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Jen Kirkman is a hilarious comic/performer who is a triple threat in the comedy world. She’s an author, podcast host and stand up comic. Her Sixth and I show this Sunday is SOLD OUT. I sincerely hope you got tickets. – ed

We talked after your book came out and it’s a nice memory because I was taking care of my grandmother at the time who has since passed away and I said to you “She might come in in the middle of this conversation,” and you said “I hope she does.” And sure enough she burst into the den screaming “I have to go to the bathroom!” You can hear the whole thing but it’s still a very nice memory for me because I loved her very much.

I totally hear you on the grandmother thing. Mine are both dead now but they were the best.

I’ve already watched, maybe a little insanely, your Netflix special three times. It’s called I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine). It’s very good. Are you going to die alone? Or would you prefer to? Do you feel like it’s better to be alone when that happens?

I think I will because we all, well I really don’t know. I guess that’s kind of my point, or joke, is that we really don’t know. Nothing we can do…it seems like people do an awful lot to, for however many years you live whether it’s 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 that’s a long time. It seems like most people I talk to when they question things about me they seem to be really focused on the moment of my death as if they have it all figured out. They have taken these steps to ensure they will have this very comfortable death with people surrounding them. And you can have a marriage or family and you will still die alone. I have no idea. I’m not comfortable with the idea of death at all but I have gotten comfortable with the idea of there’s nothing I can do to predict how it’s going to go so I better be fine with that. I don’t think I do think it’s better to be alone because, God I know what it’s like when I’m throwing up by myself…when I have a head cold I’m like “Everyone go away,” but when I’m throwing up like once every 2 years I’ll get this weird 24 hour flu and it’s terrifying. I don’t even know who I want to be there. It’s not a specific type of figure in my life like a man or a mother, just anybody. Can someone witness this. It brings out this primal feeling. I don’t mind if it’s alone in terms of there’s just a nurse there or something, but completely alone I hope I can avoid it.

It’s weird that people are more afraid of the alone part than the death part because death is way more permanent than being alone.

I’m only afraid of the alone part because I think it might seem scary and kind of weird. I feel like when people react to the title of my special they think that if someone is alone in the last moments of their life that they were a lonely person. That’s what I don’t understand. It might happen that you had this really rich, full life but something might get you when you were by yourself. It’s strange to me that even if I did die alone I don’t think I’d feel lonely. I’d just need someone there to calm me down a bit so I can have a peaceful death. I think there is a difference between alone and lonely.

The two jokes I laughed at the hardest and I keep laughing at every time I watch your special is the joke about a woman marrying her cat in terms of gay marriage being legalized and how delightful that wedding would actually be. The other is, which is slightly more upsetting because it’s something I’ve totally done, is the joke about the drunk girlfriend showing up at a party and screaming at her boyfriend “Are you fucking her?” Do you think that, and this is more for the 2nd joke I just wanted to tell you how much I would like to marry my cat; do you think…growing up is hard and being an adult is hard but in terms of comedy is it hard if your jokes don’t necessarily reflect your age in terms of where the world thinks you should be. Is it difficult to make your jokes match where society thinks you should be as an adult? Should you tweak your jokes to reflect your age?

I don’t tweak anything. I think it’s best to be 100% honest about where you are. I think people will watch it in this sort of voyeuristic way like ah it’s interesting or I don’t do this anymore. Most of my fans are people who relate to what I’m saying because they don’t feel like they’re doing what they should be at their age and I think that’s probably what the job of a comedian is to be the idiot or the mirror so people can laugh at you. They may laugh at the moment then leave and say “Oh that’s so sad they should get their life together.” Then again if something just can’t be made funny, if it’s too sad…I think you or me  would know what to skip over. It would be too much effort for me to tweak jokes.

True, I’m not very good at the false premise.

Yeah me too…I’m the same way.

In your special you also mention plucking your first gray pubic hair. I’m going to run on the assumption this is true. Would you be able to rate from least painful to most painful body hair plucking? I assume least painful is eyebrow hair and nose hair is most painful. I put pubic hair in the middle.

Yes, this actually happened. I did pluck that pubic hair. Embarrassingly enough the lady who waxes my area came to one of my shows once in LA and I didn’t know she was in the audience and the next time I saw her she was like “You don’t have any gray pubic hair. I saw your set.” I was laughing because I plucked them. They haven’t come back which is weird. I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t their time. It was like a warning shot. But nose hair is very painful. I embarrassingly saw one coming out of my nose once when I was driving and looking in the rear view mirror and I was like “How long has that been there and  has anyone seen it?” This was a few months ago. I was horrified. I had tweezers in my purse so I just yanked it right out I thought I was going to have an aneurysm. It was so painful.

It’s the worst pain in the world.

This is so gross but I just bought a pink little, I wish I knew their brand name I could be their spokesperson, a pink little thing. It looks like a large pen and it’s a ladies’ nose hair trimmer and you just stick it in your nose and it makes this little noise. It sounds like a little lawnmower and it’s great. I think it’s an age thing, everything starts growing.

I’m also really enjoying your podcast, I SEEM FUN; The Diary of Jen Kirkman Podcast, and it’s interesting because I have not heard a lot of podcasts where it’s just a person talking to themselves. How do you prepare for a podcast that’s just basically you chatting with you?

