I were Eli (and I’m not), it would make talking to Adam Shankman way less fun.

brian redban (@redban)

So Thursday I met John Mayer, Friday I met 50 Cent… at this rate, tonight im smoking weed with Jim Morrison and Terri Schiavo.

I don’t truly get what this means. It has the cadence of a joke, but it really doesn’t stack up on the back end, making sense-wise. Regardless: humblebrag.

Rex Sorgatz (@fimoculous)

Good or bad?: I recognize three or four acquaintances every time I page through Lucky.


Jeffrey Ross (@realjeffreyross)

Hey @JuddApatow What was that Quentin Tarantino joke u told me while back? He’s the honoree at our private Friars Roast this Wednesday.

The Boastmaster General! (What you need to know to understand this brilliant play on words is that Jeff Ross refers to himself as the “Roastmaster General.”)

Judalina Neira (@TheJudalina)

I have a meeting with a Coppola tomorrow and I have absolutely no idea how I got it or what it’s about. (reality + tech something or other)

Allllllright, I’ll bite: Which Coppola is it?

Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow)

Geek moment. Was introduced to Bono at a party. I said my name clearly when introduced. Praying for any hint of Judd awareness. NOTHING.

As a writer who would like to have a movie made at some point, I probably will regret saying this, but I would maybe consider retiring the phrase “Judd awareness.” (Also, Judd: Huge fan. Loved Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Superbad, etc.)

Kristen Ortiz (@LilMissKO)

In Hwood, when u take a pic w/a celeb, ur automatically dating them. 2 clear up NE rumors, I am NOT dating Zac Efron. My <3 is w/@samventura

No one suspected that. All good.

Nathan Barlowe (@bummerman)

I have written R&B, Country, Electro and now for Bon Jovi. Strange life indeed.

Writing music isn’t that strange if you are a music writer. If Nathan Barlowe was a neurosurgeon who wrote for Bon Jovi, this might be kind of strange, but he isn’t.

Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco)

#justasking Does it mean I’m finally famous when Bill Clinton comes to my birthday party?

I think you were finally famous when you joined the NFL. You know that, right?

Mark Salling (@MarkSalling)

wow, was on the way to Clives party and had to turn around upon hearing the news. too tragic. God rest your soul Whitney.

A thing I see frequently in the humblebrag game is people taking someone’s death and making it about themselves. I’m sure Mark was genuinely very sad about Whitney, but I don’t think he needed to mention that he was on his way to “Clive’s” party. Also, don’t call him just “Clive.” That’s gross. Also, don’t do it at all.

Michael Yo (@MichaelYo)

I hate taking pictures with @KimKardashian #Gorgeous… She makes me feel so ugly standing next to her:)… Not even going to tweet our photo.

She’s prettier than you ’cause she’s a girl.

James Cameron (@JimCameron)

ryan seacrest told me I had to get on Twitter. So here I am. First tweet. I feel younger already.

Titanic director droppin’ the ’Crest!

Matt Braunger (@Braunger)

My second day of shooting with Bryan Cranston is almost over. I’m not bragging, I’m sad.

Hey hey hey, I’ll be the judge of what you’re doing!

Rachelle Lefevre (@RachelleLefevre)

Huge congrats 2 Paul Giamatti & Kevin Spacey on Globe noms! Worked w both on the films & they r beyond genius. Honored 2 have worked w them!

Sucks there’s no Golden Globe for “making things about you.”

Tina Cervasio (@MSGTina)

In @Amareisreal press conference and Kanye West just walked through and said hi to me and that just totally distracted me. #Knicks #msg

Sounds rough. Hopefully you could refocus. Thanks for sharing!

Billy Bush (@billybush)

Haha @jlo heard u just sent a bunch of Venus Goddess razors to my office 4 me 2 give my wife… who needs 2 STOP using my razor on her legs!!

I, too, tweet all of my thank-you notes.

Dave Dameshek (@Dameshek)

Just was hangin on the field w Aniston, Sandler and Owen Wilson, then yapped w Mel Blount. Yawn…

I know this was intended as a joke, with the whole “yawn” thing, but you are still genuinely conveying that information to us.

