Comedy in The Lou

Jen Kirkman On ‘Under Pressure,’ The Art of the Playlist and Putting “I’m Going to Die Alone” To Rest

Somehow we managed to steal a few minutes of Jen Kirkman‘s time to chat about her upcoming show in St. Louis, the difference between the club and alt scene and just how important that pre-show playlist is. She’s making her stop in St. Louis on Sunday, July 12 at The Firebird and even though her tour is named after her latest special, that’s definitely not what you’re going to see…

Jen Kirkman_Robyn Von Swank_sm1Kelsey McClure:
My first question is about your live show specifically; it has the same title as your special. So for the people who are coming out to see you, how much of it is going to be material from “I’m Gonna to Die Alone” and how much are you going to use the new tour to work on new material?

Jen Kirkman: Thank you for asking that because I’m an idiot to name my tour the same thing as the Netflix special. I don’t know why I did it. I was thinking of it as a tour to support my Netflix special but Netflix doesn’t need my support, they have plenty of advertisement help. It’s not the special at all. That special has been put to rest.

Do you find it weird that a comedian has to have videos or a special online but then nobody wants to see a live show that’s a repeat of your special? Whereas with music if you didn’t play the hits everyone would leave disappointed. 

This is why I always argue with my musician friends. I’m like, “You guys have it easier. I know you have more gear to schlep around, but it’s easier.” They’re like, “No, it isn’t.”

I totally wish I could just play ‘Freebird’ and everyone would be happy, but they’re not going to be. I think, too, with this tour, why I chose to do rock clubs and small theaters is because I think the real die-hard comedy fans will be there and they will find new things. A lot of my new stuff has more of a story thing… It’s a lot of going off on tangents. It’s funny, but it may not be a rhythm that comedy-club goers are used to. I thought it would be good to do new stuff in a venue that’s, “Hey. This is more of a story time, but it’s less “ha ha ha”. It’s funny, but it’s not the same rhythm as a comedy club where if you don’t have them every second, they’re going to get up and get a drink or something.

I got really excited when I saw you’d Instagramed a shot of David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure.” I thought, “Yeah! That’s my Woman!” How do you decide…

Oh my God!

It’s such a good song, one of my all time favorites.

It’s so good. It’s life affirming. It’s the greatest song ever.

When you’re making your pre-show playlist is it what songs you’re feeling that week or do you have specific songs that get you pumped up?

I have a list of songs that I think the audience will enjoy, that say something about what kind of mood I’m trying to hit. The day of, if I’m feeling something, I’ll add a song or two into it. It’s almost an evolving playlist, but I like to also get people in a mindset. At comedy clubs, they’ll play something that’s for like a monster truck rally and my music taste is more… you might hear some Johnny Cash or a David Bowie-Queen song or a French pop song or something like that.

I just want it to be eclectic and different and have people go, “Oh my God! I haven’t heard this song in so long!” It’s just supposed to set a certain mood.

Most of the time nobody is even noticing, but it’s my greatest joy to make playlists.

Agreed, it’s one of mine too.

When I was backstage listening to my playlists, “Under Pressure” came on… I make the playlists so long that there’s no order. It’s on shuffle. I was so happy that that came on. It got me all excited and I was like, “This is the most beautiful song!” It just gets me. The lyrics are amazing.

Who do you think called who? Do you think David called Freddie or Freddie called David and was like, “I’ve got this idea for a song. What do you think?”

Based on what Morrissey has said about David Bowie, which is that he’s a narcissistic person, I’m guessing Freddie called David. I wonder if it would even dawn on David to collaborate with anyone until Freddie Mercury offered. And then I wonder if it’s even that they were already hanging out and everyone was high and drunk and they made the decision then. I feel like Freddie thought it up. I don’t know why, but that’s what I think. Part of me can see David being the collaborator but I might be wrong. I mean he did do that song with Mic Jagger, Dancing in the Streets but I really can’t say.

You mentioned earlier that comedy clubs play the kind of music that’s like, “Everybody get up and get excited!” Then they say, “Okay. Now sit down and listen. Nobody talk.” How do you channel in and find a medium between keeping the crowd invested and entertained without making it all about them?

It’s hard. I actually, to be honest, with the amount of shows I’ve been doing in different venues sometimes because it’s not built for comedy, the laughs aren’t there so I can’t hear them because of the acoustics. Or people are listening but they’re not dying laughing because they’re not those types of people. Maybe they’re more comedy nerds who are used to it so they’re thinking, “That’s funny,” but they’re not like, “Ha ha ha!”

Sometimes for me, the audience is giving me the energy and the cheers. If they’re laughing really hard, then it’s easy for me. I fly around and it makes me want to try new stuff and it energizes me, but to keep them energetic, it’s almost impossible. It’s either they’re going to be or they’re not. And if they are, I ride their wave and we keep giving back and forth, but if I find the crowd is not that energized, I just do my best and I assume that they’re having fun but they’re just not very vocal.

