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Seven Weeks of Summer

With her hot dog chronicle, Jamie Loftus is on a roll

Jamie LoftusAndrew Max Levy

Jamie Loftus spent the summer of 2021 criss-crossing America by car and visiting as many as five hot dog joints a day to research her new book, “Raw Dog.” It was a challenging venture in many ways, traveling during a pandemic and straining personal relationships. Not to mention the punishment that ingesting multiple dogs each day could deal to her insides.

So it’s mildly surprising that when the Globe catches up with the Massachusetts native to talk about “Jamie Loftus Presents: A Very Boston ‘Raw Dog’ Book Release Show” at Arts at the Armory in Somerville June 3, she is on her way back from a hot dog run in Philadelphia. She couldn’t resist the regional delicacy of the pretzel dog.


“I feel like my days are numbered for being able to business-expense hot dogs,” she says. “Kind of trying to run the clock out in that regard. And there’s a lot of good Philadelphia hot dogs I’ve never tried before, so I’ve been trying to run around and get as many as possible without getting sick.”

Loftus often immerses herself in her work, whether she’s writing for television shows like “Robot Chicken” and “Star Trek: Lower Decks” or creating limited-run podcasts like “My Year In Mensa,” “Lolita Podcast,” “The Aack Cast” (about the comic strip “Cathy”), or “Ghost Church,” about American spiritualism. Even though “Raw Dog” is done, she still finds herself researching wherever she goes.

“I’m very used to exhausting myself on a topic and then kind of moving on to the next one,” she says. “But I’m still independently eating them and researching them and talking to people. If there’s more to say, I will absolutely continue.”

The backbone of “Raw Dog” consists of her traveling and critiquing hot dogs from California to Texas to New England and back. But Loftus also includes personal details about her childhood in Brockton, the dissolving relationship with her boyfriend, and taking care of her father with lung cancer. She also writes about hot dogs in a historical context, covering labor practices, changing health and safety measures, and even how they came to be called “hot dogs” in the first place. She says it might be the most fun she’s had on a project.


“If it was strictly a guide book, someone else could do that much better than me,” she says. “And I wanted to make sure that people had fun reading it.”

Loftus has made a career out of offbeat comic choices. She started out in stand-up as an Emerson College student, and found her voice with performances like her one-woman show, “Boss Whom Is Girl,” about a shady corporate seminar led by her character “Shell Gasoline-Sandwich.” She moved to Los Angeles and found her sensibilities a fit for “Robot Chicken.” She’s created a podcast heralding the underappreciated comic strip character “Cathy” and once dedicated herself to eating a page of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” each day in a mocking protest of every pretentious guy who bragged to her about reading it.

The common denominator, and the thing that ensures Loftus’s projects will come from a unique point of view, is that she has to feel personally drawn to an idea. “I never want to do anything that I am not excited about or interested in,” she says. “It’s the same onstage as it is in podcasting. I feel like if you’re not present and interested, people can tell.”


Loftus will apply that logic to the shows on her book tour. She thinks book readings can be dreadfully boring events. So she plans to spice up the show at the Armory by challenging her family to a hot dog-eating contest, possibly against a local champion, and wearing a “disgusting” costume from the movie “Sausage Party.”

Her one concession to a traditional book reading will be a Q&A with friend and WGBH reporter Tori Bedford.

“I want people to be excited about the book, and I want to talk about the book. And then I also always want to make a huge mess. And have fun with people. So I’m hoping that the shows will be a combination of the two.”


At Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville. June 3 at 7 p.m. $25 (includes copy of the book). 617-718-2191,

Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at