Adam Rotstein ’13 knows where you went to high school. He can probably name your hometown, too. Not that he’s a creeper. A self-described “Rolodex of personal information” with a “stout, nebbishy exterior,” Rotstein has made his weirdly encyclopedic knowledge of other people into a hit at parties and has become uncomfortably popular.
Whether at Lunchbox performances or on Twitter, Rotstein’s trademark snark is a staple at Wesleyan. Next month, he’s graduating a semester early and beginning an internship with “The Colbert Report.” I bolted over to 80 Lawn to interview him as he soaked his ingrown toenail and tried to convince me that he attends consulting recruiting sessions ironically.
The Argus: What makes you a WesCeleb?
Adam Rotstein: There are probably three things that make me a WesCeleb. The first is my proclivity toward really superficial friendships with people from all over our class. The second would be the fact that I know where probably close to 30 or 40 percent of our graduating class went to high school. Maybe more. And the third is my pretty dismal presence on campus.
A: Dismal presence?
AR: I don’t do very much, so maybe that’s what makes me an interesting WesCeleb. It’s the conflict of interest between me being a WesCeleb and me not being particularly active. I’m like a dark knight WesCeleb.
A: You mean dark horse?
AR: Yeah, dark horse. Sorry.
A: Do you do anything on campus?
AR: I’m in a sketch comedy group called Lunchbox, which is pretty much my one extracurricular activity. I didn’t even start doing it until junior year. So freshman and sophomore year I did a lot of napping, and I smoked a lot of weed, and then I stopped sophomore year because it made me too anxious. Other than that, I took voice lessons for three semesters; I was in an opera. I’ve changed my major close to five times. I’ve just been generally really confused. I think I handled the open curriculum here terribly. I think I would’ve really thrived at a school like Columbia, with a solid core curriculum.
It took me until the end of my junior year to realize that I wish I were an English major, and now I’m a Neurobiology major. It’s so Wesleyan, but whatever. It’s just a $200,000 mistake.
A: You changed your major close to five times? Tell me about that.
AR: I came into Wesleyan wanting to study psychology because I was really interested in clinical psychology. I realized that there was a stigma about being a Psych major in college, and my ego was too big for that. And then being a Neuro major was a disaster because I had to take Orgo and Chem over the summer, and that wasn’t really me either.
A: Is it awkward that your career plans don’t really align with your major at all?
AR: It’s awful. The ultimate irony of my life is that I ended up taking all of these classes I wasn’t interested in because I couldn’t stand the blow to my ego that was being a Psych major. And when I enter the world of entertainment, I have a feeling I’m going to start telling people I’m a Psych major.
A: Tell me about the opera you were in.
AR: There’s a class here called Opera and Oratorical Ensemble. It’s just a class, and at the end of it is a show, and it was in Crowell. I think there were close to 20 people at the show, at least 12 of which were directly blood-related to me. It also couldn’t have been good either because I had strep throat.
A: How’d you get so popular on campus?
AR: My personality really lends itself to these 30-second sound bits. I can walk over to a table in Usdan and perform really well. I got time for four jokes, one anecdote, and I have a really good memory for not only names but everything about people’s lives. I’ll ask a very flattering, endearing question to the people, and I’ll usually leave like, Bang! I’m always leaving on bangs.
A: You have a lot of friends.
AR: I would say that I have a ton of auxiliary friends, like the people that I ask how their semester’s going on Fountain. I have a large community of those people, and I’m not proud of it, and a lot of times it’s actually really stressful to even maintain small talk with them, but sometimes under the right circumstances I just seem to be, like, prone to it. So I would say that a large percentage of the people that know me probably have no idea that I’m not going to be here in the spring. So that’s interesting.
A: How do you know where everyone went to high school?
AR: My best friend thinks this is, like, a result of me compensating for my own banality. [Because of] the fact that there’s nothing outstandingly interesting about my life, I’m able to gain leverage by knowing things about everyone else. The leverage I gain by knowing things about everyone else inherently makes me more interesting.
A: Because you went to a dull high school?
AR: An upper middle-class public school in New Jersey. If I was from a low-income background and was this success story, or if I was from a really elite school and my dad was a famous investment banker or artist, I wouldn’t feel the need to compensate.
I actually have a protégé now. His name is Nate Jacobs [ ’13]. Hamilton High School. So now he’ll be like, “Oh, Sophie Duncan [ ’13]—Newton North.”
A: Where did I go to high school?
AR: You went to Horace Greeley High School, which is in Chappaqua. If you want to know who else went there from our graduating class, I’d be happy to tell you.
A: Another time. You’re working at “The Colbert Report” next semester. How’d that come about?
AR: This past summer I applied to be an intern at “The Colbert Report.” And I got rejected. So then I sent them an email in September and was like, “Hey! Can I just apply again?” And they were like, “Yeah!” And I called the woman. And she was like, “Listen. I really liked you in the spring, but the summer’s just really busy. And you can be an intern at “The Colbert Report” in the spring.”
A: What are your duties going to be on the Colbert show?
AR: I think mostly getting coffee for the people that are getting people coffee.
A: Is it a paid internship?
AR: No, it’s unpaid, like in the show “Girls” that you don’t watch. Does everyone know that I got favorited by Lena Dunham [on Twitter]? I want people to know that.
A: Want to explain it?
AR: Lena Dunham went to Oberlin, and she actually went to Saint Ann’s, which is—I’ll just flex my knowledge here—a very progressive Brooklyn private school that sends a lot of kids to Wesleyan. Then she was a struggling creative-type in Brooklyn post-college, and that’s sort of how I envision my future, so I wanted to connect with her. So I ordered a “Girls” poster and I put it on my wall and took a picture of it and tweeted at her, “This is in my dorm room at Wesleyan. And I plan on moving it to Brooklyn when I graduate.” And she favorited it.
A: Who in our class year went to Saint Ann’s?
AR: Lucas Wherry [’13], Chris Lee [’13], and Alex Karasz [’13]. And if any of those three knew that I knew that, it would probably be really awkward.
A: You were a counselor for a service trip to Costa Rica this summer. How was that?
AR: Yeah, I like to say I was a counselor for overprivileged teenagers. We zip-lined and did all these really fancy expensive adventure-type things and then did 30 minutes of Habitat For Humanity where one girl broke a nail by picking up a shovel.
A: You’re obsessed with your dog. What’s her name?
AR: Sofie was my dog’s name. She was a yellow lab. They tend to get a lot of fatty tumors toward the end of their life. She had one that literally overtook her torso. She passed away. And she was my only true friend.
A: How do you memorialize her today?
AR: [I] actually just Instagrammed my first picture of her, which I think she would’ve wanted. It was actually just a picture of a bunch of scattered bones and ash, but it was still a pretty good picture. I dug her up and put a sepia filter on.
A: Anything else you think should be mentioned about yourself?
AR: Oh, I can do a really good horse impression. [sits up] [makes clucking sound] [nays] [whinnies] [makes amazing loud horse squealing sound]