Katharine Weymouth is perhaps Washington’s most eligible woman. Attractive, intelligent, and powerful, she’s the granddaughter of the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and now is publisher of the Post herself.
But don’t cross Weymouth: You might wind up lampooned in a Nick Galifianakis cartoon.
In Galifianakis’s new book, If You Loved Me, You’d Think This Was Cute, Weymouth’s ex-husband, Richard Scully, doesn’t come off so well. In one cartoon, a Weymouth look-alike is seated beside a giant leech, drool coming from his mouth. “Prenup?” he asks. “It’s because I’m a leech, isn’t it?”
“He never runs them by me,” Weymouth says of the cartoons.
Weymouth and Galifianakis are close. You might see her on his arm out and about. They were together at the October wedding of Pary Anbaz-Williamson and Quinn Bradlee, son of former Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and writer Sally Quinn.
But Galifianakis did run the book by his cousin, Zach Galifianakis, star of The Hangover and It’s Kind of a Funny Story, who jokes in the book’s foreword: “Nick has been my roommate, friend, and lover.”
Galifianakis’s book is filled with cartoons that illustrated columns by his former wife, Washington Post advice guru Carolyn Hax. They’re funny and irreverent, cynical and real.
“Cutting 4,000 down to 1,200 almost killed me,” he says. “From 1,200 to 800, I almost killed everyone else.”
Galifianakis, 48, was born in North Carolina and grew up in Falls Church, graduating from J.E.B. Stuart High. At the University of North Carolina, he was headed for a medical career.
“I had always doodled,” he says. “In college, I started having my own opinions: I had something to say and a graphic vocabulary to say it.”
His first published cartoon—in the Marietta Daily Journal in 1988—took a stance against smoking in public. The paper paid him $15.
The local Journal Newspapers, a now-defunct suburban chain, hired him as a cartoonist in 1990. He met Hax, then an editor at Army Times. They married in 1994. Three years later, Hax was editing at the Post when editors encouraged her to try an advice column, with Galifianakis drawing some images.
“I took her idea and ran with it,” he says.
Hax’s column is now syndicated in more than 200 newspapers and is one of the most popular on Washingtonpost.com.
“It’s always been a very easy collaboration,” Galifianakis says. “No column has run without my input; no cartoon has ever run without her input.” Even when he and Hax divorced in 2001 and she married a high-school friend.
“We never missed a column,” Galifianakis says. “We succeeded in keeping what’s best between us. We’re not just business partners—we’re friends and family.” Hax’s children with her second husband call him Uncle Nick.
Galifianakis’s friends and family fill his book. He draws Hax. Himself. His father, Peter Galifianakis, an artist. The cartoonist’s friend Jerry Korcak is the fat guy on the cover.
The most constant likeness, besides Galifianakis himself, is his “best friend,” Zuzu, his dog who died this summer. Galifianakis’s Style essay, with illustration, about Zuzu after her death brought “a tsunami of mail and empathy,” he says.
Weymouth showed plenty of empathy when she fed Galifianakis dinner a few times a week after his divorce.
“She’s very maternal,” he says.
But they’re just friends.
This article first appeared in the December 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.