Comedian, author and actress Jen Kirkman is known for appearing on Chelsea Handler’s talk show Chelsea Lately and for being one of the first comedians to sign up for Drunk History.
In 2013, Kirkman released the New York Times bestselling memoir, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids.
The book hilariously recounts Kirkman’s experience as a childless woman. “I’m lucky my friend Sarah doesn’t want kids either,” Kirkman writes, “and if she ever changes her mind, I’m going push her down a flight of stairs.”
This year, Kirkman is touring in support of her Netflix-exclusive comedy special, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), in which she tackles subjects like turning 40 and finding her first grey pubic hair.
“All non-essential functions are shutting down!” Kirkman quips.
Kirkman comes to Cozmic June 28. Eugene Weekly caught up with the comedian about death, ADHD and Morrissey.
Tell us a little about I’m Gonna Die Alone.
It’s what I’ve been doing on the road for the last couple years. The themes are divorce, sex, death and not having kids.
In I Can Barely Take Care of Myself you write of being afraid of death as a young girl. My daughter is 5. She recently asked my wife and I what happens when we die. How should I have responded?
Interesting! [Laughs] Lots of my friends’ kids talk about death. I think from my friends having kids, I now understand they can ask stuff like that and it wasn’t like when I was asking that — freaked out. I might make something up that’s positive. Or I might be honest. I think I might say it’s like before birth. As a girl, heaven sounded terrifying to me.
In your 2011 concert album Hail to the Freaks, some of your material is about being a fan of British pop singer Morrissey. You mention how your mother compared his singing voice to Kermit the Frog. I’m also a big fan of Morrissey, and my mom said the same thing. What about Morrissey do you relate to?
Now my mom loves him! When I’m asked who my comedy influences are, I never say Morrissey. I don’t know why. He just speaks to me. I found him funny. I love his nonconformity and his outspokenness about animal rights. I just love him. He’s my Oscar Wilde.
Also in Hail to the Freaks, and In I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself, you write about being diagnosed with ADHD. Tell us a little more about your experience?
As an adult I realized I was stressed and anxious. I took the [ADHD] test and it was off the charts. I took medication but it freaked the rest of my body out.
What effect does ADHD have on your comedy writing?
My brain can go a mile a minute. I don’t write. I try these things out standing on stage. It’s a very specific hell to write something. [Laughs]
Tell us a little about what an audience can expect at the Eugene show?
What they can look forward to is a comedian touring with material that hasn’t been polished. I’m not doing what I do in the special. The comic has to retire the material. It will be half new material. Hopefully this will bring out the real comedy nerds.
Jen Kirkman performs 8:30 pm Sunday, June 28, at Cozmic; $12 adv., $14 door. 21-plus.