Don't try to compartmentalize Jen Kirkman

Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 3:28pm

Don’t have a ticket to Saturday’s game? No worries. Comedian Jen Kirkman — who you may know from her appearances on “Chelsea Lately” and “Drunk History” or her podcast “I Seem Fun” — is bringing her “All New Material, Girl” Tour to the Majestic Theater Saturday night.

“I want to be as clear as possible that people are seeing material that is new to them and this isn’t me charging them to see some greatest hits of my two Netflix specials.  So, I called it the “All New Material, Girl” Tour - to drive home that point and make a Madonna pun because why not?” Kirkman wrote in an email interview with The Michigan Daily.  “It backfired in New York City recently when a man at the door wanted a refund for thirty tickets because he thought that he and his office friends were seeing Madonna perform her old hits like Material Girl. I am completely serious. So, there’s a lot of confusion apparently.  Oh, America.”

Her most recent special, “Just Keep Living,” a non-ironic nod to Matthew McConaughey’s catch phrase, premiered in January on Netflix and is the latest product of the veteran comedian. After two comedy albums, two hour specials, two books, Kirkman has no plans of slowing down.

“Yeah there’s always something cooking with me, but I don’t tell until there is something to tell.  I’ve got a necklace line going right now that I’m super excited about. Totally serious. It’s with a company called Bauble Bar and they actually partnered with a comedian and I’m selling necklaces that say things like ‘Over Forty’ and ‘Childfree’ and ‘FeministAF.’  I’m loving it. I think everyone should buy some. It’s a limited edition that ends on Dec. 31,” she wrote. “This is what happens to female comedians over forty. It’s the law that we start selling jewelry and clothing. And that’s the only time I’ll make a joke about female comedians or say the words ‘female comedians.’ ”

Alongside plugs for her necklace line, Kirkman’s Twitter is a mix of observational humour and scathing details on harassment from Bernie Bros and Russian Bots, but the balance comes naturally to her.

“I’m just a person flowing through life. I have a thought, I pull out the phone while I’m in line at CVS and I tweet. I’m a citizen on Twitter except when I’m promoting my shows. I don’t find the balance difficult or frustrating because if people want to compartmentalize me, that’s their problem. I don’t care what people think. I just want them to come to my shows and laugh. I couldn’t be more simple in that regard. I’m not worried about my “brand” or my message or my whatever,” she wrote.

But despite her politics on Twitter, she’s not looking to be labelled a “political comedian.”

“I have a strict definition of what it is to be a political comedian. I say that title literally means someone who does topical jokes every night about the news of the day, almost late night monologue style.  So, no I’m not a political comedian in that sense. The way the country is going - does influence my comedy but it always has.  My comedy is about my life, and my reaction to my life, and since I’ve always been a woman, and people have always hated women, I’ve always had a politically personal bent to my comedy, like talking about cat-calling or not wanting children.  But, everyone seems to be asking me this question and I was never asked this question when other people were President so it seems like we are really in extraordinary times and I mean extra-ordinary in the bad way,” she wrote.  “So, yes, people coming to the show will for sure get a sense that I live in the same world they do. As Jimmy Kimmel recently described it, ‘It feels like a portal to Hell has been opened.’ I’m in that portal too and so I’m hoping people find my show cathartic and comforting but if they’re looking for a Trump impersonation, they won’t get that from me.  Although I will be wearing a toupee,” she wrote.

Although someone is probably angrily tweeting about Kirkman’s liberal or “feminazi” comedy at this very moment, she’s over the discussion on the acceptability of “rape jokes.”

“I don’t really sit around analyzing comedy. If men wanna talk about rape culture they better have a good fucking reason and they better be preaching on the right side of it. Otherwise, I’m so tired of this debate and it’s the least fun question on earth because whatever my answer will be won’t make someone be like, ‘She’s so funny I have to see her show,’ ” she wrote. “I know you journos want deep conversation but people reading this stuff are like, ‘OMG shut up already.’ I should know. They tweet me when these pieces come out. I’d rather talk about aliens or something.”

However, if you are reading this thinking “She is so funny I have to see her show,” there are still tickets left for Saturday’s show.

“My comedy isn’t interactive unless I need have a question answered during my set. Comedy gets so little respect and people seem angry that you don’t want to talk to them. Folks, it’s like a play. I know the words I’m going to say and I’m excited to say them. I flew here to say them. If you interrupt me, you’re basically an asshole who wants more from a performer than the performance. Not cool. And it ruins the fun for the audience. They didn’t pay to see Jerry in the third row yell shit out.”

Don’t be Jerry.