You should check out Jen Kirkman’s new standup special on Netflix – 78 minutes that will have you laughing and saying “Yes, damn it, yes!” (If you’re not saying that, or at least nodding in recognition, I don’t want to know you.) Kirkman frames the program with staged bits that highlight themes she’ll explore during her act – I won’t spoil anything, except to say they’re concise, precisely observed bits that would fit in perfectly on Amy Schumer, or Louis C.K.
Kirkman just turned 40; she’s divorced a couple of years, has no kids and doesn’t want any, and her pubic hair has started turning grey. That’s just about the entire act, but I loved all of it. Her comic genius lies in driving an idea to its absurd conclusion – like when she overhears a man in a bar who doesn’t seem to know the difference between lemons and limes. Kirkman wonders about people who might trust this man with their bank accounts; she concludes (absurdly) that he should probably die, then lambastes the audience for applauding her recommendation of murder. Then she returns to the poor guy two or three more times later in the evening, doubling then tripling down on the joke and winning everything back.
The heart of Jen Kirkman’s schtick is (seemingly) autobiographical: an aging single, childless woman whose friends have no idea how to deal with her. She tells an extended story about how she accidentally became a cougar (“a cautionary tale – don’t be like me.”) She talks about how obnoxious her friends become once they have children, and how terrible she’d be as a parent. None of this is off-putting, at least not to the parents in my living room. Kirkman is never mean – we keep nodding even when we’re implicated.