Jen Kirkman's standup stays fun, personal, and neurotic
At the Comedy MIX on Friday, June 13
It seems every comedian working today either doesn’t want kids or hates the ones they have. Once the childless Doug Stanhope and childful Louis C.K. came up with brilliant takes on the subject of offspring, it became the subject du jour—and has continued for the past seven or eight years now. But I blame Facebook. It’s only natural to develop a healthy hostility to munchkins when every parent out there is shoving theirs up against your FB wall.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; it’s just a thing. Like anything in comedy, it’s either done well or it isn’t. And Jen Kirkman does it well. For every argument someone throws at her in favour of giving birth, Kirkman has a well-reasoned response. Who’ll look after her when she’s old? Servants, of course. She’ll pay for them with all the money she saves on not having kids.
She’s recently divorced, and you sense it comes from a real place. While she’s antimarriage, too, she’s not ridiculing the institution and making all us married-with-children folk feel stupid. Well, maybe a bit, but she’s got such a refreshing delivery it makes it all okay. She’s smart, she’s a bit harried, she’s breezy, and she’s having fun. It works.
Kirkman, author of I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids, had other material, too. She came out riffing about her customs experience and getting off on the wrong foot with hotel staff, and instead of simply one-sidedly pummelling airport bureaucracy or bellhops, gave perspective by showing us she did herself no favours with her exhausted attitude. She had us with her from the start, showing a vulnerability that allowed her then to go on the attack against dumb people, offering up a final solution for the dim. And while doing so, she managed to make fun of her own stupidity.
On other topics, she took a unique route to arriving at common positions. The usual comedic take on the old slippery-slope argument that if gays can marry, next it’ll be people and their pets is to attack that ridiculous reasoning with a just-as-absurd analogy. But Kirkman goes with it. “I’m also all right with that,” she says of pet marriage, and then talks about how awesome a ceremony it would be with a woman and her cat. Same end result—gay marriage is great—but a completely new way of arriving at it.
The 39-year-old related some pros and cons about being a cougar, based on her fling with a 20-year-old two years ago. (Pro: the sex, natch. Con: “He was in utero when In Utero came out.”) She also talked about the near-impossible masturbation scenarios needed to play out in her mind before she can get it on with the likes of an imaginary Johnny Depp; she says she has to meet the hunky thespian and connect with him on a deeper level before the fantasy can take hold, comparing it to guys just needing to conjure up a pair of boobs before shifting gears.
I haven’t listened to I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman Podcast yet, but if it’s even half as fun, personal, and neurotic as her standup act, it’s gotta be worth checking out.