David Hemingson (@DavidHemingson)

Just played tennis with Bradley Cooper, who has an arm like a rocket. So: handsome, very cool and major athlete, in case your keeping score.

We weren’t keeping score.

karey dornetto (@kareydornetto)

chevy chase called me homophobic. #bestvdayever

Megan Ganz (@meganganz)

Chevy Chase asked if I was a lesbian. It was just like I always imagined it would be.

Dueling Chevy Chase brags!

Nathan Rabin (@nathanrabin)

I’m at a fancy hotel preparing to interview a famous rock star. My homeless chic look has never been more appropriate!

The ever impressive nameless name-drop. Nicely done, Rabin. Nicely done.

Brett Erlich (@bretterlich)

If you were wondering where Nick Lachey is, the answer is “this party I’m at.”

No one has ever wondered that.

Lesley Kat (@lesleykat)

So um what does one wear to a party in which John Hamm is present?

I would say wear whatever’s comfortable. He will not care one way or the other.

Derek Blasberg (@DerekBlasberg)

So I spill ONE drink at this party and of course the ONE person to see it is @NicoleRichie, which means I’ll NEVER hear the end of it.

Wait, who won’t you never hear the end of it from? Nicole Richie? If so, why? Is that a thing of hers? Making fun of people for spilling drinks? I don’t get it.

Don Jamieson (@realdonjamieson)

Hanging with Kirk Hammett, Uli Jon Roth, Trunk, Florentine at Soho House talking metal, drinking wine! Not bad for a slob from NJ!

I can’t stress this enough: Being in the same room as celebrities doesn’t qualify as “hanging out” with them.

DelbertShoopman (@DelbertShoopman)

Partying with Ashley Judd is overrated.


You know how I know you aren’t partying with Ashley Judd? Because you’re tweeting about partying with Ashley Judd.

Jason Pinter (@jasonpinter)

Pitchapalooza release calls me a ‘local celebrity’.

Celebrities they approached first: the Naked Cowboy, the Soup Nazi, Letterman’s janitor.

Yeah, but what’s Pitchapalooza… is the thing…

Greta Van Susteren (@gretawire)

Ugh. I just pocket dialed spokesperson for Pentagon.

After I retweeted this one, Greta Van Susteren blogged about how she didn’t think this was a humblebrag because she calls the Pentagon regularly for her job, so why would she brag about it?

Well, if you didn’t think pocket dialing the spokesperson for the Pentagon is interesting or unique, then why tweet about it at all? Bam! Your move, Susteren!

Matthew Lillard (@MatthewLillard)

Spirit awards today. Playing Mafia with Tim Tebow tonight. Oscars tomorrow? Wtf!! I’m so cool this weekend. Next week I’ll be lame again.

I love Matthew Lillard. Revelatory performances in Scream and Serial Mom. Also, when I retweeted this tweet, he seemed genuinely embarrassed and I felt kinda bad. However, this is totally a Tebow-humblebrag. Also, sorry Matt, but playing Mafia with Tim Tebow is already pretty lame.

Tommy Johnagin (@tommyjohnagin)

i had a moment with tina fey tonight. then i lingered and ruined everything. typical.

You typically have moments with Tina Fey?

Charles Melton (@_MELTON_)

Hanging out with topher grace the other day wasn’t that bad. Funny dude

That’s good. Keep us posted.

Charles Thorp (@charlesthorp)

Talked about photography w/ Ryan Phillippe at the @Stoli party for Bang Bang Club (opens today). Apparently he’s not any good at it either.

This was a suspenseful one. Thought it was gonna be all brag, but then he tacked on the humble right there at the end. Close one.

Jason Berger (@jayberger)

My email got hacked. So I just sent Olivia Munn an email about Viagra. Great.

Your Twitter got hacked. Someone is sending out tweets about how Olivia Munn is in your email contacts.

Fortune Feimster (@fortunefunny)

Just had a 30 minute conversation with John Mayer at the SNL after party cuz he liked me on “Last Comic.” How is this my life?