I don’t really prepare at all. I either make notes in my iPhone or write something down in a notebook. The most research I did recently was I’ve been really fascinated with the real stories of what Hugh Heffner’s like and has been like with his girlfriends in the Playboy Mansion and I read a lot of articles and I cut and pasted some information and it’s in a document in my computer. I have yet to record that episode. It seems to, when I prepare by the time I get to recording it I don’t feel like doing what I’ve prepared. It’s usually just as simple as I just talk about what happened to me that week. It would be like if you called someone you haven’t talked to in a week and babbled for like an hour. I don’t really prepare I just have to make notes to remind myself because once I start talking whether it’s on stage or on the podcast I kind of go into a weird zone maybe like sort of a Zen state and I tend to be so in the moment that I forget what I wanted to talk about. I have to write it down or I’ll forget. I’ll even forget to advertise my own T-shirts. A lot of times things I write down as I’m looking at them I’ll think “That’s not interesting,” and I’ll end up never saying it.


It’s great because you go off on tangents while you’re talking and as a listener you kind of forget that you’re not there. There was one episode where you didn’t know what D.A.R.E. was and i was like “That’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education.” They tried to make that work for us. A lot of kids my age still have their D.A.R.E. T-shirts so it’s been permanently burned into our brains.

I think most people were screaming into their computer WE KNOW WHAT THAT IS but I was just slowly Googling.

In that medium what’s great about being by yourself, the fact that you can just record anywhere?

The best part is that I can do it anywhere and I usually try to maintain the integrity of the original idea that it’s in my bedroom. That’s what I like about it. I don’t have to run it by anybody. It’s truly the last freedom I have without having to get notes from anyone or even feedback from an audience which probably sounds obnoxious. Obviously I love feedback from audiences while doing stand up but this is the one thing where it’s like “I don’t even care.” It’s a weird alternate universe I get to go into for an hour or two a week. There’s no structure and it’s total freedom, more anarchy than freedom.

Speaking of podcasts, I’m a huge fan of the Mental Illness Happy Hour, Paul Gilmartin’s podcast. I think it’s beautiful and is a wonderful tool for people to have. Mental health in this country is a dismal affair and if you don’t have access to it it’s a nice thing to listen to. You were on it a few years ago so you probably don’t remember much of what you said but you guys did a thing he does called a Fear Off. You go back and forth with your own fears. I made a note about a few of your fears so I was wondering if 4 years later any of these fears are still real for you.

It’s funny because I don’t really remember too much and I know that during it I was conjuring up fears I had but maybe don’t necessarily have anymore. When we did this episode I was 3 days into a separation from my husband with a really icky lawsuit. I wasn’t even allowed to say I was separated on any airwaves. I was holding in this giant thing the entire time. Yeah I’d love to know what I said.

One was that you were afraid you were going to end up homeless, schizophrenic and babbling which is a fear I have too…that I’ll never find a therapist and I’ll just keep going more insane.

For some reason I don’t fear the babbling on the street anymore. I do always worry I’m going to end up without a job and without work. I think I do fear that but not really fear it. I just go “That’s an option,” but no this is not a fear anymore.

You also were afraid you were going to lose gravity, fly off into space and be trapped there forever.

That fear is probably the most creative sounding but probably the most realistic in that, that kind of feeling the way I described it there is connected to a real psychological issue that is the little nugget I’ll probably chip away at for the rest of my life. It’s that feeling of invisibility and I don’t mean in the sense that “That’s why I do comedy to get attention.” I mean it like “Does anybody really know me,” or “Who am I,” like that kind of existential question. Or like I have no control over anything. That is wrapped up into everything. That feeling comes specifically from when I would have panic attacks. That’s where my mind would go. I would physically be panicking and the last thing before the end is “What if I just fly away and can’t get down?” That is so real I don’t literally fear it but that’s the nugget of existential crisis within me. I’m sure it’s pretty common.

The last one is you’re afraid cockroaches will overrun your place which I can empathize with. For me it’s crickets. They’re very unpredictable and they’ll come for you. They don’t care.

It’s funny you said that because I found out, the place I used to live where I was afraid that happened, I had city crickets in my place. They looked like those giant cockroaches. They just don’t give a fuck. They just sit in your sink like “Hey what’s up.” There is nothing you can do. I guess I’m not really afraid because there is nothing in my new place like that.

Do you feel like everyone should be in therapy? When I meet a person who is against therapy I’m always like “Why are you better than being better?”

I know people who think it’s indulgent. I’m paying someone to tell me what’s wrong with me. That’s the least narcissistic you can do. Secondly someone says they know what their issues are. Well yeah, we all do but then we didn’t get the coping skills so you’re just learning tools so you can be a better person in the world. No one is going there because they don’t know what their issues are. Everyone is going because they’re like “I don’t react well when ______ happens and _______ is going to keep happening and I want to learn to be a better partner, coworker, friend, lover.” It’s just some people need to learn better tools. I feel like people think it means you’re crazy but every single person I know could use some betterment in terms of the way they communicate. My friend Todd Glass always says some people need to go every week because they are really suffering and some people just need tuneups.