Chelsea Lately alum and comedian Jen Kirkman dishes on her headlining debut at Wilbur Theatre, her new Netflix comedy special, and why she's already experiencing Trump fatigue.
After nailing her latest Netflix comedy special, Chelsea Lately alum and comedian Jen Kirkman is taking her act on the road with a stop in her hometown of Boston. We caught up with the comic to chat about headlining the Wilbur Theatre for the first time, why she's already experiencing Trump fatigue, and what she has her eyes set on next.
How does it feel to be back in Boston and headlining the Wilbur Theatre this September? JEN KIRKMAN: I will say that it’s exciting to be doing the Wilbur because I have only done it in shows where there are other comics. I’ve never actually headlined there on my own. So, that’s really exciting, but it’s always a challenge because my entire family lives there. All my friends, from every walk of life live there, and I just don’t have time to see anybody!
I am literally only there for 12 hours. So, you’ll have to see me on stage, and I can’t really go out after. It’s not a high school reunion. I have to be up at 6 a.m. the next day. So, it’s always challenging, because I think people want to see you, but all I can give them is the show. But yeah, I’m really excited to go back and perform for all those people. I think it’s going to be great.
After seeing your latest Netflix special, Just Keep Livin', I was surprised at how much more personal your comedy came off compared to the way we saw it on Chelsea Lately when you had to discuss celebrities. JK: I’ve always been this really personal, kind of out there, dark, political comic my whole life. And I had been doing comedy about 13 years before I got hired on Chelsea’s show. I was like, “I don’t want to write on a celebrity show.” And then, when I got there, and I realized that nobody there cares. Nobody. It was just what the show was. We were like, “Oh, okay.” If I really worked with people that were like, “Oh, my God! I love Lindsay Lohan’s new outfit,” I think my soul would have died. We would always try to subtly bring our point of view out, so that it worked out really well because I have a big audience thanks to that show.
So, when they come see me now, like you said, people see me through a new lens, but they’re not totally shocked, or saying, “What? I can’t believe she cares about this!” But for now, the only thing that’s off limits to me is stuff that I don’t know how to do that well. Like, I’m not really a political comic. I might talk about how I feel about the presidency, but it’s through a lens of like, “This is what I did the night of the election, and how disappointed I was, and how I handled the disappointment.”
I was thinking about this the other day and asking myself, “Is it just too easy to do that type of humor now, and tell Trump jokes all the time?” JK: It’s really easy, but at the same time it’s exhausting too. Also, one thing we had to worry about, with the TV show, was every person on Twitter, people who aren’t comedians—it’s not like people who aren’t comedians can’t be funny—just everyday people, who tweet jokes about what’s going on. So, you have to be really careful that you’re not saying the same thing everyone else has already said 50 times.
So, I keep going back to the idea that if I make it personal, then it’s going to definitely be different than everyone else because there’s only one me. You can sort of talk about anything as long as you make it personal. But yeah, it does get too easy to make the same jokes. We get it. He’s orange. Okay, move on.
Is there anything that you don’t have right now, that you want to sort of go out and get? Is there anything that you still have your eye set on? JK: Oh, my God! Yeah! I mean, a lot. Bigger audiences, so I can hire the staff I need to tour with, and have that reassurance that I have some security over the next few years. I mean, it’s still a grind. I’m still not so well known that it’s not like, “Uh, oh. I hope they come back next year!”
I’d love to be in a movie, like an Indie movie, that isn’t just like a ha-ha-ha comedy. I’d love to have a show based on my life, and would love to have a talk show. Every year, I pitch those, and get close, but it doesn’t happen. Yeah, I want to do everything. But mainly, standup is my thing. If I couldn’t do anything but one thing, it would be standup. I just want to keep doing it, but for larger and larger audiences.