You just have to knock it in your head. I had this experience the other week where I thought people weren’t really laughing and I was like, “Well, that sucked.” I was too shy to come out after because usually I say “hi” to people and take pictures and there was this huge line of people waiting. “You’re my spirit animal! That was amazing!”

I was like, “I didn’t hear any laughs” but I think sometimes that’s how it goes. People are listening and I’m very hard on myself. I personally have to stay out of my head and not ever get upset from, “Why aren’t you guys laughing?” I know I’m making it sound like nobody is laughing something but that’s not true. I think really, it’s totally out of my control. If the crowd is hot then that heats me up.

I don’t even know of a comedian who can get a crowd all whipped up. It’s not my forte. I can make them laugh really hard, but then they’re quiet again waiting for the next thing. It’s some unspoken energy that happens between a performer and an audience because I don’t have a bag of tricks… I’m not Freddie Mercury when he comes out.

Jen Kirkman LIVE! at The Firebird on Sunday, July 12



Would Sally Brooks Give Up Pizza For Fame?

sally-brooksAbout two weeks ago Sally Brooks recorded an album. She then made her way to the Limestone Comedy Festival and is now back on the road and headed to ‘ol St. Lou. Lucky for us we were able to borrow a few minutes of her time to ask a couple of questions and preview her shows at The Valley Park Funny Bone this weekend.

Kelsey McClure: Are there any foods you refuse to buy generic?

Sally Brooks: Ketchup. Heinz or bust.

Are there any words you constantly forget the spelling of?

Every time I write tomorrow I have to say to myself tom or row.

What was the last song you karaoked?

I did a pretty disastrous version of “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul and M.C. Skat Cat at the Limestone Comedy Festival.

Do you watch Game of Thrones (the purpose of this question is so that I can tag “Game of Thrones” in SEO to increase views)?

Yes! Not only do I watch, but I read all the books and I listen to a Game of Thrones podcast. I also like to pretend that the dragon I have tattooed on my back is because of the books, not because I was a dumb 19 year old.

You just recorded an album (high five!) can we pick up a copy while you’re in town?

It won’t be out until the fall, but definitely be on the lookout. It’ll be called “I’m Your Future”.

This was your first album correct?


How did the decision come about to do a double header with Mike?

We’re best buds and thought it would be fun to do it together. And it was! Strength in numbers!

Would you give up pizza for fame and fortune?


Sally Brooks LIVE! at The Valley Park Funny Bone. Thursday, June 18 thru Sunday, June 21.

Kyle Dunnigan Talks Dancing With The Stars, Caitlyn Jenner and Plays A Round of “Who’d Win In A Fight?”


There was a whole mess of questions Comedy in the Lou wanted to ask Kyle Dunnigan. His podcast, Professor Blastoff with co-hosts Tig Notaro and David Huntsberger is a top five in our book. His character “Craig” on Reno 911 has induced many a spit-out-your-drink moments and he’s one of the writers behind Inside Amy Schumer, which has more often than not produced similar results.

Kyle’s already wrapped the Eastern leg of his tour and is off to the Midwest to bring his jokes to the stage yet again. He celebrates a principle we hold near and dear to our hearts, “No weird, no fun” so the questions were prepared with great care and as fate would have it, we wound up just asking him about his day…

“It’s going good, I’ve got a lot of little busy work to do. I’m recording a lot of stuff, I have a little studio in my apartment. I do a lot of freelance work to be honest with you.”

 Kelsey McClure: Oh really? Writing wise or…

 Kyle Dunnigan: Yeah, I write. I write for ads for companies. I’ll write some ads and send in pictures. I write for… Like right now I was recording some stuff for Howard Stern, doing that. Caitlyn Jenner actually.

Oh really? That’s a pretty hot topic right now.

Yes. It’s a tough thing. You can’t be mean, so you have to dance around a lot of stuff.

Do you think people are more inclined to be mean because it’s the easy joke?

It’s easier, yeah. It’s definitely easier. But, hey, I like a challenge, so that’s that.

Are there any topics that you like to stray away from, or things you don’t like to approach? For that reason of it being mean, or it being, “well maybe people aren’t ready for this?”

Yeah. If I don’t think it will be funny, I really go by that. If it’s funny to people then it’s probably okay, but if it’s really offensive people won’t like it. It won’t make them laugh. I tend to go by that barometer.

When you’re thinking of “people,” which demographic are you thinking of? The average media consumer or say, your Twitter followers?

I kind of go with more like the majority. A lot of times there is like, one victim. I do Perez Hilton on Stern’s show. He’s a victim in that, but it’s just one victim.

He’s his own scapegoat, I suppose though.

Yeah. A lot of stand up is self-deprecating, I don’t really go after anybody. I don’t touch 9/11 or like that. Not because I think it can’t be touched, I just haven’t come up with the right joke yet that wouldn’t upset people.

Are you still trying to write a 9/11 a joke?

No. It did sound like that. Yeah, try to crack a nut over here!

Do you think a lot of people are going to recycle their old George Bush jokes for Jeb Bush?

