Comedian Jen Kirkman has written for Chelsea Lately, appeared on Drunk History, and made the New York Times Best Seller list. Her latest Netflix special, Just Keep Livin?, has been available streaming since earlier this year. She stops at The Trocadero on Saturday as part of her “All New Material, Girl” tour. Philly comedian Alejandro Morales opens. We spoke by phone recently to chat about her process and interests.
What’s exciting about this tour for you?
What’s exciting is that there’s not a lot attached to it except just doing stand-up. It’s not a book tour where I’m selling books. I don’t have to worry about anything else. It’s new stuff, new to me, fun for me to do, I’m totally re-energized. It’s actually fun.
Q: How would you describe the process of making a Netflix special?
I’ve done both of mine with Lance Bangs. It’s very seamless. He’s the most calm person ever. He doesn’t get all hysterical the day of the show. It’s like I’ve got my thing to do, and he’s got his. I have no idea anything. In a good way. Some people might want to have a camera on stage for a
certain angle. I don’t. There’s little things to think about, like colors you can’t wear. This time I was like “Guys, I don’t want at the last minute for the set to be designed and then find out I can’t wear certain colors.” Let’s start from there: I want to wear pink, and then we design the set and I approve it. I get to approve a gold stool. After the taping, the editing starts. Lance does a first pass at editing. It’s pretty much done then. I have to watch that first pass which I hate, and I usually tape two shows. “I think I remember telling the joke from the first show better.” There’s little editing things like that, and that’s it. Then there’s meeting with Netflix about what the advertising looks like. There’s a lot of meetings and then the actual making of the special. Thank God I don’t have to do much other than show up and perform.
Do you keep with other comedians’ Netflix specials or do you sequester yourself?
If I’m a big fan or a good friend, of course I’m gonna watch it. Some people fall into both categories. As far as every comedian, no, I don’t watch their stuff. I’m not a comedy nerd. I like who I like and I watch their stuff. Most comedy I watch is not my peers or someone who came after me. I watch it to be entertained or inspired, but it’s usually people who are older or people who’ve been doing it longer. I can’t explain why. It’s not a judgment. I just go to the oldtimers.
In terms of your creative process, what tools do you use?
One big thing I’ve noticed that’s different than last year was knowing when to stop, just take a minute. After I did my special, which taped in October of last year, I was having vocal issues and took a while off touring. It sort of matched with my emotional state. I was so tired of thinking about things, comedy in terms of my job, that I didn’t do any stand-up after the election. I meant to not do stand-up and just relax. But I wasn’t going to think about what I was going to say until January. I do such personal comedy that you can become a caricature of yourself. It’s a huge part of my process now, knowing when to shut up. I took a little time off. I took a year off the road! That’s different. The tools are that: my voice and people coming to see me. I have to organically feel excited. My second one is: don’t push it, or you’re going to hate this. I guess if you want to get real literal, my iPhone is a huge tool for me. I start in the Notes section where I write words that don’t make any sense to me, then I record voice memos. I don’t listen to them. They’re there in case I need them.
What are three things you’re geeking out about right now?
It’s always the same for me: my Instagram account where I stopped following everyone I know except fashion & furniture designers. I wake up and scroll. I have just a beautiful archive of things I like. I’m just constantly updating little things around my apartment. I’m always trying to copy some picture I saw of something, always home decoration. I’m geeking out about the Trump-Russia investigation! I feel like I could take over the case. I know intelligence terminology, following people you’re not supposed to follow on Twitter. That 24 hours a day. And a game called Design Home, made by MGTV. It’s an app where you design homes, enter, and people vote on homes. I get angry at how people suck at designing
things. Like they’ll put a teddy bear on a coffee table for no reason. When my score is low I get so upset.