kirk0103redo(2)_LOWRES_RETOUCHEDSo stop asking. She even wrote a book that’s partially about that.

And it’s ok. Even better, that just means that she has more time to be funny for us.

When I told my wife I was going to be talking to Jen Kirkman she (as she does) needed a point of reference for who I was talking about. That part was easy, Jen’s repeat appearances on “Drunk History” are among the best the show has to offer. A quick scan of some of her earlier work revealed that Kirkman was part of stuff that I was into from much, much further back than that. She voices Nurse Kirkman and Cynthia in Home Movies in the early 2000s (of which I own the whole series) and was also featured prominently in Acceptable TV, Dan Harmon’s Channel 101 inspired show on VH1.

She’s been a part of comedy that I was into for the last 15 years at least, so why did it take until 2009 for her to be named one of the Rising Stars of Comedy by Entertainment Weekly?

Search me.

Jen is coming to town next week for 5 shows at Montreal’s Mainline Theater for her show “Irrational Thoughts” as part of Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival. She promises a mix of new and old material, some of which will be brand new for the Montreal audience.

We had a few minutes to talk about the show, not having kids, post-election depression and the heatwave that is currently melting Montreal:

Keith: Hey Jen, how are you doing? Hope you’re ready to come to the heat and humidity of Montreal.

Jen: I’m in New York right now, so I’m in it with you, I’m trying to figure out what to wear to my shows and it’s a mess.

There’s a few long sleeve shirts I want to wear and I just don’t think it’s going to work out.

K: The title of this show is “Irrational Thoughts: Stories from My Brain”, is this more of a storytelling show? Or can we expect traditional stand-up?

J: No, it’s really a comedy show. I just thought ‘Jokes from My Brain’ would sound like I was doing a series of one liners. It’s actually a combination of a few different things, I had this show last year that I called a one woman show, but it wasn’t one long boring story, it was just funny stories. But it was a one woman show in the sense that it was longer, had no opening act and I just came out stage and started talking. It wasn’t very jokey/holding a microphone. Some of those stories made it into “Irrational Thoughts”, some of the material is from the network special, and some of it is brand new.

I just put it all together into this theme of “Irrational Thoughts.”

I feel like at a festival it should be a little special. I put this show together just for Montreal. When people see ‘Stories from My Brain’ I want them to realize that this might be very conversational. I’m trying to market myself as a little different.

I do have some new stuff. I’m taking them (the audience) down a rabbit hole of an irrational thought I had. Like, I went to go see a healer and a shaman trying to deal with a depression I was feeling after the election. The stories are funny and crazy. There’s definitely new stuff coming in this show.

K: That’s pretty relatable too, even up in Canada we’re kind of still coping with a mass depression post-election. The Montreal audience will have sympathy pains for you.

J: Of course, it effects you guys too. If we get nuked, you’ll feel the effects and he’s ruining the world so, perfect.

K: Exactly, if you get a new neighbour across the hall and he’s the worst, it has an impact. Maybe not as much as if he moved directly into your apartment, but it’s still hard to deal with.

J: One time when I was still kind of broke and living in a little studio apartment in Hollywood years and years ago I opened my refrigerator and it was infested with cockroaches. I was like ‘what the hell is going on?’. I never kept food in my place and I have a fear of bugs. It was because my neighbour was a hoarder and the cockroaches came in through the wall.

So it’s like that. You might open your fridge and have cockroaches in it because Trump is President.

K: A similar thing happened to me! The ceiling in my bathroom collapsed and gross water got everywhere because the neighbours upstairs had a clogged bath tub and it was full of gross still water. If America gets nuked, Canada gets gross bathtub water all over the place.

J: Exactly.kirk0504Fin(1)_RETOUCEHD_HIGHRES

K: You mentioned on the You Made it Weird podcast that you’ve got some French Canadian background. Any chance of you having any French material, or material about French Canada?