Oh, for sure. Is he going win? I don’t even watch that…

I don’t know. The first I actually read about it was in the paper yesterday. I knew he was raising money but he officially said yeah, I’m vying for the Republican seat. I don’t know much about his politics but I still think I know enough. Just having a president named Jeb seems like a step back.

Yeah. It seems like he’s not going to wear shoes or whatnot.

Or at least boat shoes at all times.

I think Hillary’s going to win out on a cliff edge to fix that. I like her. I like someone that’s smarter than me, that just makes me feel better. I feel like the president has a lot of power, obviously, but they don’t have that much power. There are checks and balances and stuff. No one can blow up this country, not like one person.

Who do you think owns more shorts, Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush?

Oh my god, the shorts question. I’m going to go with Hillary, and that’s just from my gut. You know what though, Jeb is down south. No, I’m going with Jeb.

Final answer?

Final answer, Jeb Bush for shorts.

If you were asked to be on Dancing With The Stars would you do it?

I probably would. I guess I would.

Who would you hope to dance with?

I don’t even know. What are my choices?

Let’s see, your choices are… we’ll go nineties pop stars. We’ll go Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Shakira.

Let’s just throw out Shakira right now; just toss her away. Not even in the running. We’re down to Christina… is it them back then, or them now? Or their whole career I’m taking into consideration?

I think it’s them now, but I would like to hear your answer for them now or them then.

I think I’m going to go Christina now, Britney back then. Britney rocked with the shaved head and the umbrella scratching the car. Sort of a turn off. Christina, if we’re talking musically, voice, Christina wins hands down.

Who do you think would win in a fight, Britney then or Caitlyn Jenner now?

Oh, Caitlyn Jenner all the way. It would be a blood bath.

You think she’d beat shaved head Britney?

Is Britney in a rage when the fight starts?

Yes, I’m going to say yes.

Does she have the umbrella?

Yes. Caitlyn cut her off in line.

Oh my god, that is not a good idea, but I’ve got to go with Caitlyn. Caitlyn’s thick too and very athletic. I’m going to go with Caitlyn. Even though she’s sixty-five.


Kyle Dunnigan LIVE! at The Firebird on Sunday, June 14.

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Kyle Kinane Will Never Choose Between Pizza or Tacos

Credit: Moses Robinson // Comedy Central

Credit: Moses Robinson // Comedy Central

Kyle Kinane is performing at The Ready Room this Thursday, May 21 en route to Omaha to headline Crom Fest. It’s his fourth bout headlining in St. Louis and lucky for us Kyle offered up some wisdom on the growing alt scene, time travel and the difference between a pen and pencil…

Kelsey McClure: Your 2011 show in St. Louis was to about 25 people, the next to 40 and the most recent sold out. Do you proactively grow your audience or are people just behind on the Kinane curve?

Kyle Kinane: I wouldn’t say I proactively do much of anything in life. All I can control is the quality of what I’m doing and hope people appreciate it for what it is. I’m lucky the crew at The Firebird were willing to take a chance and put on comedy shows for me and other comics working somewhat outside the club circuit in certain markets.

A lot of the growing scenes are coming out of alt rooms as opposed to clubs, can you give any insight as to the pros and cons of not having club restrictions?

At the alt rooms and music venues, chances are you’re getting an audience that knows what they’re coming to see. People looking for a general “good time” don’t wander off the beaten path for entertainment. I’m not totally against clubs though. Some of them are great and treat standup like a relevant form of artistic entertainment. But some of them haven’t been told that the 1980s ended 25 years ago. But maybe the comfort of hearing Yakety Sax works for some crowds. I’m not a businessman. I don’t know what works for different markets. But I know I feel better about my choice of pursuing standup comedy for a living when I’m in front of people willing to at least take a chance on hearing new ideas and not a bachelorette party throwing glitter dicks all over.

Do you set writing goals for yourself?

Not really. I take an idea on stage and see if it has any legs. If it does, then I take it onstage the next night and see if the legs can dance. If it can dance, then I take it onstage the next night and ruin it by adding too many metaphors.

Do you think comedy would benefit from having categories like music? 

I don’t know. I’m not sure dividing comedy up into subdivisions is helpful. Especially for new comics. The focus should be on becoming a good comic in general before worrying about what type of comic you want to be.

Have you ever been bored on stage?

Material gets stale after a while, especially if I don’t have enough new stuff to work on. I wouldn’t say I get bored as much as I get frustrated. Boredom is just laziness.

Pizza or Tacos?

I’ll never choose. They cohabitate so well.

Pen or pencil?

Pen. with arrows and scratch outs and parentheses. Pencil just lets you second guess yourself too much.

Have you prepared a last set? …as in you know you’re going to die and you have one last time on stage; have you thought about what those jokes would be?

May as well do some new stuff. If it bombs, I won’t be around long to worry about it.

If you could go back in time and see any band live and in their prime, who would it be?

I wish I had a cool underground punk rock answer, but it would probably be David Lee Roth era Van Halen.


Kyle Kinane LIVE! at The Ready Room on Thursday, May 21.

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