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Why Ross Mathews decided to 'Man Up!'

By Tess Gilbert, Special to CNN
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
Comedian Ross Mathews'
Comedian Ross Mathews' "Man Up!" is due out on May 7.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ross Mathews doubles as "Tonight Show" correspondent and "Chelsea Lately" guest
  • His memoir "Man Up!" is due out on May 7
  • Mathews: "This book is about me, and the world through my eyes"

(CNN) -- Big, bright and bubbly -- comedian Ross Mathews never apologizes for who he is.

Between duties as a "Tonight Show" correspondent and guest appearances on E!'s late-night talk show "Chelsea Lately," the 33-year-old covers a lot of ground in the 200-plus pages of his new memoir "Man Up!"

He shares with readers the story of how he came out to his parents and why overcoming personal insecurities, like his high-pitched voice, were key to his success.

Ahead of his memoir's May 7 release, Mathews sat down with CNN to share a few juicy details and explain why he's not leaving anything out.

CNN: In your book, you say you always knew you'd write a memoir. You've been in the business for a little over a decade, so why did you decide to do it now?

Mathews: As I was working in Hollywood and sort of amassing these stories I thought, 'Remember all of this. Write it down.' It just felt like the right time. Especially with Chelsea's (Handler) success in the literary world, when she heard I wanted to write a book she said 'I want to publish this.' It just felt like the perfect time.

CNN: You divulge more than a few secrets in the book. Was there anything that you held back or something you thought twice about before printing?

Mathews: Well, you know this book is about me, and the world through my eyes. If I didn't tell every story -- the ones where I was a hero and the ones where I wasn't a hero -- then there was no point in telling it. The only time I ever held back is when it was about someone else. I didn't want to throw anybody else under the bus, but I definitely bear everything out about me. I mean there's nothing off limits in the book. I mean, I tell every sordid detail of my life -- the pretty and the not-so-pretty.

CNN: You said that you got your start, in part, because of an attribute you were once ashamed of, your voice. How has that shaped who you are today?

Mathews: (Laughs) OK, listen, at a certain point I just had to realize puberty d*cked me over. So I just said, 'Use it! Shake your moneymaker.' My brother used to make fun of me, people in school used to make fun of me and I just realized one day that this is the card you've been dealt, use it to your advantage. And when I did that, everything changed for me.

CNN: A lot of kids and, let's face it, adults struggle with their insecurities. At what point in your life, did you decide you were going to let go?

Mathews: I don't know if I can mark the day. I remember feeling it happening, though. It was when I found really great friends in school. Suddenly, I had those moments where I forgot to be insecure. Sometimes I'd catch myself and be like 'God, I wish I could be like this all the time.' So I just eventually began challenging myself to feel that way. And not to be too preachy, but I would really recommend to people, if you get the chance, to trust yourselves to leap without a net, because that will build the confidence. You know, you might shock yourself with how much you don't need a net because you can catch yourself.

CNN: You decided to make the very last chapter of the book about the day you realized you were gay. Was there a reason behind that?

Mathews: That was very much on purpose. Again, I define 'man up' as you are what you are. Love yourself, whatever makes you different, and use it to make you stand out. Mine is my voice and the fact that I'm gay, well, the fact that I'm flamboyantly gay. But I didn't want the book to only be about that.

I am a gay man, but it's not only a gay story. Whatever people have to 'man up' about, that's their own version. It can be big ears, skin color, freckles, acne, whatever it is, mine is what it was. It's a universal message. You know, everybody, everybody has that thing that makes them question their worth, their importance, and, you know, this book speaks to that in each of us.

CNN: What's the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

Mathews: The most important thing to take away, if you step back, is that all these stories -- celebrity stories, stories about being caught stealing clothes from a women's store in the mall -- every one of these stories has a common thread which is: I never compromised who I was. And when I did, I made sure I never did it again. People should never apologize for who they are and they should never hide who they are. Hating yourself is so 2011.

CNN: If you could interview anyone now, who would it be?

Mathews: I would like to sit down with Oprah, just because I'd like to talk to her. I want to sit down and like, converse. Like, 'Honey, let's chat!' Actually, just put that in the story. I'm asking if anybody reading this has Oprah's e-mail or number, just call her or text her about the book! Do Uncle Ross a solid.

CNN: You started one of the last chapters by saying that one person can change the world. Do you really believe that? And if so, what's the one thing you would change?

Mathews: Listen, I know it's true because I've lived it, and I've done it, OK? I brought butternut squash back. There was a restaurant, they took an item off, I fought, they brought it back, and they named it after me, OK? And I'm just one person. And of course it's silly to say that it's changing the world, but it's just an example. It's the little things you do to say, 'No I'm not going to stand for that! I'm not going to stand for it!' Those little things add up.

CNN: Is there any other societal issue that weighs heavily on your mind?

Mathews: Yes. I think if I record a program, we have got to have the technology where I could record something on my DVR and like, e-mail it to a friend. I know this is lame, but why haven't they invented that yet?!?!

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