She first emerged as one of the funny round table regulars on Chelsea Lately, but recently, comedian Jen Kirkman has begun to make a name of her own. In 2013. she wrote a New York Times best-seller, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids, which debunked the notion that she must procreate to be complete; her Netflix Original comedy special, I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), debuted earlier this year; she has made several hilarious appearances on Derek Waters’ hit Comedy Central show Drunk History, now in its second season; and her Chelsea Handler-produced sitcom Jen is in development at FX.
Kirkman has no problem living like a modern woman should—on her terms and without apologies. In anticipation of her October 24 show at the Sands Showroom at the Venetian, Kirkman talked about setting boundaries, the reason 40 is the “sweet spot,” and why you should probably never, ever spar with her on Twitter.
Your second book, I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself, is due next spring, and in it you discuss making “adult” choices. What societal expectations are you bucking?
One is renting. I like the security of someone else taking care of things for me, but what ends up happening is that you have to cohabitate with others in the building.
A strange neighbor suffered a head injury, and at one point, became obsessed with being my friend. I had to set a boundary, which I’m really bad at—being bad at being a functioning adult. Choices. A lot [of things] I don’t feel are choices, just the results of mistakes I make. … It’s weird, but usually people have lots of opinions on these kinds of things.
Like getting divorced?
A lot of married people think divorce is going to rub off on them. It’s very strange at first to be around people you used to be around as a couple. Then, it’s even harder for them to meet new partners who come into your life. It’s as though you’re the child and they’re the parents, and they’re not ready to meet Mommy’s new man.
You often talk about turning 40. What awesome things have you discovered since that birthday?
At first people say, “Oh, no, that’s not old.” And I’m like, “No, it is, and I’m glad.” I feel like I can be taken a little more seriously in my decisions, and people are saying less and less that “you’ll change your mind about kids.” I’m questioning less, I’m asking permission less, and I have no problem admitting flaws or asking friends for help.
Forty is the sweet spot because that physical stuff hasn’t started to break down yet. The year behind me has been good, but I’m not looking forward to sagging things, or having crappy elbows or things like that.
Recently on Twitter, you made a comment about music that resulted in a bunch of responses—mostly from men trying to argue with you. What things have men tried to “explain” to you?
Oh, God, that Twitter thing. I was just trying to find the song “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath, and all I could find was the live version, and it’s great, but I didn’t want to hear that.
Another example was there was an Amtrak crash on the East Coast in May. I wrote—and this is not groundbreaking comedy—a sarcastic post, “It’s 2015, and our own infrastructure can’t support a train. Great work, America.” And I had all these guys going, “Well, this and this and this.” And I’m like, “Yes, I know.”
Anything I phrase rhetorically, or if I start anything with “I don’t understand,” I’m about to make a joke—it’s not like a comedian has earnestly asked Twitter questions she could easily Google.
That [Twitter battle] did amuse me, so I kept going with it. I was sitting on my couch, laughing hysterically, and sometimes they think I’m really upset. No, no. I’m enjoying them.
You’re a regular on Drunk History. Do you pick the stories?
We used to when it was a Web show, but now that they’re doing three narrations per episode, they try to have a very well-rounded topic. They will send you choices to fit your personality, but it’s pretty decided what they want to explore this season. I was given [the fight between editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast and William M. “Boss” Tweed], and once I started researching it, I found my angle. Derek was right to pair me up with it.
What’s your poison of choice?
It’s only wine for me. I don’t really drink that much alcohol. If I ever have anything that is part alcohol, like a whiskey or a margarita, I can only have one or two of those. Any more, and I would be sick physically. Wine is the only thing I don’t get sick on. I did get sick the first time [on a Web-only Drunk History episode about Oney Judge], but I’ve been good ever since. I haven’t thrown up.
Lipshtick Comedy Series presents Jen Kirkman
9:30 p.m. Oct. 24, Sands Showroom at the Venetian, $40-$96, 702-414-9000, Venetian.com.