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The Schmooze

Why is Seth Rogen so weirdly good at pottery?

These days, Instagram is a great place to go if you want to feel bad about the productive quarantine hobbies you don’t have.

People, you will discover if you venture into this app for even one minute, are making their own lemon curd. They are expanding their consciousness through breathwork. They are knitting sweaters way less lumpy than the sweaters I knit and embroidering minuscule rolls of toilet paper onto genuinely adorable 2020 samplers. They are reading “The Power Broker.” (The whole thing!) They are doing all these things while simultaneously documenting their new pursuits with whimsically candid snapshots.

Lest you doubt the power and reach of this phenomenon, know that even Seth Rogen has been sucked in. Yes, Seth Rogen, the brains behind every stoner movie in the last decade. Yes, Seth Rogen, the living embodiment of male resistance to productive hobbies.

That same Seth Rogen, it turns out, is really into pottery. And, by the power vested in me by two semesters of high school ceramics, I declare he is very good at it.

Rogen took up this hobby for exactly the reasons you would expect — he needed a better ashtray to hold his blunts. “I’m always looking for a little place to rest my joints—a little bed,” he told Interview magazine. When he couldn’t find what he envisioned, he made it: a small cup for ashes soldered to a delicate trough on which half-smoked doobies can safely recline. “Right away, I really responded to smoking weed with the ashtrays that I had made, even though they were really sh—ty at first.”

Long before the pandemic began, ashtray arrangements began creeping into Rogen’s feed, supplemented by the occasional bud vase or bowl.

Things escalated after stay-at-home orders took effect. In mid-March, Rogen showed off a handmade soap dispenser. In April, he revealed he’d had a kiln installed in his house. (In case you were wondering, the kiln is named Brad Pitt, because “it gets hot as f—k.”). Now, his social media presence consists entirely of ceramic sake sets, ceramic pots housing thriving plants, and detailed videos of crackled ceramic glazes which (per Seth Rogen) are very difficult to achieve.

Even his obligatory voter turnout appeal back in November was ceramic-centered: A snapshot of a vase accompanied by the brag-slash-plea, “I made this. Please for the love of god vote.”

You might not want all of Seth Rogen’s creations, which range in aesthetic from finance-bro-with-more-money-than-taste to made-by-your-mom-who-almost-attended-Woodstock, in your living room. But, like the 79 people who signed this petition begging Seth Rogen to share his art with the world, you have to admit — he really knows what he’s doing.

And watching him learn has been weirdly fun. In part, that’s because there’s no temptation to compare. The knowledge that my college acquaintances have used their time to perfect their lattice pie crusts fills me with shame for my lackluster time management skills. Not so with Seth Rogen, a world-famous celebrity in possession of a Los Angeles compound and the power to summon famous ceramicists to his side at all times — of course he’s thriving in quarantine.

But it’s also ironically endearing to watch an actor who made his name mocking earnest endeavors of all kinds become the unlikely face of pandemic-era cottage industry. With every speckled jar he proudly thrusts at the camera, Seth Rogen seems less like his can’t-grow-up on-screen avatars and more like — well, a normal person who knows that in times of unprecedented anxiety, it can be helpful to get really, really into something.

“I find it more relaxing to actually create more things and find more outlets of expression,” Rogen told Interview. “That, to me, is more relaxing than just sitting around doing nothing — sometimes.”

Same here, Seth Rogen — sort of. I wish I could say I’ll go work on my knitting after filing this piece, but I’ll probably check Instagram first.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com. Follow her on Twitter at @katz_conn.

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