J: (laughs) Well, I’m very proud it, since it’s the closest to being French I’m going to get. My grandmother’s last name is Courtemanche (note: probably no relation to Michel) and her mom was from Quebec. We used to call her mom “ma mère” which means “my mother” even though she was my great-grandmother. I thought she was just the coolest woman. I was probably about 5 years old and she was almost 100. My grandmother used to talk French to me all the time and I took French in high school and went to Quebec on a trip in high school. But, I cannot retain anything. I’ve been to Paris a few times, I’ve been to Montreal a ton. I just fail every time at speaking French.

It feels like Montreal is way more aggressive about it than Paris. (Montrealers) will just keep talking French to you. It’s like ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t’ I wish I could! I even downloaded a little French word app so I can try, but it’s hard-core.

In France when I try to talk French it’s like ‘you poor thing, we’ll just talk to you in English’. My accent is terrible. I’m like ‘bon-jour!’ I feel like in Montreal when I talk my terrible French they’re just like ‘get out of my country’.

K: No! Don’t say that! There is that thing that happens where Montrealers have conversations where one person is speaking English and the other is speaking in French and neither one switches over. It’s just a bilingual conversation, stubbornly refusing to transition into the other person’s preferred language.

J: Oh! I love that! That is so cool that people understand both. But I agree with them (the Francophones), I don’t want them to lose their culture. I just feel like a giant idiot not being able to speak the language. So no, I don’t have any French Canadian material.kirk0313redo_HIGHRES_RETOUCHED

K: So your book, “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids” makes an important distinction right in the title. A happy life without kids. My wife and I have been together for 9 years and we decided a long time ago that we’re probably not having kids. Being a working comedian in Hollywood or New York, etc. do you still find there’s pressure to have kids, even when you’ve written a book saying you don’t want them?

J: Oddly it does come up more in Hollywood. That’s the place where I get the most weird looks and pressure about it. It’s my family and friends back home that know ‘oh that makes sense, you never wanted kids.’ I haven’t wanted kids for forever, I never had to make a decision or think about it. There might be pressure, but I don’t feel it. It’s not even on my mind.

But people bring it up all the time. They relate it to my career when it has nothing to do with it. They’re like ‘yeah, when you’re on the road is there anybody in your apartment?’ Well yeah, but I’m not alone. I just don’t have children. There are people in my life!

Now that I look at it, it would be quite inconvenient to have a kid and be out on the road. So I’m glad I made that decision, but it wasn’t really a decision, it just sort of happened. It’s not because of what I do though, I knew I didn’t want kids long before I started touring. It’s very strange, people still talk about it, but I’m getting older. I’m 43 now, so I can just say really crass things like ‘oh, my eggs don’t work any more’.

K: You did write a book where the idea of not having kids is right there in the title…

J: I wish I could just carry a copy with me at all times. It still happens where I’ll say ‘I actually wrote a book about this.’ And then they’ll just question if the book ever even got published. Then it turns into this other weird thing where I’m defending the fact that my book was published.

My new thing is to just try and make them feel uncomfortable. I’ll just say ‘why is this important to you? It doesn’t seem like its any of your business’. It usually just makes them really uncomfortable.

K: The new one is to just say ‘the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to just not have children, do you hate planet Earth enough to have a child?’

J: Oh yeah! They’re literally saying that in like 20 years people will be dying from climate change issues. You’re bringing a kid into a situation where they’ll have to deal with that. I mean, it’s fine. If you really want it (having kids) then it’s fine. Then again, I’m flying in planes all the time and I’m not going to stop.

K: California is going to be completely on fire in a few years.

J: And that’s when I move to Montreal!

She’d better keep working on her French.

Jen Kirkman will be performing “Irrational Thoughts: Stories from My Brain” July 24,25,26,27 and 29 at Mainline Theatre, 3997 St-Laurent. All shows at 7:30 pm. More info and ticketes HERE.

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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