Yes, however in the world did you get John Mayer to talk to you? Oh, wait, you are a girl and alive.

Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan)

In the odd department, was just emailing back and forth with Jessica Biel’s dad. Yeah.

Not that odd. Her dad isn’t a famous actress. Nice try though.

Mancow Muller (@MancowMuller)

Drink w/ Bono @ Whiskey last night… SHOCKED he remembered me.

Were you his bartender?

Andy Blanco (@andyblancomusic)

It’s time for the Tonys! Watching them with the cast and crew from two Tony nominated plays. I feel so much less important right now.

For reals?? To me, you are so much MORE important right now.

Jamie Keiles (@msjamiekeiles)

still adjusting to being the kind of person who has met people that are in the movies on her netflix queue.

It ain’t easy. Also, sidenote, every movie on the planet is on Netflix. My home movies from childhood are on there. Point being, to meet someone who is in a movie on Netflix ain’t that special.

David Rosiak (@DavidRosiak)

My day: hung out with Corey Feldman, spoke on a panel and received a machete engraved with mine and Matt’s names. I have a strange life.

Hanging out with Corey Feldman doesn’t really deserve bragging rights (sorry, Corey, it doesn’t), but this guy is still bragging about it. It’s like an old philosophical question: If a brag isn’t a brag, is it still a brag?

Audrie Renee Segura (@Audrie_Segura)

So funny I’m always around celebrities half the time I don’t know who they are-i had a convo w/ Collin Farrel & had no idea

Not that funny.

Melissa Tan (@melissatan)

Marshall from HIMYM tried to buy me a drink at Hemlock last night, but it made me feel like he was cheating on Lily! #IwatchtoomuchTV

I bet the actual story is that he successfully bought you a drink. Otherwise, you’re an insane person who thinks TV is real?

Kaitlin Shram (@KaitlinHeather)

Just heard “goodbye my lover” by james blunt and had a flashback 2 when he asked me to come to winnipeg with him. #yikes

Man, sorry to hear about your Vietnam-level flashbacks. I don’t know how you find the strength to carry on.

Elena Parasco (@Elepara)

hm. dancing with david beckham last night = overrated. hes not that hot. and he dances to techno weird.

Thanks for the reconnaissance!

Jenny Mollen (@jennyandteets)

Help! I’m w Cory Feldman and I don’t know how not to tell him I loved THE BURBS!

You are handling this situation very well! Also, this is the second Corey Feldman humblebrag in the book. I think this is the most work he’s gotten in years.

Kenna Burima (@KennaBurima)

You know yer exhausted when you meet Dallas Green in the lobby and he invites you for a drink but you opt for the heavenly bed instead #cfmf

This is like a shitty, humblebrag version of a Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck if…” joke.

Ugh, Flying First Class Is So Ugh!

I have never seen someone fly first class without telling someone about it. I get it. It’s exciting, but NO ONE wants to hear about it. It either means you are rich or got upgraded due to your mileage reward points. Neither thing is cool. Let the extra seat recline be enough of an award without needing the recognition. Or, you could follow the example of these men and women and just humblebrag about it.

Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann)

Promise not to swamp you but this is breakfast in Delta 1st: Cheerios. MF’ing Cheerios (in coach they get gravel)

The nerve (of you, for posting this)!

Addison Timlin (@Addijay)

The novelty of being flown first class will never wear off, I’m constantly looking around waiting for them to remove me.

The novelty of this tweet wore off very quickly.


How the fuck do you fart on 1st class? Really c’mon fuck

You wouldn’t happen to be implying via a fart, that you are in first class, would you? However, I do find it amusing if Ben Baller (trademark) was sitting in coach, and is just really good at tracing farts. Like Daredevil or something. That was Daredevil’s thing, right? He went blind and then could smell farts from afar?

Chris Ziegler (@zpower)

sitting on the tarmac for hours in first class: sucks approximately as much as sitting on the tarmac for hours in coach, turns out.

Agree to disagree!

