It was a very exciting moment for Laugh Out London when we found out Jen Kirkman was heading to London to do a run of stand-up shows at the Soho Theatre from Sept 23 to Sept 28
She first came to our attention for her wonderful, charming, enthralling guest appearances on Paul F Tompkins’ podcast the Pod F Tompkast, and we’ve grown to follow her career as she’s appeared on Chelsea Lately and John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show, started her own great podcast ‘I Seem Fun’, and come to internet notoriety thanks to her legendary attempts to explain the lives of famous US figures in ‘Drunk History’.
Here are some words we had with her.
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How are you today Jen?
Oh, I’m just fine. I’m at my job at Chelsea Lately, writing. But I got up way too early today.
You’re playing London soon. Are you looking forward to it?
No. I hate the idea of having my own show six nights in a row in a cool cabaret space in London. DOESN’T THAT SOUND AWFUL? Just kidding. Yes. I can’t wait!!! I am already getting lovely tweets and Facebook posts from people who say that they are coming. I’m so grateful.
Have you been to the UK before, and if so, how did you find it?
I have been to the UK before! I found it wonderful but it didn’t find me very well. Last time I was in London was 2008 and I had a cold on the plane and by the time I landed it had turned into some kind of flu/walking pneumonia. I spent the entire trip in bed and taking antibiotics, coughing up a lung. Thank God that you’re all tea fanatics because I had a great electric kettle in my room.
The Soho Theatre’s been home to great runs from US comics such as Todd Barry, Paul F Tompkins and Neil Hamburger. Have you been given any advice from comics who’ve played there before?
I have performed in London before – on the TV show “The World Stands Up” and in some local rooms. The crowds were great. I keep hearing that London-ers like to “talk back” to the comics when they are on stage and we call that “heckling” in America and we’re not fans of it but it didn’t happen to me. My comedy pals who have done the Soho all have great things to say about it but they said you’ll always have a few words or two as an American comic that mean something completely different in London and I’ll just have to roll with it as it comes.
We’re big fans of your podcast work. How did you get into podcasting?
I love that you love the podcast! I always wanted to do a podcast and it was pretty easy to get into. I have a dear friend who bought me this microphone and told me to download an app called iRig and so that’s how I did it. I turned it on, sat on my bed and started talking. I get some uploading and other tech help from the guys at my record label AST Records.
How does the live Jen Kirkman experience differ from what we know from your podcasts?
Well, the podcast I Seem Fun is just off the top of my head conversational babbling about small thoughts I have or things that happened to me that week. My act is a totally written, constructed, punchline filled proper comedy hour. But of course – it’s all autobiographical and delivered through my over-think-y, point of view so in that it’s ME – it is similar.
You also have a book (I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself) out about the benefits of living life without a child. I think I agree with you there. What inspired you to write it?
I’ve always wanted to write a book (and many books!) and I do some jokes in my act about how terrible a mother I would be and audiences seemed to connect with that. There was an editor at Simon & Schuster who specifically wanted a book on this topic – it was all just good timing and it worked out. But mostly I wanted to write something that people who don’t want kids can read and feel like they’re not alone and hopefully laugh. AND to maybe educate parents out there who say silly things to us child-free people like, “You don’t want kids? That’s selfish! Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?”
The only reason I can think of for having a child is to give it a fun name. Do you have any in mind just in case?
I swear to you – having children is so far from something on my mind that I don’t even have ironic fantasies. I would probably just name my kid…..I can’t even do this answer. Ha.
Are there any sights in London you’re particularly looking forward to seeing? We recommend Greenwich. It’s lovely. It really is.
I already got the tourist-y stuff out of the way the first time. This time I’m looking forward to the shopping. I want to bring back a new coat and purse and some shoes.
You’ve also featured in Drunk History. Are there plans for you to do more? You were very informed.
That was my third Drunk History and so after that one I have retired it. They had to convince me to even do the third one – the hangovers (for me at least) are AWFUL. They take two days off of my life. And I’m starting to get this reputation as a drunk – as though I didn’t drink for a good cause and am just sitting at home blacked out and cameras burst in. 🙂
Jen Kirkman in Drunk History