Jen Kirkman is a nationally touring stand-up comedian Her previous comedy special I’M GOING TO DIE ALONE (AND I FEEL FINE) was lauded as one of the Top 10 comedy specials of 2015 by Time Out, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. She has also found success with her comedic essay collections “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself” and “I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself; (Dispatches From a Life Under Construction).”  We spoke with Kirkman about her newest special, JUST KEEP LIVING?.

ComicsVerse: In such politically charged times, do you see the role of comedians and/or comedy clubs changing?

Jen Kirkman: I haven’t been out as much because of it – the timing was interesting for me. I taped a special and got off of a year of touring on and off, so I took some time off from stand-up and then we elected a fascist and I haven’t been able to access the funny inside of me in a stand-up way.  So…I haven’t been out much. I’m not too sure. I did a show of new material the other night and it seems like people just want to be out and GET SOME RELIEF.

CV: Do you see your material changing as a result of the current political climate? What effects has it had on you as an artist?

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JK: I worried originally that being a comedian was providing too much distraction for people who would choose to just laugh their life away during Drumpf but he’s been so OUT OF CONTROL that most people are super politically active and aware and really do need relief. Hopefully I can start to provide some relief soon – once I get out from under my bed.

Photo by Sunny Martini, for Seattle Music News.

CV: What was the creative process like for writing your special?

JK: Action, action, action. Getting out there and getting the material up on its feet. As I toured in 2015 I started to develop the material that became the special I taped in 2016. Once I knew in the summer of 2016 what the special would be – I ran that over and over in all different climates from comedy clubs in Vermont to Arizona to New York to Portland, just back and forth across America, making sure that I wasn’t just catering to my fans who get me – but can I make a drunk guy at the late show at a comedy club laugh at me talking about street harassment? It turns out that I can. He will also catcall me from the crowd – but he’ll laugh first.

CV: What jokes in the special were ones that you were most proud of? Was there anything in it that you got to try out for the first time?

 JK: Nothing in the special was a first time thing – I wouldn’t risk that but the traveling to Italy story was fairly new since I had only gone a few months earlier. My favorite story I think is the story about me not knowing when I was a teenager that you can’t get pregnant from anything except traditional sex…that bit just goes so many places and ultimately shows how my mind still works – which is “But what if? What if?” Until I’ve scared myself into something totally impossible.

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CV: What was the biggest challenge of putting this special together and how did you approach it?

JK: The biggest challenge is really making sure that it’s ready and, for me, I wanted it to be different than my last special. I had a few jokes that I do on tour but I cut because it was too similar to “I’m Gonna Die Alone” – it was a bit about overprotective parenting. It’s hard to cut things that get laughs.  It’s hard to decide when a bit is done and cooked. The biggest challenge actually comes after the special is taped – material has a life of it’s own and I thought of a few really great new beats and punchlines and jokes to some of my bits from JKL and I want to personally call everyone that watched my Netflix special and say, “You know that bit about my tattoo? I just thought of a new and awesome ending.” But Netflix won’t give me the phone numbers of all of their subscribers.

You can find Jen Kirman’s new comedy special streaming on Netflix and her books at Amazon and wherever books are sold. Follow her @JenKirkman on all social media platforms. 

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