Jen Kirkman on Her Standup, You're Gonna "Love It, Love It, Love It"
On a scale from one to Jen...we give her a Jen.
Robyn Von Swank
Like the rest of us in this sick, sad world, Jen Kirkman has a main gig and a few on the side. Except her main gig is awesome. She's a staff writer on Chelsea Lately and her weekends are spent touring the country with her solid standup act.
But wait, there's more! Kirkman is also a New York Times bestselling author -- ranting about not wanting to have kids in I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself. Through a bevy of outlets, the one in which she gets most personal is her podcast, I Seem Fun. Unlike other talk show podcast formats, Jen just sits in a room by herself with a microphone. Her ramblings have garnered her a cult following though she maintains a mainstream streak. Before Jen comes to the improv this Friday, we chatted about writing for Chelsea, the second book slump, and why she was begging to come back to West Palm.
New Times: You're from Massachusetts. Does where you were raised affect your act?
Jen Kirkman: Some of it is about my family and they just happen to be there, so yes. But not really anymore because I haven't lived there in 16 years. I think it informs who you are when you're growing up. There are a lot of people that end up in comedy from there. I don't know if it's the cold or what it is, but it makes people cranky to the point where they end up being funny.
Your podcast is just you by yourself. How did you come up with that idea or was it just the most logical thing for you to do?
It was obvious to me from the beginning because I'm not very creative. I don't do too many things that are different from each other. It's exactly the way I work on stage, by myself. Why don't I just do that in my room where I can talk about different things?
You start talking and you're like, "Maybe I'll do a podcast." And then people say, "Maybe I'll do it with you," and then you never get it off the ground. And I just thought I don't want to have guests or co-hosts and deal with other people's schedules and having all this equipment. So, oh forget it, I just wont do it. Then one day a friend of mine gave me this microphone that plugs into this app on an iPad and that's how I do it. So simple.
You are a staff writer for Chelsea Lately and also on the roundtable. Do you have to treat those two roles differently?
We are all scheduled well in advance, the writers are on every other week. It's hard because in the morning, you are writing for Chelsea and you know you are going on and I can't think of two things at once. What would I say about this? What would she say about this? So I just kind of do my job first and then when I'm in the makeup chair, I think "What do I think about this?"
Sometimes I'll say something in the meeting that can work for either her or myself to say, and I just hope she doesn't end up saying it, because then I'll take it back. Luckily, we are all different enough that we can usually get a fresh take on something.
You are working on a second book. Are you feeling second book slump or excited because you know exactly what you are going to write about?
A little of both. I want the second one but I don't want to do it. The first book, they wanted me to be very on topic with the no kids thing. During that time, there was some actually interesting stuff going on in my life. I was going through my divorce, I was dating. All this stuff was happening and I thought, "This would make a really good book." But I couldn't put it in the first one.
I know what I am going to write about and I'm really excited but it has to all make sense. I've started it. It is not in any kind of shape right now for anyone to look at it. It was supposed to be due in October but I pushed the date back a few months because I think I need to go live a little. Get a tattoo or something.
Once I have more free time, it will be more exciting to write and less stressful. The first book was something I did in my spare time. I want the second book to be first on my list and everything else takes a back seat for a couple of months.
Would you just hull up in your apartment for a month?
That would make me want to die. I think what I'll do is still go on the road on weekends and stuff, mixed with some apartment writing. I have been thinking about going back to New York for like a month to write. I was there a couple weeks ago and I get a lot of work done when I'm there. It's noisy. When I am in LA, it's so quiet that it's too much quiet.
It's so funny. I have this really cute home office that I do use for everything not office-y. I do everything else in it and then I do my writing on my couch with reruns of shows that I don't really want to watch but I just need that noise in the background.
Tell me a little bit about the difference between doing your standup act live and recording I Seem Fun in front of an audience.
It is very interesting. Well it's probably not that interesting. I Seem Fun is really just me talking off the top of my head. I might know the topics but I won't know the words. With my standup act, it has been honed. I know what the punchlines are going to be. But with I Seem Fun, it is really just like a friend talking to you that is just babbling.
I could not do an I Seem Fun taping for people who have never heard it. I always tell people to make sure you listen because its part of this weird little subculture. I try to make it very clear to people that know me from Chelsea. You might not like it. And they still come and get really upset. I've had people tweet at me the next day that it was awful. They are just two very different things, but both equally fun.
What do you want to tell someone before they see your standup act?
I think they will love it. And if they are one of those people that think women aren't funny, will love it, love it, love it. It's an act I've been doing everywhere for the last couple years. And so far, no complaints. Except one time someone threw up on a table in front of me but I think they were just drunk. It wasn't the show.
We're excited! it's been a long time since the Palm Beach Improv had a big female comic.
You know, I used to be Greg Behrendt's opening act. I came to the Palm Beach Improv with him in 2008, and I remember loving that club. People always make fun of Florida, everyone is old and stupid, and I'm like 'No, it was one of my favorite clubs!' There were all different ages.
I specifically asked my agent if he could get me booked there, and it just so happened I am going to be in New Orleans the next night and it worked out perfectly. I really specifically begged to come back there.
What is your favorite kind of sandwich?
My gut reaction is grilled cheese and tomato but an eggplant parmesean sub just popped into my head too. I guess anything with bread and cheese.
Jen Kirkman, live Friday, August 1, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at the Palm Beach Improv, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 250, West Palm Beach. Tickets $20 plus fees. Two-drink minimum. Call 561-833-1812, or visit palmbeachimprov.com.
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