Ask Cat: Is it Ever OK to Humblebrag?

The comedian tackles questions about ending bad dates early, moving back home, and spending money on silly little treats.

The comedian Catherine Cohen standing on a New York City crosswalk in a form-fitting black dress.
Catherine Cohen photographed by Ryan Lowry, styled by Daniel Gaines.

Catherine Cohen is a comedian and actress. In her original show tunes, in her character videos, and on her popular podcast Seek Treatment (cohosted with fellow comedian Pat Regan), she skewers the clichés of millennial aspiration, deadpans about sex on antidepressants, and earnestly celebrates such triumphs as finding love or drinking seven beers. Her Netflix special, The Twist...? She’s Gorgeous, and her book, God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems From a Gal About Town, are out now.

Have a question for Catherine? Send it to for a chance to be answered in her next column.

How do I save money when I love spending it on silly little treats?

Money is sooo annoying. There should be more of it and we should all get a lot of it whenever we want, but I’m told this is not how “the economy” works. Society is a drag! Sometimes it really is important to buy something to feel alive—how life-affirming to find yourself in a Sephora on a blustery afternoon and spend $78 on goo for no reason, how invigorating to leave your apartment just to buy an almond croissant! By the way, WHAT are they putting in there?! It doesn’t taste like an almond to me, Mrs. Chef!

But sadly, this kind of spending will not fill the void—trust me and my large pile of “exercise dresses” that I have not once worked out in. Life can’t be fun all the time because then fun wouldn’t feel fun, it would just feel like…life. Damn she went there.

Here are a few things that have helped me not go into financial ruin: carrying cash (important to physically feel what is being taken from you), saving up for a dream item (every time you want to buy a crop top from H&M, add the amount it would cost to your Saks Potts coat fund instead), and online window shopping. Clicking “add to cart” is such a RUSH! Sometimes I fill whole online shopping carts, leave the tab up for a while, then x out when I realize I’m fine without any of those things. Buying things makes you feel good for about eight minutes but then it’s eight minutes later and you feel the same. Unless it’s like…a really good almond croissant.

Should I move back home?

Smokes weed once: what even *is* home, man? I assume in this case you mean should you move back to your hometown? Sure! As adolescents, it’s our goddess-given right to loathe our hometown, to long for an escape to a big city where people with tattoos will invite us to an art gallery. THAT is living. But city life gets old, you’ve been to one party, you’ve been to them all and I’ve never felt anything but shy and cold/sweaty at an art gallery. As time passes, it makes sense to yearn for the comfort and stability of reliable things—a simple framework upon which to build a future. There’s beauty in taking the lessons you’ve learned thus far and returning home with a greater appreciation for what makes a life good. But are you running from or towards something? If you’re planning to move back, revert to your teenage behaviors and stave off adulthood, think again. The burden of adult responsibility will find you even when you’re swaddled in your childhood bed. This is all to say, there is no shame in going back where you came from. You can always leave, you’ve done it before!

Is there such a thing as a good salon in New York City? Not like hair, like Gertrude Stein.

Almost certainly. It’s New York, darling! Gorgeous gatherings are happening on every corner, in every wet basement and illegal rooftop you can imagine. And instead of waiting for the address or the invite, why not start your own thing? I’ve always found that the best way to be a part of what you have in mind is to create it yourself. Get some pals together, start a weekly meetup with a cultural theme—it could be a reading series, a writing group, an art critique session, whatever you fancy—at a café or your apartment. Word will naturally spread. And in the meantime, come check out my weekly show at Club Cumming, we always have a good time <3

I’m quitting a toxic work environment and have no backup plan. I know I need to leave but how can I feel confident in my decision? Quitting is scary!

Quitting IS scary! How fabulous! To do something that makes you feel possible and new. You’ve already made the decision, so no need to wrestle with it. You will quit and you will find another job. It might not be perfect right away, but it will likely be better than the current situation you find yourself in. Don’t harp on all the things that could go wrong (my favorite activity), rather, imagine all the things that can go RIGHT now that you’ve made space for change.

Are you mad at me?

Not at all. The only person I’ve ever really been mad at is myself. And [redacted], you KNOW what you did. Xo

How do you end a date early when it’s going poorly without being mean because you still want everyone ever to always like you?

Totally. Is the date going poorly in a way that will be a good story later? Stay on the date. Is the date slurping out your life force one tedious anecdote at a time? Tell them your tummy hurts in a baby voice and crawl out on all fours. Or just say you have an early morning call, or a headache. Make it about you and it’s not mean.

Now that isn’t to say you won’t hurt their feelings. Dating is a (psychological) contact sport. Your feelings will get hurt; you will hurt other people’s feelings. No risk, no reward baby! Your time is valuable. Don’t spend it on a $20 martini with someone who doesn’t ask you questions.

How do you humblebrag without sounding like a douche?

No one likes a braggart—be they humble or not. Bragging in a conversation always has the opposite of the intended effect—you don’t seem accomplished, you come off as insecure. As I’ve journaled to myself countless times “bitch stop thinking about yourself!!!!!” Don’t try to impress others—invest in others. Become interested in the world and the world will take interest in you, you wonderful thing.