Al Thornton (@AThornton14)

Its crazy when u the only black person in 1st class all the crazy looks u get… this guy askd if I was rapper. I said no I’m a swimmer. Lmao

Swimmin’ in money that is! From basketball! Which allows you to fly in first class! Which you are humblebragging about!

Jessica Welman (@jesswelman)

First class plane service just blows me away. I don’t think I got as much attention from my own mother when I was a newborn child.

Leave your mother out of this, ma’am!

Wendy Luckenbill (@luckywendy)

American Airlines first class is the equivalent of Virgin’s coach. #epicfail AA!

I dunno, Virgin coach is pretty awesome.

Hal Edward Runkel (@HalRunkel)

Even in 1st class, redeyes just suck.

Do not!

(I should mention that after calling him out on this on the feed, Hal wrote an incredibly nice email saying he realizes the error of his ways and that his family was now ragging on him endlessly about it. I felt guilty. So, naturally the next logical thing to do was publish him in the book. Enjoy, Runkels!)

evan turner (@thekidet)

I hate when first class is no diff than coach.


Not a waste at all. You pay more to get to tell people about it.

Kris Allen (@krisallen)

I love how people get freaked out when I don’t fly 1st class. On a 45 min flight? Seriously? Not worth it.

Now, this one is interesting because it’s about how he is NOT flying first class at the moment, but the rest of the statement implies that for flights over forty-five minutes, he does in fact fly first class. Also, chill out, Kris Allen. No one is freaked out in the slightest. You won a singing contest a long time ago.

Ugh, Being Hot Sure Can Be Annoying!

You know how hot people are the worst? They are. But, what’s even worse than that is when they talk about how hot they are. And yet, what’s even worse than that—“What?!” you say! “What’s worse than that,” you go on to say! Well, humblebragging about being hot is worse than that. It’s worse than anything. Can’t they just be content with their finely sculpted bodies and symmetric ear placement! (My ears aren’t even. It’s a big insecurity of mine. It makes an even sideburn shave a near impossibility.)

Dara Torres (@DaraTorres)

On deck at U of Mizzou getn ready 2 warmup. Some swimmer said “Dara Torres, ur much prettier than I remember!”. Is that a compliment? Ha!

Yes. Obviously a compliment!

Megan Ganz (@meganganz)

Someone told me this week that I was so cute, she wanted to “stick me in a Gap ad.” Compliment?

Yes. It is inarguably a compliment. What’s up with people not knowing what compliments are?


Excerpted from Humblebrag by Harris Wittels Copyright © 2012 by Harris Wittels. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction xi

Ugh, I Know Famous People! 1

Ugh, Flying First Class Is So Ugh! 19

Ugh, Being Hot Sure Can Be Annoying! 23

Ugh, It's Tough Being a Model 36

Ugh, I'm Too Skinny! 40

Ugh, People Keep Hitting on Me! 44

Ugh, I Hate Having All This Money! 51

Ugh, It's Hard Being So Charitable! 60

Ugh, Being an Author Is Hard! 65

Totes McGotes 72

"Weird"/"Awkward"/"Surreal" 81

Humblebrags from Throughout History 90

Ugh, Can You Believe They Included Me on This List? 100

Ugh, I Can't Believe I Won an Award/Ugh, I Can't Believe I'm at This Awards Show 105

Ugh, I'm "Genuinely" Asking! 114

Ugh, I'm So Successful 117

Ugh, I'm a Genius 130

Uh-oh, I'm on TV! 134

Ugh, I Can't Believe I Was Mentioned in This Thing! 150

Ugh, I'm at an Exclusive Event! 154

Um, How'd I Get Here??? How Is This My Life??? 165

Ugh, I'm So Humble! 169

Ugh, It's So Weird Getting Recognized! 173

Ugh, I Hate People Wanting My Picture and Autograph All the Time! 179

Ugh, Several Things! (The Multi-Humblebrag) 185

Ugh, I Travel Too Much! 190

Repeat Offenders 195

Miscellaneous 223

Humblebrags in Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches 235

Now What? 247

Acknowledgments 249

Sources 251

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